Spellings Across the Pond: UK vs. US English

by Captain Walker

Categories: Humanities, Technology

Of some annoyance to me is the different spellings of the same words between the UK and the USA. I’m in the UK and culturally I prefer UK spellings. But it is not that simple. Microsoft Word that is ‘made’ in the USA seems to ‘think’ that it is fine if I spell prioritize as such (instead of prioritise) even when I’ve ensured that I select ‘UK language’ for MS Word to work with. The same issue happens with Microsoft Edge that has a UK language selected. It is blind to many differences. This means that America wants to rule me. I’m not having that!

So with the assistance of AI extracted the key issues, and below is a table of how words are spelt differently.

The differences in spelling between UK English and US English can generally be categorised into several patterns:

  1. Extra ‘L’ in UK English: Words such as “counsellor,” “fulfil,” and “instil” in UK English have an extra ‘l’ compared to their counterparts in US English, which are spelled as “counselor,” “fulfill,” and “instill” respectively.
  2. Suffix Variation: Some words have differences in suffix usage, such as “ise” in UK English versus “ize” in US English, as seen in “analyse” versus “analyze” or “organise” versus “organise.”
  3. Vowel Alterations: Certain words have differences in vowel usage, such as “colour” in UK English versus “color” in US English, or “neighbour” versus “neighbor.”
  4. Dropping ‘U’ in US English: Words like “favour,” “flavour,” and “honour” in UK English include a ‘u’ that is typically dropped in US English, resulting in “favor,” “flavor,” and “honour” respectively.
  5. Double ‘L’ in US English: Conversely, some words in US English have a double ‘l’ where UK English uses a single ‘l,’ as seen in “jewellery” versus “jewelry” or “woollen” versus “woolen.”
  6. Other Variations: There are also instances of differences in consonant usage, such as “metre” versus “meter,” “centre” versus “centre,” or “litre” versus “liter.”

Table of differently spelled words

Just in case, this is not a collection of all words in the English language that are spelt differently.

UKUSA
AluminiumAluminum
AnalyseAnalyze
CentreCenter
ColourColor
CounsellorCounselor
DefenceDefense
FavourFavor
FlavourFlavor
FulfilFulfill
GreyGray
HarbourHarbor
HonourHonor
InstilInstill
JewelleryJewelry
KilometreKilometer
LabourLabor
LicenceLicense
LitreLiter
ManoeuvreManeuver
MetreMeter
ModellingModeling
NeighbourNeighbor
OdourOdor
OrganisationOrganisation
ParalyseParalyze
PloughPlow
ProgrammeProgram
PyjamasPajamas
RecogniseRecognise
ScepticSkeptic
SpecialiseSpecialise
TheatreTheater
TonnesTons
TravellerTraveler
ValourValor
VapourVapor
VigourVigor
WhiskyWhiskey
WilfulWillful
WoollenWoolen
WorshipperWorshiper
YoghurtYogurt
ZedZee
NeighbourNeighbor
OdourOdor
OrganisationOrganisation
ParalyseParalyze
PloughPlow
ProgrammeProgram
PyjamasPajamas
RecogniseRecognise
ScepticSkeptic
SpecialiseSpecialise

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