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Despite the various English dialects spoken from country to country and within different regions of the same country, there are only slight regional variations in English orthography, 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 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's ''A Dictionary of the English Language'', and an "American standard" started following the work of Noah Webster and, in particular, his ''An American Dictionary of the English Language'', first published in 1828. Webster's efforts at spelling reform were somewhat effective in his native country, resulting in certain well-known patterns of spelling differences between the American and British varieties of English. However, English-language spelling reform has rarely been adopted otherwise. As a result, modern English orthography varies only minimally between countries and is far from phonemic in any country.


Historical origins


In the early 18th century, English spelling was inconsistent. These differences became noticeable after the publishing of influential dictionaries. Today's British English spellings mostly follow Johnson's ''A Dictionary of the English Language'' (1755), while many American English 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 reasons both philological 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's first folios, for example, used spellings such as ''center'' and ''color'' as much as ''centre'' and ''colour''.''-or''
Online Etymology Dictionary.
Webster did attempt to introduce some reformed spellings, as did the Simplified Spelling Board in the early 20th century, but most were not adopted. In Britain, the influence of those who preferred the Norman (or Anglo-French) 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 and Ireland closely resemble the British system. In Canada, 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 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 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'', ''velour'', ''paramour'' and ''troubadour'' 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, and the ending was spelled ''-our'', ''-or'' or ''-ur''.''Webster's Third,'' p. 24a. After the Norman conquest of England, 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's plays used both spellings before they were standardised to ''-our'' in the Fourth Folio of 1685. After the Renaissance, 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 ''arbo(u)r'', meaning "shelter", though senses "tree" and "tool" are always ''arbor'', a false cognate 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 notes that "' appears in the 1776 Declaration of Independence, but it seems to have been put there rather by accident than by design". In Jefferson's original draft it is spelled "honour". In Britain, examples of rarely appear in Old Bailey 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'', a district of London.

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'', ''humorist'', ''vigorous'', ''humorous'', ''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.

Exceptions

American usage, in most cases, keeps the ''u'' in the word ''glamour'', 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 invitations in the US. The name of the has a ''u'' in it because the spacecraft was named after British Captain James Cook's ship, . The (former) special car on Amtrak's ''Coast Starlight'' train is known as the Pacific Parlour car, not ''Pacific Parlor''. Proper names such as ''Pearl Harbor'' or ''Sydney Harbour'' are usually spelled according to their native-variety spelling vocabulary. The name of the herb ''savory'' 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'' has a ''u'' in the UK; the medical term ''rigor'' (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'' was once somewhat common in American usage but has disappeared except in some brand names such as 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 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. 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. Aside from that, ''-our'' is now almost universal in Australia. New Zealand English, while sharing some words and syntax with Australian English, 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 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'', ''December'', ''disaster'', ''enter'', ''filter'', ''letter'', ''member'', ''minister'', ''monster'', ''November'', ''number'', ''October'', ''offer'', ''oyster'', ''powder'', ''proper'', ''September'', ''sober'' and ''tender''. Words using the ''"-meter"'' suffix (from Ancient Greek -μέτρον ''métron'', via French ''-mètre'') normally had the ''-re'' spelling from earliest use in English but were superseded by ''-er''. Examples include ''thermometer'' and ''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 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 ''meter'' for a measuring instrument from ' for the unit of length. But, while "" is often spelled as ''-re'', pentameter, hexameter, etc. are always ''-er''.

Exceptions

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'') ''lucre'', ''massacre'', and ''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. ''Fire'' and its associated adjective ''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 ''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 ''Centre'' in their names. Examples include the Stonebriar Centre mall, the cities of Rockville Centre and Centreville, Centre County and Centre College. Sometimes, these places were named before spelling changes but more often the spelling serves as an affectation. Proper names 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 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'', ''genre'' and ''oeuvre''. However, the unstressed pronunciation of an ''-er'' ending is used more (or less) often with some words, including ''cadre'', ''macabre'', ''maître d''', Notre Dame, ''piastre'', and ''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).

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

For ''advice''/''advise'' and ''device''/''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 ''licence/license'' or ''practice/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 ''license'' and ''practice'' for both nouns and verbs (with - pronunciation in both cases too). American English has kept the Anglo-French spelling for ''defense'' and ''offense'', which are ''defence'' and ''offence'' in British English. Likewise, there are the American ''pretense'' and British ''pretence''; but derivatives such as ''defensive'', ''offensive'', and ''pretension'' are always thus spelled in both systems. Australian and Canadian usage generally follows British.

