British Spelling

Differences between British and U.S. Spellings

The Internet has made it possible for students in Sydney, Australia, to be taught by a teacher in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. No problem, right? After all, they both speak English. Well, sometimes spelling differences can become an issue. There are many words that are spelled differently in Canada, England, Australia, and other countries that teach “British” English than they are in the United States.

Colour or Color?

When learning to spell, the differences between British. and U.S. English come to the forefront. The following sentence is incorrect in Kansas but correct in Toronto, London, Hong Kong, or Melbourne:

My little sister loves to colour.

British – U.S. Spelling Lists

To accommodate these spelling differences, VocabularySpellingCity had added several lists of British spelling words and their corresponding U.S. spelling words.

These lists can assist teachers and parents who would like to show their students the differences in spelling.

What are the Differences?

Why are there differences? There are many theories from both sides of the Atlantic, but most ascribe the variant spelling to cultural development and different historical experiences. Here are some of these differences:

  • In British English, words that end in -re often end in -er in U.S. English (e.g., theatre; theater).
  • In British English, words that end in -our usually end in -or in U.S. English (e.g., favour; favor).
  • In British English, some nouns that end with -ogue end with -og in U.S. English (e.g., dialogue; dialog).
  • In British English, some nouns that end with -ence are spelled with -ense in U.S. English (e.g., defence; defense).
  • In British English, verbs that can end with either -ize or -ise, always end with -ize in U.S. English (e.g., magnetise; magnetize).

View Words at a GlanceClose

List 1: aluminium, analyse, apologised, authorise, calibre, candour, categorise, centre, characterisation, characterise

List 2: cheque, colour, computerised, cosy, crystallise, defence, diarrhoea, dramatise, encyclopaedia, epitomise

List 3: equalise, favour, favourite, fertilise, fervour, fibre, flavour, furore, glamourize, globalisation

List 4: grey, harbour, harmonise, honour, humour, jeopardise, jewellery, judgement, licence, litres

List 5: magnetise, manoeuvre, marvellous, materialise, maths, metre, mould, moult, organise, oxidise

List 6: parlour, plough, practise, practised, practising, programme, realise, realised, realising, recognise

List 7: reorganise, rumour, socialise, socialised, socialising, standardise, theatre, theorise, unfavourable, urbanisation, valour, vapour, waggon

Want More British Spelling?

Members are free to add their own words as well. If a word is added that is not part of our database, you will be prompted to add the word, along with a sentence and definition. Any new words added will be spoken in a synthetic (computer-generated) voice.

British Spelling – Would you like to help us?

If you have any suggestions or would like to provide information regarding the differences between British and American English, please send us an email. We welcome your feedback.