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Tony Dunnell

Do You Spell it Cusco or Cuzco?

By January 5, 2012

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Have you ever wondered which is correct: Cusco or Cuzco?

When I first started writing about Peru, I decided to stick with the Peruvian spelling of Cusco (with an 's'). I write primarily for an English-speaking audience, so maybe I should have joined the likes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, UNESCO and Lonely Planet and used "Cuzco" (with a 'z').

Apparently, the 'z' is a more common spelling in the English-speaking world, especially in academic circles. Interestingly, however, the Google AdWords tool (a web search tool developed by the king of search engines) suggests that "Cusco" is used more often than "Cuzco" -- both globally and in the US. On average, people search for "Cusco" 135,000 times per month in the US, with "Cuzco" lagging behind with 110,000 searches. Some unknown technical anomaly may be skewing the results, but maybe not...

Anyway, I've been happily using "Cusco" for the last four or five years. Recently, however, I read a fascinating article on the excellent Cuzco Eats blog: "Cusco or Cuzco, Which Is It?"

While I didn't become a "Cuzco" convert, the article certainly made me rethink the issue. If you've ever pondered the matter -- or even if you haven't -- head over to Cuzco Eats. It's a great read.

Which do you prefer: Cusco or Cuzco? Leave a comment below!

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January 6, 2012 at 9:54 pm
(1) Herb says:


Cuzco makes me think of a warehouse retail chain.

Cusco flows off the tongue a bit better so it gets my vote.

January 7, 2012 at 9:58 pm
(2) Tony says:

Ha ha!

I’m like that with “Nazca” and the less common “Nasca” — the latter makes me think of NASCAR, which just doesn’t seem right!


January 8, 2012 at 11:39 am
(3) herb says:

NASCAR starts up again soon. With American Football winding down there has to be something for the good ol’ boys to watch.
I’ve only been to one race in person and it is much different than watching it on TV. I wish they made it easier to watch soccer/football here in the USA without having to buy a special sports package for the satellite dish.

That’s another thing I loved about Peru. Football everyday!


February 26, 2012 at 2:51 am
(4) Suzi says:

Enjoyed your comment, but noticed an error you may (or may not) want to change…you have “u” and I believe your ment to put in an “s”, since that is what the discussion is about. I came to this site because I wondered myself. Planning a trip this May, and looking at all of the different places to vist and having to choose just a few.


February 26, 2012 at 1:09 pm
(5) Tony says:

Oops! Thanks Suzi! That was a particularly unfortunate typo considering the topic…

Choosing just a few places is tricky — there’s so much to see. If you have the time, I definitely recommend heading along the north coast and maybe inland to Chachapoyas and Kuelap. Wherever you end up going in Peru, you’ll definitely have a great time.

March 26, 2013 at 8:23 pm
(6) Jeff says:

Cuzco to me has always felt more natural. I lived there for 6 weeks and the “z” seems more in line with the Incan culture and language, Quechua. I’m guessing this is where the “z” came from, but don’t have a resource to prove it.

Cusco has always felt more Americanized though it is used by the Spanish speakers as well.

October 8, 2013 at 3:04 pm
(7) Eduardo says:


Although I respect the fact that the spelling in English is CuZco, instead of CuSco, just like it happens with BraZil and BraSil. The reason why I stick with CuSco is the following:
In Quechua, the language spoken by the Incas (or InKas, there’s another one), the sound of the letter Z, as pronounced by the Spaniards, which sounds like “th” in English, does not exist. The only similar sound is the S sound. This is why I prefer writing CuSco instead of CuZco. There wouldn’t have been any Inca saying “Cuthco” unless he/she had a lisp.

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