British and American English – spelling

British -our vs. American-or difference
armour armor
behaviour behavior
colour color
favourite favorite
flavour flavor
harbour harbor
honour honor
humour humor
labour labor
neighbour neighbor
rumour rumor
saviour savior
British -re vs. American -er
amphitheatre amphitheater
centimetre centimeter
centre center
fibre fiber
kilometre kilometer
litre liter
lustre luster
louvre louver
manoeuvre maneuver
metre meter
spectre specter
theatre theater
British -ae/-oe/-oeu vs. American
-e/-o/-eu difference
archaeology archeology
gynaecology gynecology
leukaemia leukemia
manoeuvre maneuver
mediaeval medieval
mementoes mementos
oestrogen estrogen
orthopaedic orthopedic
paediatric pediatric
palaeontology paleontology
toxaemia toxemia
British -se vs. American -zedifference*
analyse analyze
apologise apologize
appetiser appetizer
catalyse catalyze
civilise, civilisation civilize, civilization
colonise, colonisation colonize, colonization
criticise criticize
emphasise emphasize
organise organize
popularise, popularisation popularize, popularization
prise prize
realise realize
recognise recognize
British -l vs. American -ll difference
enrolment enrollment
fulfil fulfill
instalment installment
skilful skillful
British -ll vs. American -l difference
counsellor counselor
fuelled fueled
travelling traveling
parallelled paralleled
quarrelling quarreling

!Remember: In British English, verbs that end in -lpreceded by a vowel usually double the final -l when a suffix -ed/-ing is added. In American English the final -lis doubled only when the last syllable is stressed.

British -ogue vs. American
-og difference
analogue analog
catalogue catalog
dialogue dialog
monologue monolog
British –ence vs. American
-ense difference
defence* defense
license (both
noun and verb
offence* offense
pretence pretense

*But note: defensiveoffensive

*Additional notes::: British English uses both “-ise” and “-ize” forms but tends to prefer -ise (-isation) form.

:: Verbs in British English that can be spelled with either “-ize” or “-ise” at the end are always spelled with -ize in American English.

:: Verbs in British English that end in “-yse” (e.g. analyse) are always spelled “-yze” in American English (analyze).

British -dge/-gue vs. American -dg/-gu)
judgement judgment
arguement argument
British -que vs. American
-k/–ck difference
banque bank
cheque (money) check
British -gramme vs. American -gram difference
programme (noun)
(TV/radio programme or programme of events – plans, conferences, a theatre programme etc.)
programme (verb) (to instruct) program (-mm-)
program (programme)
(computer program)
gram (gramme) gram
kilogram (kilogramme) kilogram
Miscellaneous spelling differences
British American British American
ageing aging mould mold
aluminium aluminum mum, mummy (mom, mam) mom, mommy
encyclopaedia encyclopedia omelette omelet
kerb (edge of roadway or pavement)
curb (verb means “restrain”)
curb (both
noun and verb
practise (verb), practising, practice (noun) practice (both
noun and verb
draught (current of air) draft pyjamas pajamas
grey gray plough plow
sulphur or sulfur sulfur tyre tire
jewellery jewelery sceptic skeptic
marvellous marvelous woollen woolen

It is useful to learn both British and American English forms, but a good recommendation is to aim for consistency in your spelling.

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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