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Have You Ever Wondered Why The Americans And The British Spell English Words Differently? Here’s the Answer!


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Did you know that Noah Webster (of Merriam-Webster) is the person responsible for this endless confusion? For as long as I remember, the difference in the British and American spellings has baffled me. I mean why can’t you agree on one color rather than having another colour? Or what’s the centre and center debate? Just choose one and move on, right? Apparently not!

When America was liberated from the colonial rule, Webster decided to re-spell the words and drop the unnecessarily complicated spellings, a British legacy.





When he first started to modify the spellings, Webster pushed it a bit too far. He removed all the silent letters such that ‘determine’ became ‘determin’, ‘leopard’ was changed to ‘leperd’, and ‘soup’ was re-spelled as ‘soop.’

Although most of these new spellings were just too hard to digest, some of the changes made by Webster did catch on; like ‘U’ was dropped from ‘colour’ and ‘honour’ while ‘R’ was put after ‘E’ in ‘centre.’

Watch Arika Okrent explain the historical events that led to changes in the British and American spellings in this video:



While the Americans introduced new spellings, the British scorned them and adhered to their band of English more religiously, apart from removing the ‘K’ from ‘magic’ and other such words. So, they retained their spellings as the Americans changed theirs.

And hence all this confusion!


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