The college administration decided to form a council of students to sort small matters and bridge the gap between students and teachers. Teachers were directed to counsel the council members on how to perform their duty.

The words ‘council’ and ‘counsel’ are homophones. They have a very similar spelling which makes them confusing to distinguish and use. However, each of these words has distinct definitions and uses.

The word ‘council’ refers to a governing or leading committee of people to deal with pertinent matters. ‘Counsel’ however can refer to the advice (noun) or advising (verb) someone usually in a professional capacity.  Keep reading till the end to learn more on the subject with interesting example sentences and a summary to remember what you learn!

Council vs counsel – definition, uses, and example sentences

Definition of council

The word ‘council’ is pronounced ‘kown-sl’ and it is used as a noun. The noun ‘council’ can represent two meanings, each distinctly different from the other. In the more commonly used sense, ‘council’ refers to an organized group of people or a committee formed to lead, govern or regulate people, territory, and laws respectively. ‘Council’ is usually paired with a modifier word that it follows to represent the jurisdiction or authority of a ‘council’. For instance, a ‘student’s council’ is made of and for students while the ‘British council’ operates under the British. A ‘council’ can also mean the art, ability, or act of discussion or debate. For instance, Alexander was eloquent in council. Synonyms of the word ‘council’ include ‘committee’ and ‘union’.

Example sentences of council

  • The Security Council is United Nation’s one of six functional departments headquartered in New York and at present constitutes fifteen member states.

In the first sentence, the noun ‘council’ is used with the modifier ‘security’ as part of a compound noun ‘security council’. Here, the noun represents a governing body. The security ‘council’ governs matters of security under UN law. Its headquarters are located in New York and it consists of fifteen member states.

  • The reporter told the anchor that the city council would convene that day to discuss the amounting problem of sewage and pollution that had been plaguing the city.

Here, the noun ‘council’ is again used as part of the compound noun ‘city council’ with the word ‘city’ acting as a modifier. Here, too, ‘council’ means a group or body of governance or leadership. The reporter reported that the city’s council would gather to discuss issues regarding sewage and pollution.

  • Marcus Aurelius, the last of Roman’s good emperors and the founder of stoicism, was as sharp in his rulings and battle strategies as he was wise in his council with roman politicians.

In the last sentence, the noun ‘council’ refers to the act or skill of discussion, debate, or deliberation; pertaining to the emperor’s ability to intelligently discuss and debate matters with his advisors. The sentence talks about Marcus Aurelius who was a noble Roman emperor and founder of stoicism. It states that he was cunning when it came to battle strategies and expansion, matched with this quality he was also wise in his debate.

Definition of counsel

The word ‘counsel’ is also pronounced ‘kown-sl’. It can be used both as a verb and a noun. A ‘counsel’ can mean a piece of advice, guidance, or consultation in a certain context; for instance, a ‘legal counsel’ or ‘medical counsel’. It can also refer to the act or state of executing judgment; for instance, ‘the jury bears the right to use counsel’. The word ‘counsel’ can directly refer to a legal team representing one’s interests. For instance, ‘the suspect requested the judge for time with his counsel’. The verb form of ‘counsel’ can mean to give advice or guide someone in a professional capacity; for instance, ‘my psychiatrist is counseling me well’. Additionally, it can mean to prescribe a policy or course of action to take in a certain matter. For instance; the cleric counseled patience and faith to the mourning parents. The noun form of the word is synonymous with ‘advice’ and ‘guidance’ in the first two senses. Synonyms of the verb form of the word include ‘advise’, ‘recommend’ and ‘prescribe’.

Example sentences of counsel

  • The oncologist made room in his schedule to counsel a patient who had recently been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer as there was nothing else the doctor could do.

In the first sentence, the word ‘counsel’ is used as a verb in the sense of giving professional information, advice, and assistance to a patient. The oncologist whose schedule was full had to make room for an urgent case for a man suffering from severe cancer.

  • As winter was setting in, Nazi generals counseled the Fuhrer to halt the invasion and call back Germany’s forces until winter was finally over; Hitler, however, was stubbornly committed.

In the second sentence, the word ‘counsel’ is used as a verb to refer to the action of advising or recommending a policy or plan of action. Nazi Generals advised the Fuhrer to call back Germany’s forces in winter because there was a chance of losing but Hitler was insistent on invading.

  • It is wise for kings to keep their own counsel but it is unwise for them to not consult and seek advice from their ministers.

In the last sentence, the word ‘counsel’ is used as a noun to refer to practical advice, guidance, or consultation; especially from a trusted or professionally certified advisor(s). The sentence describes that it is important for kings to seek advice from their team of ministers even if they have personal advisors with them or it might be the cause of their own downfall.


In a nutshell, ‘council’ and ‘counsel’ are pronounced the same but mean very different. ‘Council’ refers to a group of people comprising a team or a governing body whereas ‘counsel’ refers to advice and advising. The word ‘counsel’ also has several legal meanings. Remember that the word ‘counselor’ which is a derivative of counsel as someone who counsels or advises while also meaning an attorney to remember its several legal menaings. We’re sure you or a friend of you must have been in the student council in school; use that to remember it represents a committee.