Despite the various
English dialects Dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two distinct ways to refer to two different types of Linguistics, linguistic phenomena: * One usage refers to ...

English dialects
spoken from country to country and within different regions of the same country, there are only slight regional variations in
English orthography English orthography is the system of writing conventions used to represent spoken English in written form that allows readers to connect spelling to sound to meaning. Like the orthography of most world languages, English orthography has a broad ...
, the two most notable variations being British and American spelling. Many of the differences between American and British English date back to a time before
spelling Spelling is a set of conventions that regulate the way of using grapheme In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken ...

standards were developed. For instance, some spellings seen as "American" today were once commonly used in Britain, and some spellings seen as "British" were once commonly used in the United States. A "British standard" began to emerge following the 1755 publication of
Samuel Johnson Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709  – 13 December 1784), often called Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions as a poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, critic A critic is a person who communicates an asses ...
's ''
A Dictionary of the English Language Published on 15 April 1755 and written by Samuel Johnson, ''A Dictionary of the English Language'', sometimes published as ''Johnson's Dictionary'', is among the most influential dictionary, dictionaries in the history of the English language. ...
'', and an "American standard" started following the work of
Noah Webster Noah Webster Jr. (October 16, 1758 – May 28, 1843) was an American lexicographer Lexicography is divided into two separate but equally important groups: * Practical lexicography is the art or craft A craft or trade is a pastime or ...

Noah Webster
and, in particular, his ''
An American Dictionary of the English Language ''Webster's Dictionary'' is any of the Dictionary, dictionaries edited by Noah Webster in the early nineteenth century, and numerous related or unrelated dictionaries that have adopted the Webster's name. "Webster's" has become a genericized tra ...

An American Dictionary of the English Language
'', first published in 1828. Webster's efforts at
spelling reform A spelling reform is a deliberate, often authoritatively sanctioned or mandated change to spelling Spelling is a set of conventions that regulate the way of using s (writing system) to represent a language in its . In other words, spelling i ...
were somewhat effective in his native country, resulting in certain well-known patterns of spelling differences between the American and British
varieties of English Dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two distinct ways to refer to two different types of Linguistics, linguistic phenomena: * One usage refers to ...
. However,
English-language spelling reform For centuries, there has been a movement to reform the spelling of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually ...
has rarely been adopted otherwise. As a result, modern
English orthography English orthography is the system of writing conventions used to represent spoken English in written form that allows readers to connect spelling to sound to meaning. Like the orthography of most world languages, English orthography has a broad ...
varies only minimally between countries and is far from
phonemic In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound or sign system of any partic ...
in any country.

Historical origins

In the early 18th century,
English spelling English orthography is the system of writing conventions used to represent spoken English in written form that allows readers to connect spelling to sound to meaning. Like the orthography of most world languages, English orthography has a broad ...
was inconsistent. These differences became noticeable after the publishing of influential
dictionaries A dictionary is a listing of lexeme A lexeme () is a unit of lexical meaning that underlies a set of words that are related through inflection In linguistic morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refe ...

. Today's
British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage and is employed by a populatio ...
spellings mostly follow Johnson's ''A Dictionary of the English Language'' (1755), while many
American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American English is the m ...
spellings follow Webster's ''An American Dictionary of the English Language'' ("ADEL", "Webster's Dictionary", 1828). Webster was a proponent of
English spelling reform For centuries, there has been a movement to spelling reform, reform the spelling of the English language. It seeks to change English orthography so that it is more consistent, matches pronunciation better, and follows the alphabetic principle. Commo ...
for reasons both
philological Philology is the study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed o ...
and nationalistic. In ''A Companion to the American Revolution'' (2008), John Algeo notes: "it is often assumed that characteristically American spellings were invented by Noah Webster. He was very influential in popularizing certain spellings in America, but he did not originate them. Rather  he chose already existing options such as ''center, color'' and ''check'' for the simplicity, analogy or etymology".
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national p ...

William Shakespeare
's first folios, for example, used spellings such as ''center'' and ''color'' as much as ''centre'' and ''colour''.''-or''
Online Etymology Dictionary The ''Online Etymology Dictionary'' is a free online dictionary In computer technology and , online indicates a state of connectivity and offline indicates a disconnected state. In modern terminology, this usually refers to an , but (especia ...
Webster did attempt to introduce some reformed spellings, as did the
Simplified Spelling Board The Simplified Spelling Board was an American organization created in 1906 to reform Reform ( lat, reformo) means the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory, etc. The use of the word in this way emerges in the late 18th ...
in the early 20th century, but most were not adopted. In Britain, the influence of those who preferred the
Norman Norman or Normans may refer to: Ethnic and cultural identity * The Normans The Normans (Norman language, Norman: ''Normaunds''; french: Normands; la, Nortmanni/Normanni) were inhabitants of the early medieval Duchy of Normandy, descended from ...
Anglo-French Anglo-French is a term used in contexts involving France and the United Kingdom (UK). Strictly, the designation "wiktionary:Anglo-, Anglo-" refers specifically to England, not the UK as a whole, but it is understood to refer to the UK and not only E ...
) spellings of words proved to be decisive. Later spelling adjustments in the United Kingdom had little effect on today's American spellings and vice versa. For the most part, the spelling systems of most
Commonwealth countries The Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territorial evolution of the British Empire, territories of ...

Commonwealth countries
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...

closely resemble the British system. In
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

, the spelling system can be said to follow both British and American forms,Clark, 2009. and Canadians are somewhat more tolerant of foreign spellings when compared with other English-speaking nationalities.
Australian spelling Australian English (AusE,AusEng, AuE, AuEng, en-AU) is the set of varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebr ...
mostly follows British spelling norms but has strayed slightly, with very few American spellings incorporated as standard.''The Macquarie Dictionary'', Fourth Edition. The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd, 2005. New Zealand spelling is almost identical to British spelling, except in the word ''fiord'' (instead of ''fjord''). There is an increasing use of macrons in words that originated in
Māori Māori or Maori can refer to: Relating to the Māori people * Māori people of New Zealand, or members of that group * Māori language, the language of the Māori people of New Zealand * Māori culture * Cook Islanders, the Māori people of the Coo ...
and an unambiguous preference for ''-ise'' endings (see below).

Latin-derived spellings (often through Romance)

''-our'', ''-or''

Most words ending in an unstressed ''-our'' in British English (e.g., ) end in ''-or'' in American English (). Wherever the vowel is unreduced in pronunciation, e.g., ''
contour Contour may refer to: * Contour (linguistics) In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language ...
'', ''
velour Velour or velours is a plush, knitted File:Ibarra (Aramayona), yarn bombing 2.JPG, Yarn bombing in Ibarra de Aramayona, Aramaio, Spain Knitting is a method by which yarn is manipulated to create a textile or knitted fabric, fabric; it's ...
'', '' paramour'' and ''
troubadour A troubadour (, ; oc, trobador ) was a composer and performer of Old Occitan Old Occitan ( Modern Occitan: ', ca, occità antic), also called Old Provençal, was the earliest form of the Occitano-Romance languages The Occitano-Romance or ...
'' the spelling is uniform everywhere. Most words of this kind came from Latin, where the ending was spelled ''-or''. They were first adopted into English from early
Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular o ...
, and the ending was spelled ''-our'', ''-or'' or ''-ur''.''Webster's Third,'' p. 24a. After the
Norman conquest of England The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northwest of England and the to ...
, the ending became ''-our'' to match the later Old French spelling. The ''-our'' ending was used not only in new English borrowings, but was also applied to the earlier borrowings that had used ''-or''. However, ''-or'' was still sometimes found. The first three folios of
Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national p ...

's plays used both spellings before they were standardised to ''-our'' in the Fourth Folio of 1685. After the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

, new borrowings from Latin were taken up with their original ''-or'' ending, and many words once ending in ''-our'' (for example, ''chancellour'' and ''governour'') reverted to ''-or''. Many words of the ''-our/or'' group do not have a Latin counterpart that ends in ''-or''; for example, ''armo(u)r'', ''behavio(u)r'', ''harbo(u)r'', ''neighbo(u)r''; also '''', meaning "shelter", though senses "tree" and "tool" are always '' arbor'', a
false cognate False cognates are pairs of words that seem to be cognates because of similar sounds and meaning, but have different etymologies; they can be within the same language or from different languages, even within the same family. For example, the Engli ...
of the other word. Some 16th- and early 17th-century British scholars indeed insisted that ''-or'' be used for words from Latin (e.g., ') and ''-our'' for French loans; but in many cases the etymology was not clear, and therefore some scholars advocated ''-or'' only and others ''-our'' only. Webster's 1828 dictionary had only ''-or'' and is given much of the credit for the adoption of this form in the United States. By contrast, Johnson's 1755 (pre-U.S. independence and establishment) dictionary used ''-our'' for all words still so spelled in Britain (like ''colour''), but also for words where the ''u'' has since been dropped: ''ambassadour'', ''emperour'', ''governour'', ''perturbatour'', ''inferiour'', ''superiour''; ''errour'', ''horrour'', ''mirrour'', ''tenour'', ''terrour'', ''tremour''. Johnson, unlike Webster, was not an advocate of spelling reform, but chose the spelling best derived, as he saw it, from among the variations in his sources. He preferred French over Latin spellings because, as he put it, "the French generally supplied us". English speakers who moved to America took these preferences with them. In the early 20th century,
H. L. Mencken Henry Louis Mencken (September 12, 1880 – January 29, 1956) was an American journalist, essayist An essay is, generally, a piece of writing that gives the author's own argument, but the definition is vague, overlapping with those of a L ...
notes that "' appears in the 1776
Declaration of Independence#REDIRECT Declaration of independence {{Redirect category shell, {{R from other capitalisation ...

Declaration of Independence
, but it seems to have been put there rather by accident than by design". In 's original draft it is spelled "honour". In Britain, examples of rarely appear in
Old Bailey The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, commonly referred to as the Old Bailey after the street on which it stands, is a criminal court building in central London, one of several that houses the Crown Court of England and Wales. The ...
court records from the 17th and 18th centuries, whereas there are thousands of examples of their ''-our'' counterparts. One notable exception is '. ' and ' were equally frequent in Britain until the 17th century; ''honor'' only exists in the UK as the spelling of ''
Honor Oak Honor Oak is an inner suburban area of Forest Hill principally of the London Borough of Lewisham Lewisham () is a London boroughs, London borough in South London; it forms part of Inner London. The principal settlement of the borough is Lewish ...
'', a district of
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...


