How annoying is it when you have two words that sound the same, have slightly different spellings, but can also sometimes mean the same thing. I came across this problem when I started writing articles about computers and was often confused when deciding which word to use, disc or disk? The problem is that everyone is not clear about the difference between the words disc and disk, and therefore their original meanings have been altered and blurred.
What does Disk mean?
To my knowledge in computer terms, the word disk originated with the introduction of a hard drive disk and a floppy drive disk. These are both magnetic storage devices. As I remember disk was the original spelling for this type of device.
What does Disc stand for?
The word disc was introduced when the compact disc was produced. Much like the word discus, which refers to a small round disc that you throw, a compact disc is also small and round. This is an optical media which can store data, movies, or music. Now days they not only have the compact discs but also have re-writeable Cd’s and Dvd discs. See this article disc formats What is a CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+R, or a DVD-RW.
Read this Quote from Kenneth G. Wilson (1923–). The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. 1993.
“These were once variant spellings, but American English seems now to have made disk the generic word (the British prefer disc for this purpose), meaning “a flat round object, whether literally a disk, such as a coin, or something that appears disk-shaped, such as the image of the sun.” The bits of cartilage between the vertebrae in the human spine are also disks. Disc then has specialized in American use, meaning particularly “a phonograph record or a compact disc,” but it seems now to be being replaced by disk in most computer-related senses and to be in fading but divided usage as the name of the farmer’s disk [disc] harrow.”
In most computer terminology contexts the word disk refers to the hard disk drive or floppy disk drive of your computer, and the word disc, refers to a compact disc. I notice many people get confused with the difference between disc and disk to this day, but we can understand why now.