Wednesday, January 14, 2015

31 British and American Spelling Differences You Might Not Know About

Anyone with a relatively decent understanding of the spelling differences between Britain and the United States will no doubt be cognizant of the usual suspects: metre vs. meter, colour vs. color etc.

But did you know that spelling variations between the two countries don't simply consist of -re vs -er, -our vs -or, and -ise vs -ize word endings? Unless you're an American or Brit who has spent a good deal of time in the other country, chances are you don't know about all 31 spelling differences listed below. 

In the comments box beneath this article, let us know which words, if any, surprised you.


UK
USA
1
annexe
annex
2
artefact and
artifact
artifact
3
axe
ax and axe
4
carat
carat and karat
5
cheque
check
6
chequer
checker
7
chilli
chili and chile
8
cipher and cypher
cipher
9
cosy
cozy
10
doughnut
doughnut and donut
11
draught beer
draft beer
12
gauge
gage and gauge
13
gauntlet
gauntlet and gantlet
14
glycerine
glycerin and glycerine
15
grey
gray
16
grille
grill and grille
17
hearken
harken
18
kerb
curb
19
liquorice
licorice
20
manoeuvre
maneuver
21
mollusc
mollusk and mollusc
22
mould
mold
23
omelette
omelet and omelette
24
plough
plow
25
primaeval
primeval
26
sceptic and skeptic
skeptic
27
smoulder
smolder
28
storey
story
29
sulphate
sulfate and sulphate
30
sulphur
sulfur and sulphur
31
tyre
tire

Did any of these spelling differences come as a surprise to you? Which of these did you already know? Let us know in the comments box below.

This article was written by Laurence Brown. Laurence is a British expat living in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a contributor for BBC America and has written for Anglotopia. He is Editor-in-chief of Lost in the Pond and loves nothing more than to share these articles with anglophiles, expats, and other interested parties on social media. Follow Lost in the Pond on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

4 comments:

Elizabeth West said...

I've seen almost all of them, except "chilli" just looks wrong (though it tastes great!). And I thought "gage" in US was a misspelling of "gauge."

Speaking of chilli and the UK, I'd never eaten it on rice before, but my auntie made it that way for me. Tasted delicious. :)

Christine said...

Brits may spell doughnut 2 ways, but they don't have them except for US imports. Missing buttermilk old fashioneds!

Annamieuk said...

Brits don't spell doughnut two ways, only the US does. Incidentally, I can remember learning in school that we use both spellings for grey/gray, but one is a noun and used for a person's name - Grey. The other is for the colour gray. Also, you forgot to include Realise v Realize! (among others that are similar).

Chris Gray said...

In an American English, some of these are homophones that take on different meanings based on the spelling. Karat indicates the purity of gold while carat is a unit of weight for jewels. Gantlet is a challenge one goes through to complete a goal, dating from the medieval obstacle of passing through a line (a queue?) and getting hit with sticks. Gauntlet in America is chiefly a glove, as in fencing. Gage and gauge have different meanings, too, although I only ever use gauge.

Love your site! I've caught myself binge-reading your posts.

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