Derivatives and inflected forms

In derivatives and inflected forms of the ''-our/or'' words, British usage depends on the nature of the suffix used. The ''u'' is kept before English suffixes that are freely attachable to English words (for example in ) and suffixes of Greek or Latin origin that have been adopted into English (for example in ). However, before Latin suffixes that are not freely attachable to English words, the ''u'': * may be dropped, for example in '' honorary'', ''
honorific An honorific is a title that conveys esteem, courtesy, or respect for position or rank when used in addressing or referring to a person. Sometimes, the term "honorific" is used in a more specific sense to refer to an honorary academic title. It ...
'', ''
humorist A humorist (American English, American) or humourist (British English, British spelling) is an intellectual who uses humor, or wit, in writing or public speaking, but is not an artist who seeks only to elicit laughs. Humorists are distinct from ...
'', '' vigorous'', ''
humorous Humour (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English) or humor (American English; American and British English spelling differences#-our, -or, see spelling differences) is the tendency of experiences to provoke laughter and pro ...
'', '' laborious'', and '' invigorate''; * may be either dropped or kept, for example in ''colo(u)ration'' and ''colo(u)rize ''or'' colourise''; or * may be kept, for example in '. In American usage, derivatives and inflected forms are built by simply adding the suffix in all cases (for example, ', ' etc.) since the ''u'' is absent to begin with.


American usage, in most cases, keeps the ''u'' in the word ''
glamour Glamour or glamor may refer to: Arts Film * Glamour (1931 film), ''Glamour'' (1931 film), a British film * Glamour (1934 film), ''Glamour'' (1934 film), an American film * Glamour (2000 film), ''Glamour'' (2000 film), a Hungarian film Writi ...
'', which comes from Scots, not Latin or French. ' is sometimes used in imitation of the spelling reform of other ''-our'' words to ''-or''. Nevertheless, the adjective '' glamorous'' often drops the first "u". ' is a somewhat common variant of ' in the US. The British spelling is very common for ' (and ') in the formal language of
wedding invitation A wedding invitation is a letter asking the recipient to attend a wedding A wedding is a ceremony where two people are united in marriage in Stockholm Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a culturally recognised union ...
s in the US. The name of the has a ''u'' in it because the
spacecraft A spacecraft is a vehicle or machine designed to fly in outer space. A type of artificial satellite alt=, A full-size model of the Earth observation satellite ERS 2 ">ERS_2.html" ;"title="Earth observation satellite ERS 2">Earth obse ...

was named after British
Captain James Cook Captain Captain is a title for the commander of a military unit, the commander of a ship, aeroplane, spacecraft, or other vessel, or the commander of a port, fire department or police department, election precinct, etc. The captain is a milit ...

Captain James Cook
's ship, . The (former) special car on 's ''
Coast Starlight The ''Coast Starlight'' is a passenger train operated by Amtrak on the West Coast of the United States between Seattle, Washington, Seattle and Los Angeles, California, Los Angeles via Portland, Oregon, Portland and the San Francisco Bay Area. T ...

Coast Starlight
'' train is known as the Pacific Parlour car, not ''Pacific Parlor''.
Proper name A proper noun is a noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (ling ...
s such as ''
Pearl Harbor Pearl Harbor is an American lagoon File:Kara-Bogaz Gol from space, September 1995.jpg, Garabogazköl, Garabogaz-Göl lagoon in Turkmenistan A lagoon is a shallow body of water separated from a larger body of water by a narrow landform, su ...

Pearl Harbor
'' or ''
Sydney Harbour Port Jackson, consisting of the waters of Sydney Harbour, Middle Harbour Middle Harbour (or ''Warring-Ga''), a semi–mature tide (U.S.), low tide occurs roughly at moonrise and high tide with a high Moon, corresponding to the simple ...

Sydney Harbour
'' are usually spelled according to their native-variety spelling vocabulary. The name of the herb ''
savory Savory or Savoury may refer to: Common usage * Herbs of the genus ''Satureja'', particularly: ** Summer savory (''Satureja hortensis''), an annual herb, used to flavor food ** Winter savory (''Satureja montana''), a perennial herb, also used to ...
'' is spelled thus everywhere, although the related adjective ''savo(u)ry'', like ''savo(u)r'', has a ''u'' in the UK. ''Honor'' (the name) and ''arbor'' (the tool) have ''-or'' in Britain, as mentioned above, as does the word ''pallor''. As a general noun, ''
rigour Rigour (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, wh ...
'' has a ''u'' in the UK; the medical term ''
rigor Rigour (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage ...
'' (sometimes ) does not, such as in ''rigor mortis'', which is Latin. Derivations of ''rigour''/''rigor'' such as ''rigorous'', however, are typically spelled without a ''u'', even in the UK. Words with the ending ''-irior'', ''-erior'' or similar are spelled thus everywhere. The word ''
armour Armour (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage a ...
'' was once somewhat common in American usage but has disappeared except in some brand names such as
Under Armour Under Armour, Inc. is an American sports equipment Sporting equipment, also called sporting goods, are the tools, materials, apparel, and gear used to compete in a sport and varies depending on the sport. The equipment ranges from balls, nets, ...

Under Armour
. The cardinal numbers '' four'' and '' fourteen'', when written as words, are always spelled with a ''u'', as are the ordinal numbers '' fourth'' and '' fourteenth''. '' Forty'' and '' fortieth'', however, are always spelled without a ''u''.

Commonwealth usage

Commonwealth countries normally follow British usage.
Canadian English Canadian English (CanE, CE, en-CA) is the set of varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of alg ...
most commonly uses the ''-our'' ending and ''-our-'' in derivatives and inflected forms. However, owing to the close historic, economic, and cultural relationship with the United States, ''-or'' endings are also sometimes used. Throughout the late 19th and early to mid-20th century, most Canadian newspapers chose to use the American usage of ''-or'' endings, originally to save time and money in the era of manual
movable type Movable type (US English; moveable type in British English) is the system and technology Technology ("science of craft", from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''techne'', "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and , ''wikt:-logia, -logia'') is the sum of a ...
. However, in the 1990s, the majority of Canadian newspapers officially updated their spelling policies to the British usage of ''-our''. This coincided with a renewed interest in Canadian English, and the release of the updated Gage Canadian Dictionary in 1997 and the first Oxford Canadian Dictionary in 1998. Historically, most libraries and educational institutions in Canada have supported the use of the Oxford English Dictionary rather than the American Webster's Dictionary. Today, the use of a distinctive set of Canadian English spellings is viewed by many Canadians as one of the cultural uniquenesses of Canada (especially when compared to the United States). In Australia, ''-or'' endings enjoyed some use throughout the 19th century and in the early 20th century. Like Canada, though, most major Australian newspapers have switched from "''-or''" endings to "''-our''" endings. The "''-our''" spelling is taught in schools nationwide as part of the Australian curriculum. The most notable countrywide use of the ''-or'' ending is for the , which was originally called "the Australian Labour Party" (name adopted in 1908), but was frequently referred to as both "Labour" and "Labor". The "Labor" was adopted from 1912 onward due to the influence of the and
King O'Malley King O'Malley (2 July 1858? – 20 December 1953) was an Australian politician who served in the House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies in many countries and sub-national entitles. In many count ...

King O'Malley
. Aside from that, ''-our'' is now almost universal in Australia.
New Zealand English New Zealand English (NZE) is the dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of phenomena: * One usage refers to a of a ...
, while sharing some words and syntax with
Australian English Australian English (AusE,AusEng, AuE, AuEng, en-AU) is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to Australia. Australian English is the country's national and ''de facto'' common language. English is the Lan ...
, follows British usage.

''-re'', ''-er''

In British English, some words from French, Latin or Greek end with a consonant followed by an unstressed ''-re'' (pronounced ). In modern American English, most of these words have the ending ''-er''. The difference is most common for words ending ''-bre'' or ''-tre'': British spellings all have ''-er'' in American spelling. In Britain, both ''-re'' and ''-er'' spellings were common before Johnson's 1755 dictionary was published. Following this, ''-re'' became the most common usage in Britain. In the United States, following the publication of
Webster's dictionary ''Webster's Dictionary'' is any of the English language dictionaries A dictionary is a listing of lexeme A lexeme () is a unit of lexical meaning that underlies a set of words that are related through inflection In linguistic mo ...

