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British Spelling Vs. American Spelling: Linguistically At Odds

British Spelling Vs. American Spelling
Having doubts regarding American vs British spellings and words? Here are the most commonly used words that might be the cause for confusion...
Penlighten Staff
Last Updated: Apr 12, 2018
Pile of Words on white
Did You Know?
With a speaking-population of 500+ million, English, an official first language in 57 countries, is the second-most spoken language in the world, and has its origin from Britain, where settlers from parts of Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark brought along with them certain dialects to this region.
The first known inhabitants of the United States were the Native Americans (Indians). Then the Europeans arrived and colonized the country. The most influential in all aspects were the British, and hence, English was most widely spoken all over. With passing times, even the language changed slightly, and now we have American English. Commonwealth countries follow British English, whereas the rest of the world goes more with American English. Between both types, many words that are actually the same meaning have different spellings, while many things that have the same meanings are termed differently. Oh well! Let's just have a look at some examples, and things will be much clearer.
Same Word, Different Spelling
Here, we will have a look at some differences, or in other words, a comparison between British and American spelling conventions.
BRITISH AMERICAN
ageing aging
aluminium aluminum
amphitheatre amphitheater
analogue analog
analyse analyze
annexe annex
appetiser appetizer
apologise apologize
archaeology archeology
arguement argument
armour armor
arse ass
axe ax
behaviour behavior
behove behoove
bogeyman boogeyman
carburettor carburetor
catalogue catalog
catalyse catalyze
centre center
centimetre centimeter
cheque check
chequer checker
chilli chili
civilise civilize
criticise criticize
colonise colonize
colour color
cosy cozy
counselling counseling
cypher cipher
defence defense
dialogue dialog
doughnut donut
draught draft
dreamt dreamed
emphasise
emphasize
encyclopaedia encyclopedia
enrolment enrollment
equalling equaling
excelling exceling
favourite favorite
fibre fiber
flavour flavor
foetus fetus
fuelled fueled
fulfill fulfil
furore furor
glycerine glycerin
grey gray
gynaecology gynecology
harbour harbor
honour honor
humour humor
instalment installment
jewellery jewelry
judgement judgment
kilometre kilometer
labour labor
leapt leaped
learnt learned
licence license
litre liter
louvre louver
leukaemia leukemia
lustre luster
manoeuvre maneuver
marvellous marvelous
mediaeval medieval
memorise memorize
metre meter
mementoes mementos
modelling modeling
monologue monolog
mould mold
moult molt
moustache mustache
mum mom
neighbour neighbor
neurone neuron
oestrogen estrogen
offence offense
omelette omelet
organise organize
orthopaedic orthopedic
paediatric pediatric
palaeontology paleontology
parallelled paralleled
phoney phony
popularise popularize
practise practice
pretence pretense
prise prize
programme program
pyjamas pajamas
plough plow
quarrelling quarreling
realise realize
recognise recognize
rumour rumor
saviour savior
sceptic skeptic
signalling signaling
skilful skillful
speciality specialty
spectre specter
storey story
sulphur sulfur
theatre theater
titbit tidbit
toxaemia toxemia
travelling traveling
tyre tire
vice vise
woollen woolen
yoghurt yogurt
The British way of spelling words usually involves the 'u' or an 'll', whereas American spellings mostly do away with the 'u' and also has a single 'l'.
Same Meaning, Different Word
Over here, we shall see some words that actually mean the same thing, though completely different terms are used for referring to them in the British and American English language styles.
banger sausage
bloke guy
car boot car trunk
bin trash can
bonnet hood
car park parking lot
biscuit cookie
caravan motor home
chemist pharmacist
chips fries
cinema movie theater
crisps potato chips
dummy pacifier
football soccer
full stop period
flyover overpass
braces suspenders
holiday vacation
jam jelly
jumper sweater
lift elevator
loo bathroom
lorry truck
maize corn
mince chopped beef
motorway highway
nappy diaper
nought nothing
number plate license plate
kerosene paraffin
pavement sidewalk
petrol gas
plaster band-aid
post mail
postal code zip code
college university
queue line
row argument
rubber eraser
serviette napkin
silencer muffler
solicitor lawyer
tin can
torch flashlight
car park parking lot
gearbox transmission
spanner wrench
anti-clockwise counter-clockwise
barrister attorney
crossroads intersection
diversion detour
driving licence driver's license
dustbin garbage/trash can
mad crazy, insane
maths math
motorbike motorcycle
postbox mailbox
postman mailman
pub bar
railway railroad
return ticket round trip
sweets candy
timetable schedule
whisky whiskey
zip zipper
hoarding billboard
puncture blowout
current account checking account
porridge oatmeal
mason stone/brickworker
prawn shrimp
sellotape Scotch tape
tram trolley car
zebra crossing pedestrian crossing
constable officer
coach intercity bus
trousers pants
waistcoat vest
windscreen windshield
pram baby carriage
roundabout traffic circle
polo neck turtleneck
primary preschool
staff employee
head lamp headlight
cardigan sweater
frock dress
knickers panties
couch sofa
cupboard closet
garden yard
loft attic
tap faucet
coriander cilantro
take-away to go
chat show talk show
counterfoil stub
CV resume
fair carnival
gum glue
parcel package
pay packet pay check
post mortem autopsy
property real estate
purse wallet
reception lobby
shop store
share stock
tick check
tube subway
toilet restroom
fill up top up
aerial antenna
headmaster principal
tarmac asphalt
air hostess flight attendant
alsatian German shepherd
bank holiday legal holiday
caretaker janitor
casualty department emergency room
coffin casket
extra time overtime
goods train freight train
insect bug
jug pitcher
label tag
lager beer
luggage baggage
match game
mixer blender
parliament congress
prison jail
jelly jello
stock inventory
quarrel argument
trainers sneakers
curtains drapes
break recess
compere emcee
frying pan skillet
pupil student
plait braid
basin sink
mudguard fender
timber yard lumberyard
valuer appraiser
city centre downtown
adverts commercial break
bookstall newsstand
fringe bangs
British and American spelling differences are very minor, but at the same time are very important to know. Here, we have seen quite a few words, some that are actually the same word with just a slight difference in the spelling, whereas others mean the same thing, but the words used for them are altogether different.
Westminster Abbey
Greenwich Painted Hall London
Carnival Brazil
Nelsons Column
Westminster Abbey In London Uk
Jumex Museum
Clothing Tag
Packed Tram Seaton
Americus Georgia Usa
Red Azalea
Opera Building Solis Theatre
Chester Museum