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

The spelling ''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 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'', ''anaemia'', ''anaesthesia'', ''caecum'', ''caesium'', ''coeliac'', ''diarrhoea'', ''encyclopaedia'', ''faeces'', ''foetal'', ''gynaecology'', ''haemoglobin'', ''haemophilia'', ''leukaemia'', ''oesophagus'', ''oestrogen'', ''orthopaedic'', ''palaeontology'', ''paediatric'', ''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 ''haem'' (named as a shortening of ''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'', for which the simplified form ''palestra'' is described by Merriam-Webster as "chiefly Britsh" 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 Ancient Greek diphthongs <αι> and <οι> were transliterated into Latin as and . The 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'', and usually ''subpoena'', but Phenix in Virginia. This is especially true of names: ''Caesar'', ''Oedipus'', ''Phoebe'', etc. There is no reduction of 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.

Usage

American spelling avoids ''-ise'' endings in words like ''organize'', ''realize'' and ''recognize''. British spelling mostly uses ''-ise'' (''organise'', ''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'', 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.

Exceptions

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 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, whereas there have been US ships and spacecraft named "Enterprise". Some words spelled with ''-ize'' in American English are 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 John Kersey's of 1702, Nathan Bailey's of 1721 and 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 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 ''demagogue'', ''pedagogue'', and ''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. 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). 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. 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'', 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 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 ''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'' 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 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 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 akinginevitable 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 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)''. 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). * ''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, 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).

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 ''learnt'' or ''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" |artefact,
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" |axe || 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" |camomile, 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" |carat || carat, 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" |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" |chequer || checker || As in ''chequerboard''/''checkerboard'', ''chequered''/''checkered flag'' etc. In Canada as in the US. |- valign="top" |chilli || chili,
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" |cipher, cypher|| cipher || |- valign="top" |coulter,
colter || colter || |- valign="top" |cosy || cozy || In all senses (adjective, noun, verb). |- valign="top" |dyke || 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" |doughnut|| doughnut, donut || In the US, both are used, with ''donut'' indicated as a less common variant of ''doughnut''. |- valign="top" |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 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" |gauge || gauge,
gage || Both spellings have existed since Middle English. |- valign="top" |gauntlet || gauntlet, gantlet || When meaning "ordeal", in the phrase ''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 ("armoured glove"), always spelled thus. |- valign="top" |glycerine || glycerin, glycerine || Scientists use the term glycerol, but both spellings are used sporadically in the US. |- valign="top" |grey || 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,
grille || 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" |hearken || hearken,
harken || The word comes from ''hark''. The spelling ''hearken'' was probably influenced by ''hear''. Both spellings are found everywhere. |- valign="top" |idyll || 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" |jail,
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" |kerb || 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" | (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" |liquorice || 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" |midriff || midriff, midrif || |- valign="top" |mollusc || mollusk, mollusc || The related adjective may be spelled ''molluscan'' or ''molluskan''. |- valign="top" |mould || 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" |moult || molt || |- valign="top" |neurone, neuron || neuron || |- valign="top" |omelette || 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" |plough || 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'') 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" |sceptic,
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" | slew, 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" |smoulder || smolder || Both spellings go back to the 16th century, and have existed since Middle English. |- valign="top" |storey, storeys || 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 n its meaning of "narrative"/nowiki> 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" |sulphate,
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 || 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 period. (The true Greek word for sulfur, , is the source of the international chemical prefix ''thio-''.) In 12th-century Anglo-French, 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" |through || through,
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" |tyre || 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" | vice || vise, vice || For the 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" 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), whiskey (Ireland) || 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" |yoghurt,
yogurt,
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 modern Turkish (Latinic) alphabet was traditionally written ''gh'' in Latin script of the 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 o I left you from "I couldn't love you any more han 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'' or ''Unicef / UNICEF''. This does not apply to abbreviations that are pronounced as individual letters (referred to by some as "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'' (Police Constable). 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: liter/litre and its compounds (''2 L'' or ''25 mL'' vs ''2 l'' or ''25 ml''); and 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.''

Punctuation

The use of quotation marks, also called inverted commas or speech marks, is complicated by the fact that there are two kinds: single quotation marks (') and 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 * Canadian English * English language in England * English in the Commonwealth of Nations * English orthography * Hong Kong English * Hiberno-English * Indian English * Malaysian English * Manx English * New Zealand English * Philippine English * Scottish English * Singaporean English * South African English


Notes





References





Citations





Sources


* 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 Spelling differences Category:English orthography Category:Internationalization and localization