Webster's dictionary
in the early 19th century, American English became more standardized, exclusively using the ''-er'' spelling. In addition, spelling of some words have been changed from ''-re'' to ''-er'' in both varieties. These include ''
chapter Chapter or Chapters may refer to: Books * Chapter (books), a main division of a piece of writing or document * Chapter book, a story book intended for intermediate readers, generally age 7–10 * Chapters (bookstore), Canadian big box bookstore b ...
'', ''
December December is the twelfth and the final month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar A calendar is a system of organizing days. This is done by giving names to periods of time, t ...
'', ''
disaster A disaster is a serious problem occurring over a short or long period of time that causes widespread human, material, economic or environmental loss which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources ...
'', ''
enter Enter or ENTER may refer to: * Enter key On computer keyboard The technology of computer keyboards includes many elements. Among the more important of these is the switch technology that they use. Computer alphanumeric keyboards typically ...
'', ''
filter Filter, filtering or filters may refer to: Science and technology Device * Filter (chemistry), a device which separates solids from fluids (liquids or gases) by adding a medium through which only the fluid can pass ** Filter (aquarium), critical ...
'', ''
letter Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, Object (philosophy ...
'', ''
member Member may refer to: * Military juryA United States military "jury" (or "Members", in military parlance) serves a function similar to an American civilian jury, but with several notable differences. Only a Courts-martial in the United States, Gene ...
'', ''
minister Minister may refer to: * Minister (Christianity)Image:LutheranClergy.JPG, upA Lutheran minister wearing a Geneva gown and Bands (neckwear), bands. In many churches, ministers wear distinctive clothing, called vestments, when presiding over service ...
'', ''
monster A monster is a type of fictional creature found in horror Horror may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Genres *Horror fiction, a genre of fiction **Japanese horror, Japanese horror fiction **Korean horror, Korean horror fiction *Horr ...
'', ''
November November is the eleventh and penultimate month A month is a unit of time, used with calendars, that is approximately as long as a natural orbital period of the Moon; the words ''month'' and ''Moon'' are cognates. The traditional concept arose ...
'', ''
number A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduct ...
'', ''
October October is the tenth month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the sixth of seven months to have a length of 31 day The word day has a number of meanings, depending on the context it is used such as of astronomy, physi ...
'', '' offer'', ''
oyster Oyster is the common name Common may refer to: Places * Common, a townland in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland * Boston Common Boston Common (also known as the Common) is a central public park in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. It is someti ...
'', ''
powder A powder is a dry, bulk solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation (mechanic ...
'', '' proper'', ''
September September is the ninth month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar A calendar is a system of organizing days. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically ...
'', '' sober'' and '' tender''. Words using the ''"-meter"'' suffix (from Ancient Greek - μέτρον ''métron'', via French ''wikt:-mètre, -mètre'') normally had the ''-re'' spelling from earliest use in English but were superseded by ''-er''. Examples include ''wikt:thermometer, thermometer'' and ''wikt:barometer, barometer''. The ''e'' preceding the ''r'' is kept in American-inflected forms of nouns and verbs, for example, , which are respectively in British English. According to the ''OED'', ' is a ''"word ... of 3 syllables (in careful pronunciation)"'' (i.e., ), yet there is no vowel in the spelling corresponding to the second syllable (). The OED third edition (revised entry of June 2016) allows either two or three syllables. On the OED, Oxford Dictionaries Online website, the three-syllable version is listed only as the American pronunciation of ''centering''. The ''e'' is dropped for other derivations, for example, ''central'', ''fibrous'', ''spectral''. But, the existence of related words without ''e'' before the ''r'' is not proof for the existence of an ''-re'' British spelling: for example, ''entry'' and ''entrance'' come from ''enter'', which has not been spelled ''entre'' for centuries. The difference relates only to root words; ''-er'' rather than ''-re'' is universal as a suffix for agentive (''reader'', ''winner'', ''user'') and comparative (''louder'', ''nicer'') forms. One outcome is the British distinction of ''wikt:meter, meter'' for a measuring instrument from ' for Metre, the unit of length. But, while "" is often spelled as ''-re'', Iambic pentameter, pentameter, hexameter, etc. are always ''-er''.


Many other words have ''-er'' in British English. These include Germanic words, such as ''anger'', ''mother'', ''timber'' and ''water'', and such Romance-derived words as ''danger'', ''quarter'' and ''river''. The ending ''-cre'', as in ''acre'',Although ''acre'' was spelled ''æcer'' in Old English and ''aker'' in Middle English, the ''acre'' spelling of Middle French was introduced in the 15th century. Similarly, ''loover'' was respelled in the 17th century by influence of the unrelated Louvre. (See ''OED'', s.v. ''acre'' and ''louvre'') ''wikt:lucre, lucre'', ''wikt:massacre, massacre'', and ''wikt:mediocre, mediocre'', is used in both British and American English to show that the ''c'' is pronounced rather than . The spellings ''ogre'' and ''euchre'' are also the same in both British and American English. ''wikt:fire, Fire'' and its associated adjective ''wikt:fiery, fiery'' are the same in both British and American English, although the noun was spelled ''fier'' in Old and Middle English. ' is the prevailing American spelling used to refer to both the dramatic arts and buildings where stage performances and screenings of films take place (i.e., ""); for example, a national newspaper such as ''The New York Times'' would use ' in its entertainment section. However, the spelling ''wikt:theatre, theatre'' appears in the names of many New York City theatres on Broadway (cf. Broadway theatre) and elsewhere in the United States. In 2003, the American National Theatre was referred to by ''The New York Times'' as the "American National ", but the organization uses "re" in the spelling of its name. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. has the more common American spelling ' in its references to The Eisenhower Theater, part of the Kennedy Center. Some cinemas outside New York also use the ''theatre'' spelling. (The word "theater" in American English is a place where both stage performances and screenings of films take place, but in British English a "theatre" is where stage performances take place but not film screenings – these take place in a cinema.) In the United States, the spelling ''theatre'' is sometimes used when referring to the art form of theatre, while the building itself, as noted above, generally is spelled ''theater''. For example, the University of Wisconsin–Madison has a "Department of ''Theatre'' and Drama", which offers courses that lead to the "Bachelor of Arts in ''Theatre''", and whose professed aim is "to prepare our graduate students for successful 21st Century careers in the ''theatre'' both as practitioners and scholars". Some placenames in the United States use ''wikt:centre, Centre'' in their names. Examples include the Stonebriar Centre mall, the cities of Rockville Centre, New York, Rockville Centre and Centreville, Illinois, Centreville, Centre County, Pennsylvania, Centre County and Centre College. Sometimes, these places were named before spelling changes but more often the spelling serves as an affectation.
Proper name A proper noun is a noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (ling ...
s are usually spelled according to their native-variety spelling vocabulary; so, for instance, although ''Peter'' is the usual form of the male given name, as a surname both the spellings ''Peter'' and ''Petre'' (the latter notably borne by a British Baron Petre, lord) are found. For British ', the American practice varies: the ''Merriam-Webster Dictionary'' prefers the ''-re'' spelling, but ''The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language'' prefers the ''-er'' spelling. More recent French loanwords keep the ''-re'' spelling in American English. These are not exceptions when a French-style pronunciation is used ( rather than ), as with ''double entendre'', ''wikt:genre, genre'' and ''wikt:oeuvre, oeuvre''. However, the unstressed pronunciation of an ''-er'' ending is used more (or less) often with some words, including ''wikt:cadre, cadre'', ''wikt:macabre, macabre'', ''maître d''', wikt:Notre Dame, Notre Dame, ''wikt:piastre, piastre'', and ''wikt:timbre, timbre''.

Commonwealth usage

The ''-re'' endings are mostly standard throughout the Commonwealth. The ''-er'' spellings are recognized as minor variants in Canada, partly due to United States influence. They are sometimes used in proper names (such as Toronto's controversially named Centerpoint Mall (Toronto), Centerpoint Mall).

''-ce'', ''-se''

For ''wiktionary:advice, advice''/''wiktionary:advise, advise'' and ''wiktionary:device, device''/''wiktionary:devise, devise'', American English and British English both keep the noun–verb distinction both graphically and phonetically (where the pronunciation is - for the noun and - for the verb). For ''wiktionary:licence, licence/wiktionary:license, license'' or ''wiktionary:practice, practice/wiktionary:practise, practise'', British English also keeps the noun–verb distinction graphically (although phonetically the two words in each pair are homophones with - pronunciation). On the other hand, American English uses ''wiktionary:license, license'' and ''wiktionary:practice, practice'' for both nouns and verbs (with - pronunciation in both cases too). American English has kept the Anglo-French spelling for ''wiktionary:defense, defense'' and ''wiktionary:offense, offense'', which are ''wiktionary:defence, defence'' and ''wiktionary:offence, offence'' in British English. Likewise, there are the American ''wiktionary:pretense, pretense'' and British ''wiktionary:pretence, pretence''; but derivatives such as ''wiktionary:defensive, defensive'', ''wiktionary:offensive, offensive'', and ''wiktionary:pretension, pretension'' are always thus spelled in both systems. Australian and Canadian usage generally follows British.

''-xion'', ''-ction''

The spelling ''wiktionary:connexion, connexion'' is now rare in everyday British usage, its use lessening as knowledge of Latin lessens, and it is not used at all in the US: the more common ''connection'' has become the standard worldwide. According to the ''Oxford English Dictionary'' the older spelling is more etymologically conservative, since the original Latin word had ''-xio-''. The American usage comes from Noah Webster, Webster, who abandoned ''-xion'' and preferred ''-ction''. ''Connexion'' was still the house style of ''The Times'' of London until the 1980s and was still used by Post Office Telecommunications for its telephone services in the 1970s, but had by then been overtaken by ''connection'' in regular usage (for example, in more popular newspapers). ''Connexion'' (and its derivatives ''connexional'' and ''connexionalism'') is still in use by the Methodist Church of Great Britain to refer to the whole church as opposed to its constituent districts, circuits and local churches, whereas the US-majority United Methodist Church uses ''Connection''. ''Complexion'' (which comes from ''complex'') is standard worldwide and ''complection'' is rare. However, the adjective ''complected'' (as in "dark-complected"), although sometimes objected to, is considered just as standard in the US as ''complexioned'', but is not used in this way in the UK, although there is a rare usage to mean ''complicated''. In some cases, words with "old-fashioned" spellings are retained widely in the US for historical reasons (cf. connexionalism).

