Spelling

Canadian Spelling Words

The comparison chart below lists words and their spellings according to country. To keep things simple, I’ve chosen only two countries: mine – Canada – and our neighbours south of the border – United States. Though Canadian words were originally influenced by England, our biggest influence now is the United States.

Over time, this list will grow. My need to create it stems from my desire to use Canadian spellings in my own writing. I want to be consistent and accurate in portraying our unique way of spelling, one that I was taught in school and has been handed down from my parents.

To read more about why I created this list, visit the blog post Which language do you write?

This page on the web is my reference, but I hope others find it helpful, too.

Word spellings in the English language have changed many times since humans began to write and it continues to change. In reality, there is no one spelling that is more right than others; one is simple more imbedded in a culture than the other in a given time frame. My list strives to capture the spelling language in which I was taught and had come to know as Canadian spelling.

For a visual of certain British and American word comparisons, check out this page.

Last updated January 22, 2016

Canada

United   States

aluminium aluminum
amongst among
archaeology archeology
armour armor
axe ax
behaviour behavior
burnt burned
bussing, bussed busing, bused
cancelled canceled
catalogue catalog
cheque check
cigarette cigarette
civilise civilize
clamour clamor
colour color
cosy cozy
counsellor counselor
crenellated crenelated
crenellation crenelation
dependant dependent
defence defense
dialling dialing
dialogue dialog
doughnut donut
draught (current of   air) draft
dreamt dreamed
enquiry inquiry
favour favor
favourite favorite
fibre fiber
flavour flavor
focussing, focussed focusing, focused
grey gray
harbour harbor
honour honor
honourary honorary
humour

independant* or independent

humor

independent

jewellery

judgement

jewelry

judgment

kilometre kilometer
labelling, labelled labeling, labeled
labour labor
learnt learned
leapt leaped
licence (noun) license
license (verb) license
litre liter
lustre luster
manoeuvre maneuver
marvellous marvelous
meagre meager
mediaeval medieval
mesmerize mezmorize
metre meter
mould mold
moulded molded
moustache mustache
neighbour neighbor
odour odor
offence offense
panelled paneled
pedlar

phoney

peddler

phony

pleaded pled
plough plow
practise (verb) practice
practice (noun) practice
pyjamas pajamas
realise realize
recognise recognize
rumour rumor
sceptical skeptical
skilful skillful
smelt smelled
snowplough snowplow
spelt spelled
spilt spilled
spoilt spoiled
storey story
sulphur sulfur
theatre theater
towards toward
traveller traveler
travelling traveling
tumour tumor
valour valor
vapour vapor
vigour vigor
woollen woolen
yoghurt yogurt

*Independant: “Whether it was from this circumstance, of its being easily taken, or from a wish of being independant, or from an excess of sensibility (for which we were always remarkable) I cannot now determine, but certain it is that when we had reached our 15th year, we took the nine Hundred Pounds and ran away.” Love and Friendship by Jane Austen

Linguistic Discussion

An interesting article on the history of ‘our’ and ‘or’ along with ‘re’ and ‘er’ is found on Quartz.

. . . more as time permits.

6 thoughts on “Spelling

  1. This is my second time to this page. One thing I’ve noticed as a pattern is the words ending in “or” for the American version, all end with “our” in the Canadian version, or am I wrong on this? (Yes, by the double quotes, I’m sure you’ve guessed I’m American.)

    • Yes, many words that contain ‘our’ are also spelt ‘or’: colour/color, honour/honor, neighbour/neighbour. Another difference is the ‘s’ for ‘z’. When I pronounce words such as ‘realise’, I speak it with an ‘s’ sound, not a ‘z’ sound. Words ending with ‘ed’ are another group. For the life of me, I can’t say ‘spelled’. It’s too awkward. I grew up saying ‘spelt’.

      I could easily join the wave of Canadians switching to the new spelling and toss my heritage out the window, but I don’t want to. I love the look of ‘harbour’. ‘Harbor’ looks to blunt.

      Do I fear readers from other countries will think I don’t know how to spell? Sometimes, but I always put a note at the start of my books: Written using Canadian spelling.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. That’s a great list. The Canadian/English spelling just seem more accurate in how the words should be spoken in the majority of cases and even though it sounds stupid, look more beautiful on the page too. When I was hiring people at work, if they couldn’t get the spelling right then it was an easy way for me to decide they weren’t for me.

    • Thanks, Stephen. I agree that Canadian/English spelling better represents the way words actually sound. I also agree that colour is ‘prettier’ than color. Color looks bland. The flow of letters do add to the beauty of the page. Although spelling doesn’t truly represent a person’s intelligence, it’s often difficult to see someone as smart if they can’t write properly.

  3. excellent post and quite useful list: UK spelling and North American spelling… thanx! 🙂
    Sunny greetings from Toulouse, France, “old Europe”, my very best and good luck in all your endeavo(u)rs… 🙂 Mélanie NB

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