Greek-derived and Latin-derived spellings

''ae'' and ''oe''

Many words, especially medical words, that are written with ''ae/æ'' or ''oe/œ'' in British English are written with just an ''e'' in American English. The sounds in question are or (or, unstressed, , or ). Examples (with non-American letter in bold): ''aeon, aeon'', ''anemia, anaemia'', ''anesthesia, anaesthesia'', ''caecum, caecum'', ''caesium, caesium'', ''celiac (disambiguation), coeliac'', ''diarrhea, diarrhoea'', ''encyclopedia, encyclopaedia'', ''feces, faeces'', ''fetal, foetal'', ''gynecology, gynaecology'', ''haemoglobin, haemoglobin'', ''hemophilia, haemophilia'', ''leukemia, leukaemia'', ''esophagus, oesophagus'', ''estrogen, oestrogen'', ''orthopedic, orthopaedic'', ''Paleontology, palaeontology'', ''pediatric, paediatric'', ''pedophile, paedophile''. ''Oenology'' is acceptable in American English but is deemed a minor variant of ''enology'', whereas although ''archeology'' and ''ameba'' exist in American English, the British versions ''archaeology'' and ''amoeba'' are more common. The chemical ''Heme, haem'' (named as a shortening of ''Hemoglobin, haemoglobin'') is spelled ''heme'' in American English, to avoid confusion with ''hem''. Canadian English mostly follows American English in this respect, although it is split on ''gynecology'' (e.g. Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada vs. the Canadian Medical Association's Canadian specialty profile of ''Obstetrics/gynecology''). ''Pediatrician'' is preferred roughly 10 to 1 over ''paediatrician'', while ''foetal'' and ''oestrogen'' are similarly uncommon. Words that can be spelled either way in American English include ''aesthetics'' and ''archaeology'' (which usually prevail over ''esthetics'' and ''archeology''), as well as ''palaestra, palaestra'', for which the simplified form ''palestra'' is described by Merriam-Webster as "chiefly Brit[ish]." Words that can be spelled either way in British English include ''encyclopaedia'', ''homoeopathy'', ''chamaeleon'', ''mediaeval'' (a minor variant in both AmE and BrE), ''foetid'' and ''foetus''. The spellings ''foetus'' and ''foetal'' are Britishisms based on a mistaken etymology. The etymologically correct original spelling ''fetus'' reflects the Latin original and is the standard spelling in medical journals worldwide; the Oxford English Dictionary notes that "In Latin manuscripts both ''fētus'' and ''foetus'' are used". The History of Greek#Ancient Greek dialects, Ancient Greek diphthongs <αι> and <οι> were transliteration, transliterated into Latin as and . The Typographic ligature, ligatures æ and œ were introduced when the sounds became monophthongs, and later applied to words not of Greek origin, in both Latin (for example, ''cœli'') and French (for example, ''œuvre''). In English, which has adopted words from all three languages, it is now usual to replace ''Æ/æ'' with ''Ae/ae'' and ''Œ/œ'' with ''Oe/oe''. In many words, the digraph has been reduced to a lone ''e'' in all varieties of English: for example, ''oeconomics'', ''praemium'', and ''aenigma''. In others, it is kept in all varieties: for example, ''phoenix (mythology), phoenix'', and usually ''subpoena'', but Phenix, Virginia, Phenix in Virginia. This is especially true of names: ''Caesar (disambiguation), Caesar'', ''Oedipus'', ''Phoebe'', etc. There is no reduction of Latin declension#First declension (a), Latin -ae plurals (e.g., ''larvae''); nor where the digraph / does not result from the Greek-style ligature: for example, ''maelstrom'', ''toe''. The British form ''aeroplane'' is an instance (compare other ''aero-'' words such as ''aerosol''). The now chiefly North American ''airplane'' is not a respelling but a recoining, modelled after ''airship'' and ''aircraft''. The word ''airplane'' dates from 1907, at which time the prefix ''aero-'' was trisyllabic, often written ''aëro-''.

Greek-derived spellings (often through Latin and Romance)

''-ise'', ''-ize'' (''-isation'', ''-ization'')

Origin and recommendations

The ''-ize'' spelling is often incorrectly seen as an Americanism in Britain. It has been in use since the 15th century, predating ''-ise'' by over a century. ''-ize'' comes directly from Greek ''-izein'' and Latin ''-izāre'', while ''-ise'' comes via French ''-iser''. The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' () recommends ''-ize'' and lists the ''-ise'' form as an alternative.''Oxford English Dictionary'' "-ise1" Publications by Oxford University Press (OUP)—such as Henry Watson Fowler's ''A Dictionary of Modern English Usage'', ''Hart's Rules'', and ''The Oxford Guide to English Usage''—also recommend ''-ize''. However, Robert Allan's ''Pocket Fowler's Modern English Usage'' considers either spelling to be acceptable anywhere but the US. Also, Oxford University itself does not agree with the OUP and advocates ''-ise'' instead of ''-ize'' in its staff style guide.


American spelling avoids ''-ise'' endings in words like ''organize'', ''wiktionary:realize, realize'' and ''recognize''. British spelling mostly uses ''-ise'' (''organise'', ''wiktionary:realise, realise'', ''recognise''), though ''-ize'' is sometimes used. The ratio between ''-ise'' and ''-ize'' stood at 3:2 in the British National Corpus up to 2002. The spelling ''-ise'' is more commonly used in UK mass media and newspapers, including ''The Times'' (which switched conventions in 1992),Richard Dixon
"Questions answered"
''The Times'', 13 January 2004.
''The Daily Telegraph'', ''The Economist'' and the BBC. The Government of the United Kingdom additionally uses ''-ise'', stating "do not use Americanisms" justifying that the spelling "is often seen as such". The ''-ize'' form is known as Oxford spelling and is used in publications of the Oxford University Press, most notably the ''Oxford English Dictionary'', and of other academic publishers such as ''Nature (journal), Nature'', the ''Biochemical Journal'' and ''The Times Literary Supplement''. It can be identified using the IETF language tag en-GB-oxendict (or, historically, by en-GB-oed). In Canada, the ''-ize'' ending is more common, whereas in Ireland, India, Australia, and New Zealand, ''-ise'' spellings strongly prevail: the ''-ise'' form is preferred in Australian English at a ratio of about 3:1 according to the ''Macquarie Dictionary''. The same applies to derivatives and inflections such as ''colonisation''/''colonization'', or ''modernisation''/''modernization''. Worldwide, ''-ize'' endings prevail in scientific writing and are commonly used by many international organizations, such as the United Nations Organizations (such as the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization) and the International Organization for Standardization (but not by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). The European Union's style guides require the usage of -''ise''. Proofreaders at the EU's Publications Office ensure consistent spelling in official publications such as the ''Official Journal of the European Union'' (where legislation and other official documents are published), but the ''-ize'' spelling may be found in other documents.


Some verbs ending in ''-ize'' or ''-ise'' do not come from Greek ''-'', and their endings are therefore ''not'' interchangeable: * Some words take only the ''-z-'' form worldwide, for example ''capsize'', ''seize'' (except in the legal phrases ''to be :wikt:seised, seised of'' or ''to stand seised to''), ''size'' and ''prize'' (only in the "appraise" sense). These, however, do not contain the suffix ''-ize''. * Others take only ''-s-'' worldwide: ''advertise'', ''advise'', ''arise'', ''chastise'', ''circumcise'', ''comprise'', ''compromise'', ''demise'', ''despise'', ''devise'', ''disguise'', ''excise'', ''exercise'', ''franchise'', ''guise'', ''improvise'', ''incise'', ''reprise'', ''revise'', ''rise'', ''supervise'', ''surmise'', ''surprise'', ''televise'', and ''wise''. Some of these do not contain the suffix ''-ise'', but some do. * One special case is the verb ''to prise'' (meaning "to force" or "to lever"), which is spelled ''prize'' in the US and ''prise'' everywhere else, including Canada, although in North American English it is almost always replaced by ''pry'', a back-formation from or alteration of ''prise''. A topsail schooner built in Australia in 1829 was called Enterprize (1829), Enterprize, whereas there have been US USS Enterprise (disambiguation), ships and Space Shuttle Enterprise, spacecraft named "Enterprise". Some words spelled with ''-ize'' in American English are List of American words not widely used in the United Kingdom, not used in British English, etc., e.g., the verb ''burglarize'', regularly formed on the noun ''burglar'', where the equivalent in British, and other versions of English, is the back-formation ''burgle'' and not ''burglarise''.

''-yse'', ''-yze''

The ending ''-yse'' is British and ''-yze'' is American. Thus, in British English ''analyse'', ''catalyse'', ''hydrolyse'' and ''paralyse'', but in American English ''analyze'', ''catalyze'', ''hydrolyze'' and ''paralyze''. ''Analyse'' was the more common spelling in 17th- and 18th-century English. Some dictionaries of the time however preferred ''analyze'', such as Dictionarium Anglo-Britannicum, John Kersey's of 1702, An Universal Etymological English Dictionary, Nathan Bailey's of 1721 and A Dictionary of the English Language, Samuel Johnson's of 1755. In Canada, ''-yze'' is preferred, but ''-yse'' is also very common. In South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, ''-yse'' is the prevailing form. English verbs ending in either ''-lyse'' or ''-lyze'' are not similar to the original Greek verb, which is ''λύω lýo'' ("I release"). Instead, they come from the noun form ''lysis'', with the ''-ise'' or ''-ize'' suffix. For example, ''analyse'' comes from French ''analyser'', formed by haplology from the French ''analysiser'', which would be spelled ''analysise'' or ''analysize'' in English. ''Hart's Rules, Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press, Oxford'' states: "In verbs such as analyse, catalyse, paralyse, ''-lys-'' is part of the Greek stem (corresponding to the element ''-lusis'') and not a suffix like ''-ize''. The spelling ''-yze'' is therefore etymologically incorrect, and must not be used, unless American printing style is being followed."

''-ogue'', ''-og''

British and other Commonwealth English use the ending ''-logue'' while American English commonly uses the ending ''-log'' for words like ''analog(ue)'', ''catalog(ue)'', ''dialog(ue)'', ''monolog(ue)'', ''homolog(ue)'', etc. The ''-gue'' spelling, as in ''catalogue'', is used in the US, but ''catalog'' is more common. Additionally, in American English, ''dialogue'' is an extremely common spelling compared to ''dialog'', although both are treated as acceptable ways to spell the word (thus the inflected forms, ''cataloged'' and ''cataloging'' vs. ''catalogued'' and ''cataloguing''). Words like '':wikt:demagogue, demagogue'', '':wikt:pedagogue, pedagogue'', and '':wikt:synagogue, synagogue'' are seldom used without ''-ue'' even in American English. In Australia, ''analog'' is standard for the adjective, but both ''analogue'' and ''analog'' are current for the noun; in all other cases the ''-gue'' endings strongly prevail, for example ''monologue'', except for such expressions as ''dialog box'' in computing, which are also used in the UK. In Australia, ''analog'' is used in its technical and electronic sense, as in ''analog electronics''. In Canada and New Zealand, ''analogue'' is used, but ''analog'' has some currency as a technical term (e.g., in electronics, as in "analog electronics" as opposed to "digital electronics" and some video-game consoles might have an ''analog stick''). The ''-ue'' is absent worldwide in related words like ''analogy'', ''analogous'', and ''analogist''. Both British and American English use the spelling ''-gue'' with a silent ''-ue'' for certain words that are not part of the ''-ogue'' set, such as ''tongue'' (cf. :wikt:tong, tong), ''plague'', ''vague'', and ''league.'' In addition, when the ''-ue'' is not silent, as in the words ''argue,'' ''ague'' and ''segue,'' all varieties of English use ''-gue.''

Commonwealth usage

In Canada, ''e'' is usually preferred over ''oe'' and often over ''ae'', but ''oe'' and ''ae'' are sometimes found in academic and scientific writing as well as government publications (for example the fee schedule of the Ontario Health Insurance Plan). In Australia, ''medieval'' is spelt with ''e'' rather than ''ae'', as with American usage, and the ''Macquarie Dictionary'' also notes a growing tendency towards replacing ''ae'' and ''oe'' with ''e'' worldwide. Elsewhere, the British usage prevails, but the spellings with just ''e'' are increasingly used. ''Manoeuvre'' is the only spelling in Australia, and the most common one in Canada, where ''maneuver'' and ''manoeuver'' are also sometimes found.

Doubled consonants

The plural of the noun ''bus'' is usually ''buses'', with ''busses'' a minor American variant. Conversely, inflections of the verb ''bus'' usually double the ''s'' in British (''busses, bussed, bussing'') but not American (''buses, bused, busing'').

Doubled in British English

The final consonant of an English word is sometimes doubled in both American and British spelling when adding a suffix beginning with a vowel, for example ''strip/stripped'', which prevents confusion with ''stripe/striped'' and shows the difference in pronunciation (see Digraph (orthography)#Double letters, digraph). Generally, this happens only when the word's final syllable is stressed and when it also ends with a lone vowel followed by a lone consonant. In British English, however, a final ''-l'' is often doubled even when the final syllable is unstressed. This exception is no longer usual in American English, seemingly because of
Noah Webster Noah Webster Jr. (October 16, 1758 – May 28, 1843) was an American lexicographer Lexicography is divided into two separate but equally important groups: * Practical lexicography is the art or craft A craft or trade is a pastime or ...

Noah Webster
. The ''-ll-'' spellings are nevertheless still deemed acceptable variants by both Merriam-Webster Collegiate and American Heritage dictionaries. * The British English doubling is used for all inflections (''-ed'', ''-ing'', ''-er'', ''-est'') and for the noun suffixes ''-er'' and ''-or''. Therefore, British English usage is ''cancelled'', ''counsellor'', ''cruellest'', ''labelled'', ''modelling'', ''quarrelled'', ''signalling'', ''traveller'', and ''travelling''. Americans typically use ''canceled'', ''counselor'', ''cruelest'', ''labeled'', ''modeling'', ''quarreled'', ''signaling'', ''traveler'', and ''traveling''. However, for certain words such as ''cancelled'', the ''-ll-'' spelling is very common in American English as well. ** The word ''parallel'' keeps a single ''-l-'' in British English, as in American English (''paralleling'', ''unparalleled''), to avoid the unappealing cluster ''-llell-''. ** Words with two vowels before a final ''l'' are also spelled with ''-ll-'' in British English before a suffix when the first vowel either acts as a consonant (''equalling'' and ''initialled''; in the United States, ''equaling'' or ''initialed''), or belongs to a separate syllable (British ''fu•el•ling'' and ''di•alled''; American ''fu•el•ing'' and ''di•aled''). *** British ''woollen'' is a further exception due to the double vowel (American: ''woolen''). Also, ''wooly'' is accepted in American English, though ''woolly'' prevails in both systems. *** The verb ''surveil'', a back-formation from ''surveillance'', always makes ''surveilling'', ''surveilled''. * Endings ''-ize''/''-ise'', ''-ism'', ''-ist'', ''-ish'' usually do not double the ''l'' in British English; for example, ''normalise'', ''dualism'', ''novelist'', and ''devilish''. ** Exceptions: ''tranquillise''; ''duellist'', ''medallist'', ''panellist'', and sometimes ''triallist'' in British English. * For ''-ous'', British English has a single ''l'' in ''scandalous'' and ''perilous'', but the "ll" in ''marvellous'' and ''libellous''. * For ''-ee'', British English has ''libellee''. * For ''-age'', British English has ''pupillage'' but ''vassalage''. * American English sometimes has an unstressed ''-ll-'', as in the UK, in some words where the root has ''-l''. These are cases where the change happens in the source language, which was often Latin. (Examples: ''bimetallism'', ''cancellation'', ''chancellor'', ''crystallize'', ''excellent'', ''tonsillitis'', and ''raillery''.) * All forms of English have ''compelled'', ''excelling'', ''propelled'', ''rebelling'' (notice the stress difference); ''revealing'', ''fooling'' (note the double vowel before the l); and ''hurling'' (consonant before the ''l''). * Canadian and Australian English mostly follow British usage. Among consonants other than ''l'', practice varies for some words, such as where the final syllable has secondary stress or an unreduced vowel. In the United States, the spellings ''kidnaped'' and ''worshiped'', which were introduced by the ''Chicago Tribune'' in the 1920s, are common, but ''kidnapped'' and ''worshipped'' prevail. ''Kidnapped'' and ''worshipped'' are the only standard British spellings. However, ''focused'' is the predominant spelling in both British and American English, ''focussed'' being just a minor variant in British English. Miscellaneous: * British ''calliper'' or ''caliper''; American ''caliper''. * British ''jewellery''; American ''jewelry''. The word originates from the Old French word ''jouel'' (whose contemporary French equivalent is ''joyau'', with the same meaning). The standard pronunciation does not reflect this difference, but the non-standard pronunciation (which exists in New Zealand and Britain, hence the Cockney rhyming slang word ''tomfoolery'' ) does. According to Fowler, ''jewelry'' used to be the "rhetorical and poetic" spelling in the UK, and was still used by ''The Times'' into the mid-20th century. Canada has both, but ''jewellery'' is more often used. Likewise, the Commonwealth (including Canada) has ''jeweller'' and the US has ''jeweler'' for a jewel(le)ry seller.

Doubled in American English

Conversely, there are words where British writers prefer a single ''l'' and Americans a double ''l''. In American usage, the spelling of words is usually not changed when they form the main part (not prefix or suffix) of other words, especially in newly formed words and in words whose main part is in common use. Words with this spelling difference include ''willful'', ''skillful'', ''thralldom'', ''appall'', ''fulfill'', ''fulfillment'', ''enrollment'', ''installment''. These words have monosyllabic cognates always written with ''-ll'': ''will'', ''skill'', ''thrall'', ''pall'', ''fill'', ''roll'', ''stall''. Cases where a single ''l'' nevertheless occurs in both American and British English include ''null''→''annul'', ''annulment''; ''till''→''until'' (although some prefer ''til'' to reflect the single ''l'' in ''until'', sometimes using an apostrophe (til''); this should be considered a hypercorrection as ''till'' predates the use of ''until''); and others where the connection is not clear or the monosyllabic cognate is not in common use in American English (e.g., ''null'' is used mainly as a technical term in law, mathematics, and computer science). In the UK, a single ''l'' is generally preferred in American forms ''distill'', ''instill'', ''enroll'', and ''enthrallment'', and ''enthrall'', although ''ll'' was formerly used; these are always spelled with ''ll'' in American usage. The former British spellings ''instal'', ''fulness'', and ''dulness'' are now quite rare. The Scottish ''tolbooth'' is cognate with ''Tollbooth (disambiguation), tollbooth'', but it has a distinct meaning. In both American and British usages, words normally spelled ''-ll'' usually drop the second ''l'' when used as prefixes or suffixes, for example ''full''→''useful'', ''handful''; ''all''→''almighty'', ''altogether''; ''well''→''welfare'', ''welcome''; ''chill''→''chilblain''. Both the British ''fulfil'' and the American ''fulfill'' never use ''-ll-'' in the middle (i.e., *''fullfill'' and *''fullfil'' are incorrect). Johnson wavered on this issue. His dictionary of 1755 Lemmatization, lemmatizes ''distil'' and ''instill'', ''downhil'' and ''uphill''.

Dropped "e"

British English sometimes keeps a silent "e" when adding suffixes where American English does not. Generally speaking, British English drops it in only some cases in which it is needed to show pronunciation whereas American English only uses it where needed. * British prefers ''ageing'', American usually ''aging'' (compare ''raging'', ''ageism''). For the noun or verb "route", British English often uses ''routeing'', but in America ''routing'' is used. The military term ''rout'' forms ''routing'' everywhere. However, all of these words form "router", whether used in the context of carpentry, data communications, or the military. (e.g., "Attacus was the router of the Huns at ....") Both forms of English keep the silent "e" in the words ''dyeing'', ''singeing'', and ''swingeing'' (in the sense of ''dye'', ''singe'', and ''swinge''), to distinguish from ''dying'', ''singing'', ''swinging'' (in the sense of ''die'', ''sing'', and ''swing''). In contrast, the verb ''bathe'' and the British verb ''bath'' both form ''bathing''. Both forms of English vary for ''tinge'' and ''twinge''; both prefer ''cringing'', ''hinging'', ''lunging'', ''syringing''. * Before ''-able'', British English prefers ''likeable'', ''liveable'', ''rateable'', ''saleable'', ''sizeable'', ''unshakeable'',British National Corpus where American practice prefers to drop the "-e"; but both British and American English prefer ''breathable'', ''curable'', ''datable'', ''lovable'', ''movable'', ''notable'', ''provable'', ''quotable'', ''scalable'', ''solvable'', ''usable'', and those where the root is polysyllabic, like ''believable'' or ''decidable''. Both systems keep the silent "e" when it is needed to preserve a soft "c", "ch", or "g", such as in ''traceable'', ''cacheable'', ''changeable''; both usually keep the "e" after "-dge", as in ''knowledgeable'', ''unbridgeable'', and ''unabridgeable'' ("These rights are unabridgeable"). * Both ''abridgment'' and the more regular ''abridgement'' are current in the US, only the latter in the UK. Likewise for the word ''lodg(e)ment''. Both ''judgment'' and ''judgement'' are in use interchangeably everywhere, although the former prevails in the US and the latter prevails in the UK except in the practice of law, where ''judgment'' is standard. This also holds for ''abridgment'' and ''acknowledgment''. Both systems prefer ''wiktionary:fledgling, fledgling'' to ''fledgeling'', but ''ridgeling'' to ''ridgling''. ''Acknowledgment'', ''acknowledgement'', ''abridgment'' and ''abridgement'' are all used in Australia; the shorter forms are endorsed by the Australian Capital Territory Government. Apart from when the "e" is dropped and in the word ''gaol'' and some pronunciations of ''margarine'', "g" can only be soft when followed by an "e", "i", or "y". *The word "blue" always drops the "e" when forming "bluish" or "bluing".

Hard and soft "c"

A "c" is generally soft when followed by an "e", "i", or "y". One word with a pronunciation that is an exception in British English, "sceptic", is spelled "skeptic" in American English. See #Miscellaneous_spelling_differences, ''Miscellaneous spelling differences'' below.

Different spellings for different meanings

* ''dependant'' or ''dependent'' (noun): British dictionaries distinguish between ''dependent'' (adjective) and ''dependant'' (noun). In the US, ''dependent'' is usual for both noun and adjective, regardless of ''dependant'' also being an acceptable variant for the noun form in the US. * ''disc'' or ''disk'': Traditionally, ''disc'' used to be British and ''disk'' American. Both spellings are etymologically sound (Greek ''diskos'', Latin ''discus''), although ''disk'' is earlier. In computing, ''disc'' is used for optical discs (e.g., a CD, Compact Disc; DVD, Digital Versatile/Video Disc; MCA Inc., MCA DiscoVision, LaserDisc), by choice of the group that coined and trademarked the name Compact Disc, while ''disk'' is used for products using magnetic storage (e.g., hard disk drive, hard disks or floppy disks, also known as diskettes). * ''enquiry'' or ''inquiry'': According to Fowler, ''inquiry'' should be used in relation to a formal inquest, and ''enquiry'' to the act of questioning. Many (though not all) British writers maintain this distinction; the ''OED'', in their entry dating from 1900, lists ''inquiry'' and ''enquiry'' as equal alternatives, in that order (with the addition of "public inquiry" in a 1993 addition). Some British dictionaries, such as ''Chambers 21st Century Dictionary'', present the two spellings as interchangeable variants in the general sense, but prefer ''inquiry'' for the "formal inquest" sense. In the US, only ''inquiry'' is commonly used; the title of the ''National Enquirer'', as a proper name, is an exception. In Australia, ''inquiry'' and ''enquiry'' are often interchangeable. Both are current in Canada, where ''enquiry'' is often associated with scholarly or intellectual research. * ''ensure'' or ''insure'': In the UK, Australia and New Zealand, the word ''ensure'' (to make sure, to make certain) has a distinct meaning from the word ''insure'' (often followed by ''against'' – to guarantee or protect against, typically by means of an "insurance policy"). The distinction is only about a century old. In American usage, ''insure'' may also be used in the former sense, but ''ensure'' may not be used in the latter sense. According to Merriam-Webster's usage notes, ''ensure'' and ''insure'' "are interchangeable in many contexts where they indicate the making certain or [making] inevitable of an outcome, but ''ensure'' may imply a virtual guarantee 'the government has ''ensured'' the safety of the refugees', while ''insure'' sometimes stresses the taking of necessary measures beforehand 'careful planning should ''insure'' the success of the party'." * ''matt'' or ''matte'': In the UK, ''matt'' refers to a non-glossy surface, and ''matte'' to the matte (filmmaking), motion-picture technique; in the US, ''matte'' covers both. * ''programme'' or ''program'': The British ''programme'' is from post-classical Latin ''programma'' and French ''programme''. ''Program'' first appeared in Scotland in 1633 (earlier than ''programme'' in England in 1671) and is the only spelling found in the US. The ''OED'' entry, updated in 2007, says that ''program'' conforms to the usual representation of Greek as in ''anagram'', ''diagram'', ''telegram'' etc. In British English, ''program'' is the common spelling for computer programs, but for other meanings ''programme'' is used. New Zealand also follows this pattern. In Australia, ''program'' has been endorsed by government writing standards for all meanings since the 1960s, and is listed as the official spelling in the ''Macquarie Dictionary''; see also the name of ''The Micallef P(r)ogram(me)#Name changes, The Micallef P(r)ogram(me)''. In Canada, ''program'' prevails, and the ''Canadian Oxford Dictionary'' makes no meaning-based distinction between it and ''programme''. However, some Canadian government documents nevertheless use ''programme'' for all meanings of the word – and also to match the spelling of the French equivalent. * '' tonne'' or ''ton'': In the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, the spelling ''tonne'' refers to the metric unit (1,000 kilograms), which is the nomenclature used in SI units, whereas in the US the same unit is called a ''metric ton''. The unqualified ''ton'' usually refers to the long ton () in the UK and to the short ton () in the US (but note that the tonne and long ton differ by only 1.6%, and are roughly interchangeable when accuracy is not critical; ton and tonne are usually pronounced the same in speech). * ''metre#Spelling, meter/metre'': In British English there is a distinction between ''metre'' as a unit of length, and a ''meter'' in the sense of an ammeter or a water meter, whereas the standard American spelling for both is "meter".

Different spellings for different pronunciations

In a few cases, Lexeme, essentially the same word has a different spelling that reflects a different pronunciation. As well as the miscellaneous cases listed in the following table, the past tenses of some irregular verbs differ in both spelling and pronunciation, as with ''smelt'' (UK) versus ''smelled'' (US) (see American and British English differences#Verb morphology, American and British English differences: Verb morphology).

Past tense differences

In the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, it is more common to end some past tense verbs with a "t" as in '':wikt:learnt, learnt'' or '':wikt:dreamt, dreamt'' rather than ''learned'' or ''dreamed''. However, such spellings are also found in American English. Several verbs have different past tenses or past participles in American and British English: *The past tense of the verb "to dive" is most commonly found as "dived" in British, Australian, and New Zealand English. "Dove" is usually used in its place in American English. Both terms are understood in Canada, and may be found either in minority use or in regional dialect in America. *The past participle and past tense of the verb "to get" is "got" in British and New Zealand English but "gotten" in American and Canadian, and occasionally in Australian English, though "got" is widely used as a past tense. Both terms are understood, and may be found either in minority use or in regional dialect. The main exception is in the phrase "ill-gotten", which is widely used in British, Australian and New Zealand English. This does not affect "forget" and "beget", whose past participles are "forgotten" and "begotten" in all varieties.

Miscellaneous spelling differences

In the table below, the main spellings are above the accepted alternative spellings. }. Webster favoured ''apothegm'', which matches la, apothegma, and was also more common in England until Johnson. There is an unrelated word spelled ''apothem'' in all regions. , - valign="top" , wikt:artefact, artefact,
wikt:artifact, artifact , , artifact , , In British English, ''artefact'' is the main spelling and ''artifact'' a minor variant. In American English, ''artifact'' is the usual spelling. Canadians prefer ''artifact'' and Australians ''artefact'', according to their respective dictionaries. ''Artefact'' reflects ''Arte-fact(um)'', the Latin source. , - valign="top" , wikt:axe, axe , , wikt:ax, ax,
axe , , Both the noun and verb. The word comes from Old English ''æx''. In the US, both spellings are acceptable and commonly used. The Oxford English Dictionary states that "the spelling ''ax'' is better on every ground, of etymology, phonology, and analogy, than ''axe'', which became prevalent in the 19th century; but it ["ax"] is now disused in Britain". , - valign="top" , wikt:camomile, camomile, wikt:chamomile, chamomile , , chamomile, camomile , , The word derives, via French and Latin, from Greek χαμαίμηλον ("earth apple"). The more common British spelling "camomile", corresponding to the immediate French source, is the older in English, while the spelling "chamomile" more accurately corresponds to the ultimate Latin and Greek source. In the UK, according to the ''OED'', "the spelling ''cha-'' is chiefly in pharmacy, after Latin; that with ''ca-'' is literary and popular". In the US ''chamomile'' dominates in all senses. , - valign="top" , wikt:carat, carat , , carat, wikt:karat, karat, , The spelling with a "k" is used in the US only for the measure of purity of gold. The "c" spelling is universal for weight. , - valign="top" , wikt:cheque, cheque , , check , , In banking. Hence ''pay cheque'' and ''paycheck''. Accordingly, the North American term for what is known as a ''current account'' or ''cheque account'' in the UK is spelled ''chequing account'' in Canada and ''checking account'' in the US. Some American financial institutions, notably American Express, use ''cheque'', but this is merely a trademarking affectation. , - valign="top" , wikt:chequer, chequer , , checker , , As in ''chequerboard''/''checkerboard'', ''chequered''/''checkered flag'' etc. In Canada as in the US. , - valign="top" , wikt:chilli, chilli , , wikt:chili, chili,
wikt:chile, chile , , The original Mexican Spanish word is ''chile'', itself derived from the Classical Nahuatl ''chilli''. In ''Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary'', ''chile'' and ''chilli'' are given as ''also'' variants. , - valign="top" , wikt:cipher, cipher, wikt:cypher, cypher, , cipher , , , - valign="top" , wikt:coulter, coulter,
wikt:colter, colter , , colter , , , - valign="top" , wikt:cosy, cosy , , wikt:cozy, cozy , , In all senses (adjective, noun, verb). , - valign="top" , wikt:dyke, dyke , , wikt:dike, dike , , The spelling with "i" is sometimes found in the UK, but the "y" spelling is rare in the US, where the ''y'' distinguishes ''dike'' in this sense from ''dyke'', a (usually offensive) slang term for a lesbian. , - valign="top" , wikt:doughnut, doughnut, , doughnut, wikt:donut, donut , , In the US, both are used, with ''donut'' indicated as a less common variant of ''doughnut''. , - valign="top" , wikt:draught, draught
draft , , draft , , British English usually uses ''draft'' for all senses as the verb; for a preliminary version of a document; for an order of payment (bank draft), and for military conscription (although this last meaning is not as common as in American English). It uses ''draught'' for drink from a cask (draught beer); for animals used for pulling heavy loads (draught horse); for a current of air; for Draft (hull), a ship's minimum depth of water to float; and for the game ''draughts'', known as ''checkers'' in America. It uses either ''draught'' or ''draft'' for a plan or sketch (but almost always ''draughtsman'' in this sense; a ''draftsman'' drafts legal documents). American English uses ''draft'' in all these cases. Canada uses both systems; in Australia, ''draft'' is used for technical drawings, is accepted for the "current of air" meaning, and is preferred by professionals in the nautical sense. The pronunciation is always the same for all meanings within a dialect (RP , General American ). The spelling ''draught'' reflects the older pronunciation, . ''Draft'' emerged in the 16th century to reflect the change in pronunciation. , - valign="top" , wikt:gauge, gauge , , gauge,
wikt:gage, gage , , Both spellings have existed since Middle English. , - valign="top" , wikt:gauntlet, gauntlet , , gauntlet, wikt:gantlet, gantlet , , When meaning "ordeal", in the phrase ''running the gauntlet, running the ga(u)ntlet'', some American style guides prefer ''gantlet''. This spelling is unused in Britain and less usual in America than ''gauntlet''. The word is an alteration of earlier ''gantlope'' by folk etymology with gauntlet (glove), gauntlet ("armoured glove"), always spelled thus. , - valign="top" , wikt:glycerine, glycerine , , wikt:glycerin, glycerin, glycerine , , Scientists use the term glycerol, but both spellings are used sporadically in the US. , - valign="top" , wikt:grey, grey , , wikt:gray, gray, grey , , ''Grey'' became the established British spelling in the 20th century, but it is a minor variant in American English, according to dictionaries. Canadians tend to prefer ''grey''. The two spellings are of equal antiquity, and the Oxford English Dictionary states that "each of the current spellings has some analogical support". Both ''Grey'' and ''Gray'' are found in proper nouns everywhere in the English-speaking world. The name of the dog breed ''greyhound'' is never spelled ''grayhound''; the word descends from ''grighund''. , - valign="top" , grill,
wikt:grille, grille , , wikt:grill, grill,
grille , , In the US, "grille" refers to that of an automobile, whereas "grill" refers to a device used for heating food. However, it is not uncommon to see both spellings used in the automotive sense, as well as in Australia and New Zealand. ''Grill'' is more common overall in both BrE and AmE. , - valign="top" , wikt:hearken, hearken , , wikt:hearken, hearken,
harken , , The word comes from ''wikt:hark, hark''. The spelling ''hearken'' was probably influenced by ''wikt:hear, hear''. Both spellings are found everywhere. , - valign="top" , wikt:idyll, idyll , , wikt:idyl, idyl, idyll , , ''Idyl'' was the spelling of the word preferred in the US by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, for the same reason as the double consonant rule; ''idyll'', the original form from Greek ''eidullion'', is now generally used in both the UK and US. , - valign="top" , wikt:jail, jail,
wikt:gaol, gaol , , jail , , In the UK, ''gaol'' and ''gaoler'' are used sometimes, apart from literary usage, chiefly to describe a medieval building and guard. Both spellings go back to Middle English: ''gaol'' was a loanword from Norman French, while ''jail'' was a loanword from central (Parisian) French. In Middle English the two spellings were associated with different pronunciations. In current English the word, however spelled, is always given the pronunciation originally associated only with the ''jail'' spelling . The survival of the ''gaol'' spelling in British English is "due to statutory and official tradition". , - valign="top" , wikt:kerb, kerb , , wikt:curb, curb , , For the noun designating the edge of a roadway (or the edge of a British pavement/ American sidewalk/ Australian footpath). ''Curb'' is the older spelling, and in the UK and US it is still the proper spelling for the verb meaning ''restrain''. , - valign="top" , wikt:kilogram, (kilo)gram,
, , (kilo)gram , , The dated spelling ''(kilo)gramme'' is used sometimes in the UK but never in the US. ''(Kilo)gram'' is the only spelling used by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. , - valign="top" , wikt:liquorice, liquorice , , wikt:licorice, licorice , , The American spelling is nearer the Old French source ''licorece'', which is ultimately from Greek ''glykyrrhiza''. The British spelling was influenced by the unrelated word ''liquor''. ''Licorice'' prevails in Canada and it is common in Australia, but it is rarely found in the UK. ''Liquorice'' is all but nonexistent in the US ("Chiefly British", according to dictionaries). , - valign="top" , wikt:midriff, midriff , , midriff, midrif , , , - valign="top" , wikt:mollusc, mollusc , , wikt:mollusk, mollusk, mollusc , , The related adjective may be spelled ''molluscan'' or ''molluskan''. , - valign="top" , wikt:mould, mould , , wikt:mold, mold , , In all senses of the word. Both spellings have been used since the 16th century. In Canada, both spellings are used. In New Zealand, "mold" refers to a form for casting a shape while "mould" refers to the fungus. , - valign="top" , wikt:moult, moult , , wikt:molt, molt , , , - valign="top" , wikt:neurone, neurone, neuron , , neuron , , , - valign="top" , wikt:omelette, omelette , , wikt:omelet, omelet,
omelette , , The ''omelet'' spelling is the older of the two, in spite of the etymology (French ''omelette''). ''Omelette'' prevails in Canada and Australia. , - valign="top" , wikt:plough, plough , , wikt:plow, plow , , Both spellings have existed since Middle English. In England, ''plough'' became the main spelling in the 18th century. Although ''plow'' was Noah Webster's pick, ''plough'' continued to have some currency in the US, as the entry in ''Webster's Third'' (1961) implies. Newer dictionaries label ''plough'' as "chiefly British". The word ''snowplough''/''snowplow'', originally an Americanism, predates Webster's dictionaries and was first recorded as ''snow plough''. Canada has both ''plough'' and ''plow'', although ''snowplow'' is more common. In the US, "plough" sometimes describes a horsedrawn kind while "plow" refers to a gasoline (petrol) powered kind. , - valign="top" , primaeval, primeval, , primeval, , Primeval is also common in the UK but etymologically 'ae' is nearer the Latin source ''primus'' first + ''aevum'' age. , - valign="top" , programme, program, , program, , While "program" is used in British English in the case of computer programs, "programme" is the spelling most commonly used for all other meanings. However, in American English, "program" is the preferred form. , - valign="top" , rack and ruin , , wrack and ruin , , Several words like "rack" and "wrack" have been conflated, with both spellings thus accepted as variants for senses connected to torture (orig. ''rack (torture), rack'') and ruin (orig. ''wrack'', cf. ''wreck'') In "(w)rack and ruin", the W-less variant is now prevalent in the UK but not the US. The term, however, is rare in the US. , - valign="top" , wikt:sceptic, sceptic,
wikt:skeptic, skeptic, , skeptic , , The American spelling, akin to Greek, is the earliest known spelling in English. It was preferred by Fowler, and is used by many Canadians, where it is the earlier form. ''Sceptic'' also pre-dates the European settlement of the US and it follows the French ''sceptique'' and Latin ''scepticus''. In the mid-18th century, Dr Johnson's dictionary listed ''skeptic'' without comment or alternative, but this form has never been popular in the UK; ''sceptic'', an equal variant in the old ''Webster's Third'' (1961), has now become "chiefly British". Australians generally follow the British usage (with the notable exception of the Australian Skeptics). All of these versions are pronounced with a /k/ (a hard "c"), though in French that letter is silent and the word is pronounced like ''septique''. , - valign="top" , wikt:slew#Etymology 2, slew, wikt:slue, slue , , slue, slew , , Meaning "to turn sharply; a sharp turn", the preferred spelling differs. Meaning "a great number" is usually ''slew'' in all regions. , - valign="top" , Smouldering, smoulder , , wikt:smolder, smolder , , Both spellings go back to the 16th century, and have existed since Middle English. , - valign="top" , wikt:storey, storey, storeys , , wikt:story, story, stories , , Level of a building. The letter "e" is used in the UK and Canada to differentiate between levels of buildings and a story as in a literary work. ''Story'' is the earlier spelling. The Oxford English Dictionary states that this word is "probably the same word as story [in its meaning of "narrative"] though the development of sense is obscure." One of the first uses of the (now British) spelling "storey" was by Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1852 (''Uncle Tom's Cabin'' xxxii). , - valign="top" , Wikt:sulphate, sulphate,
sulfate , , wikt:sulfate, sulfate,
sulphate , , The spelling ''sulfate'' is the more common variant in British English in scientific and technical usage; see the entry on ''sulfur'' and the decisions of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC)So long sulphur , Nature Chemistry
/ref> and the UK's Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). , - valign="top" , sulphur, sulfur , , Wikt:sulfur, sulfur,
sulphur , , ''Sulfur'' is the preferred spelling by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) since 1971 or 1990 and by the UK's Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) since 1992. ''Sulfur'' is used by scientists in all countries and has been actively taught in chemistry in British schools since December 2000, but the spelling ''sulphur'' prevails in British, Irish and Australian English, and it is also found in some American place names (e.g., Sulphur, Louisiana, and White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia). Use of both variant ''f~ph'' spellings continued in Britain until the 19th century, when the word was standardized as ''sulphur''. On the other hand, ''sulfur'' is the form that was chosen in the United States, whereas Canada uses both. Oxford Dictionaries note that "in chemistry and other technical uses ... the ''-f-'' spelling is now the standard form for this and related words in British as well as US contexts, and is increasingly used in general contexts as well." Some American English usage guides suggest ''sulfur'' for technical usage and both ''sulfur'' and ''sulphur'' in common usage and in literature, but American dictionaries list ''sulphur'' as a less common or chiefly British variant. The variation between ''f'' and ''ph'' spellings is also found in the word's ultimate source: Latin ''sulfur'', ''sulphur'', but this was due to Hellenization of the original Latin word ' to ' in the erroneous belief that the Latin word came from Greek. This spelling was later reinterpreted as representing an /f/ sound and resulted in the spelling ' which appears in Latin toward the end of the Classical antiquity, Classical period. (The true Greek word for sulfur, , is the source of the international chemical prefix ''thio-''.) In 12th-century
Anglo-French Anglo-French is a term used in contexts involving France and the United Kingdom (UK). Strictly, the designation "wiktionary:Anglo-, Anglo-" refers specifically to England, not the UK as a whole, but it is understood to refer to the UK and not only E ...
, the word became '. In the 14th century, the erroneously Hellenized Latin ' was restored in Middle English '. By the 15th century, both full Latin spelling variants ''sulfur'' and ''sulphur'' became common in English. , - valign="top" , wikt:through, through , , through,
wikt:thru, thru , , "Thru" is typically used in the US as shorthand. It may be acceptable in informal writing, but for formal documents, "thru" would generally be viewed as "not correct English" and "not a real word". Because "thru" is much shorter than "through", it may also carry a negative connotation, as though the writer of "thru" were "cutting corners" and was "too lazy" to fully spell out "through". "Thru" is commonly used on official road signs in the US, as in "no thru traffic", to save space. In the COBOL programming language, THRU is accepted as an abbreviation of the keyword THROUGH. Since programmers like to keep their code brief, THRU is generally the preferred form of this keyword. , - valign="top" , wikt:tyre, tyre , , wikt:tire, tire , , The outer portion of a wheel. In Canada, as in the US, ''tire'' is the older spelling, but both were used in the 15th and 16th centuries (for a metal tire). ''Tire'' became the settled spelling in the 17th century but ''tyre'' was revived in the UK in the 19th century for rubber/pneumatic tyres, possibly because it was used in some patent documents, though many continued to use ''tire'' for the iron variety. ''The Times'' newspaper was still using ''tire'' as late as 1905. For the verb meaning "to grow weary" both American and British English use only the ''tire'' spelling. , - valign="top" , wikt:vice, vice , , wikt:vise, vise, vice , , For the vise, two-jawed workbench tool, Americans and Canadians retain the very old distinction between ''vise'' (the tool) and ''vice'' (the sin, and also the Latin prefix meaning a deputy), both of which are ''vice'' in the UK and Australia. Regarding the "sin" and "deputy" word sense, senses of ''vice'', all varieties of English use ''-c-''. Thus American English, just as other varieties, has ''vice admiral'', ''vice president'', and ''vice principal''—never ''vise'' for any of those. , - valign="top" , whisky (Scotland), Irish whiskey, whiskey (Ireland) , , American whiskey, whiskey, whisky , , In the United States, the ''whiskey'' spelling is dominant; ''whisky'' is encountered less frequently, but is used on the labels of some major brands (e.g., Early Times, George Dickel, Maker's Mark, and Old Forester) and is used in the relevant US federal regulations. In Canada, ''whisky'' is dominant. Often the spelling is selected based on the origin of the product rather than the location of the intended readership, so it may be considered a ''faux pas'' to refer to "Scotch whiskey" or "Irish whisky". Both ultimately derive from "uisce beatha" (Irish) and "uisge beatha" (Scottish) meaning 'water of life'. , - valign="top" , wikt:yoghurt, yoghurt,
wikt:yogurt, yogurt,
wikt:yoghourt, yoghourt , , yogurt,
yoghurt , , ''Yoghurt'' is an also-ran in the US, as is ''yoghourt'' in the UK. Although the Oxford Dictionaries have always preferred ''yogurt'', in current British usage ''yoghurt'' seems to be prevalent. In Canada, ''yogurt'' prevails, despite the Canadian Oxford preferring ''yogourt'', which has the advantage of satisfying bilingual (English and French) packaging requirements. Australian usage tends to follow the UK. Whatever the spelling is, the word has different pronunciations: in the UK, in New Zealand, America, Ireland, and Australia. The word comes from the Turkish language word ''yoğurt''. The voiced velar fricative represented by ğ in the Turkish alphabet, modern Turkish (Latinic) alphabet was traditionally written ''gh'' in romanization of Arabic, Latin script of the Ottoman Turkish alphabet, Ottoman Turkish (Arabic) alphabet used before 1928.

Compounds and hyphens

British English often prefers hyphenated compounds, such as ''anti-smoking'', whereas American English discourages the use of hyphens in compounds where there is no compelling reason, so ''antismoking'' is much more common. Many dictionaries do not point out such differences. Canadian and Australian usage is mixed, although Commonwealth writers generally hyphenate compounds of the form noun plus phrase (such as ''editor-in-chief''). Commander-in-chief prevails in all forms of English. Compound verbs in British English are hyphenated more often than in American English. * ''any more'' or ''anymore'': In sense "any longer", the single-word form is usual in North America and Australia but unusual elsewhere, at least in formal writing. Other senses always have the two-word form; thus Americans distinguish "I couldn't love you anymore [so I left you]" from "I couldn't love you any more [than I already do]". In Hong Kong English, ''any more'' is always two words. * ''for ever'' or ''forever'': Traditional British English usage makes a distinction between ''for ever'', meaning for eternity (or a very long time into the future), as in "If you are waiting for income tax to be abolished you will probably have to wait for ever"; and ''forever'', meaning continually, always, as in "They are forever arguing". In British usage today, however, ''forever'' prevails in the "for eternity" sense as well, in spite of several style guides maintaining the distinction. American writers usually use ''forever'' regardless of which sense they intend (although ''forever'' in the sense of "continually" is comparatively rare in American English, having been displaced by ''always''). * ''near by'' or ''nearby'': Some British writers make the distinction between the adverbial ''near by'', which is written as two words, as in, "No one was near by"; and the adjectival ''nearby'', which is written as one, as in, "The nearby house". In American English, the one-word spelling is standard for both forms. * ''per cent'' or ''percent'': It can be correctly spelled as either one or two words, depending on the Anglophone country, but either spelling must always be consistent with its usage. British English predominantly spells it as two words, so does English in Ireland and countries in the Commonwealth of Nations such as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. American English predominantly spells it as one word. Historically, it used to be spelled as two words in the United States, but its usage is diminishing; nevertheless it is a variant spelling in American English today. The spelling difference is reflected in the style guides of newspapers and other media agencies in the US, Ireland, and countries of the Commonwealth of Nations. In Canada (and sometimes in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, other Commonwealth countries, and Ireland) ''percent'' is also found, mostly sourced from American press agencies.

Acronyms and abbreviations

Acronyms pronounced as words are often written in title case by Commonwealth writers, but usually as upper case by Americans: for example, ''NASA, Nasa / NASA'' or ''UNICEF, Unicef / UNICEF''. This does not apply to abbreviations that are pronounced as individual letters (referred to by some as "Acronym#Nomenclature, initialisms"), such as ''US'', ''IBM'', or ''PRC'' (the People's Republic of China), which are virtually always written as upper case. However, sometimes title case is still used in the UK, such as ''Pc'' (Law enforcement in the United Kingdom, Police Constable). Contraction (grammar), Contractions where the final letter is present are often written in British English without full stops/periods (''Mr'', ''Mrs'', ''Dr'', ''St'', ''Ave''). Abbreviations where the final letter is not present generally do take full stops/periods (such as ''vol.'', ''etc.'', ''i.e.'', ''ed.''); British English shares this convention with the French: ''Mlle'', ''Mme'', ''Dr'', ''Ste'', but ''M.'' for ''Monsieur''. In American and Canadian English, abbreviations like ''St.'', ''Ave.'', ''Mr.'', ''Mrs.'', ''Ms.'', ''Dr.'', and ''Jr.'', usually require full stops/periods. Some initials are usually upper case in the US but lower case in the UK: litre, liter/litre and its compounds (''2 L'' or ''25 mL'' vs ''2 l'' or ''25 ml''); and 12-hour clock, ante meridiem and post meridiem (''10 P.M.'' or ''10 PM'' vs ''10 p.m.'' or ''10 pm''). Both ''AM/PM'' and ''a.m./p.m.'' are acceptable in American English, but U.S. style guides overwhelmingly prefer ''a.m./p.m.''


The use of quotation marks, also called inverted commas or speech marks, is complicated by the fact that there are two kinds: Apostrophe, single quotation marks (') and Quotation mark, double quotation marks ("). British usage, at one stage in the recent past, preferred single quotation marks for ordinary use, but double quotation marks are again now increasingly common; American usage has always preferred double quotation marks, as have Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand English. It is the practice to alternate the type of quotation marks used where there is a quotation within a quotation. The convention used to be, and in American English still is, to put full stops (periods) and commas inside the quotation marks, irrespective of the sense. British style now prefers to punctuate according to the sense, in which punctuation marks only appear inside quotation marks if they were there in the original. Formal British English practice requires a full stop to be put inside the quotation marks if the quoted item is a full sentence that ends where the main sentence ends, but it is common to see the stop outside the ending quotation marks.

See also

Australian English Australian English (AusE,AusEng, AuE, AuEng, en-AU) is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to Australia. Australian English is the country's national and ''de facto'' common language. English is the Lan ...
Canadian English Canadian English (CanE, CE, en-CA) is the set of varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of alg ...
* English language in England * English in the Commonwealth of Nations *
English orthography English orthography is the system of writing conventions used to represent spoken English in written form that allows readers to connect spelling to sound to meaning. Like the orthography of most world languages, English orthography has a broad ...
* Hong Kong English * Hiberno-English * Indian English * Malaysian English * Manx English *
New Zealand English New Zealand English (NZE) is the dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of phenomena: * One usage refers to a of a ...
* Philippine English * Scottish English * Singaporean English * South African English





* Chambers, J.K. (1998). "Canadian English: 250 Years in the Making", in ''The Canadian Oxford Dictionary'', 2nd ed., p. xi. * Clark, Joe (2009).
Organizing Our Marvellous Neighbours: How to Feel Good About Canadian English
' (e-book, version 1.1). . * Fowler, Henry; Winchester, Simon (introduction) (2003 reprint). ''A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (Oxford Language Classics Series)''. Oxford Press. . * Hargraves, Orin (2003). ''Mighty Fine Words and Smashing Expressions''. Oxford: Oxford University Press. * * * ''Oxford English Dictionary'', 20 vols. (1989) Oxford University Press. * * ''Webster's Third New International Dictionary'' (1961; repr. 2002) Merriam-Webster, Inc.

External links

''The Chicago Manual of Style''Word substitution list
by th
Ubuntu English (United Kingdom) Translators teamWhat will the English language be like in 100 years?
(future outlook) {{DEFAULTSORT:American And British English Spelling Differences American and British English differences, Spelling differences English orthography Internationalization and localization