Talk:American and British English spelling differences

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American Slang[edit]

There are spelling listed as American variants that are not words. Non-words like 'thru' and 'donut' are commercial mispelling for copyright purposes, emphatically not correctly spelled American variants in their own right. This article is rife with original research about such words that, quite frankly, should be put into a very different article. Also, is it worth including differences in cases when two forms are acceptible in Britain and the same two forms are acceptible in the United States? Some of these are useful and interesting whereas as many others are just plain wrong. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:15, 23 May 2014 (UTC)

Whoa there hero. Thru is not slang nor is it a non-word. Thru has been an accepted variant in the US for over 100 years. In both the Army and Sheriff's Academy, we were told to spell it thru … I'v written many papers as an undergrad and graduate with it.
  • From Handbook of Microwave Component Measurements, p141: The thru standard should most properly be called a “defined thru” standard, and represents a two-port standard for which all the S-parameters are known. There are two main forms of defined thru standards, sometimes called flush thru and defined thru. … If a non-zero-length thru is used during callibration, the effective measured load match will be phase-shifted by the actual delay of the thru, and this can cause substantial error.

As for donut, that began life in England. It's in Wright's Dict. of Obs. and Prov. English, 1880 as donnut: A dough pancake.

AnWulf ... Wes þu hal! (talk) 14:52, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

[[1]] It would help your argument if respected American Dictionaries agreed with you - in Websters at least online does not mention 'Thru' as a variant.Andrewgprout (talk) 19:08, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
Try again:
2600:1006:B11F:9E14:B945:D20A:9451:85D (talk) 20:14, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
It is fairly common for dictionaries to include variant spellings that are "usually considered inferior". Thru is a short spelling that is accepted to some extent in informal discourse, or in special situations such as street signage, where it is more important to have big letters everyone can see than it is to use acrolectal spelling. But it is not a spelling accepted in formal writing. Donut, on the other hand, is a genuine variant spelling. --Trovatore (talk) 20:44, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes thanks for your examples - but they don't really support anything other than an informal use of 'thru' even in the USA. The Webster link is simply a see reference, is in my opinion of questionable quality and Oxford clearly says 'informal'. Donut on the other hand as Trovatore says is a genuine variant - see how the dictionaries treat the two examples differently. Andrewgprout (talk) 22:14, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
I would add further that the microwave-measurement stuff looks like a slightly different situation — not informal or inferior, but rather specialized jargon. Through is not a noun, and actual delay of the through doesn't make sense in ordinary English (and probably not in the English of microwave engineers either; that's why they have the alternative spelling). There is no objection to microwave engineers inventing whatever jargon they like, but it shouldn't be presented as a general "American" spelling. --Trovatore (talk) 23:41, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
Variants are inferior? So which is inferior … Color or colour? Airplane or aeroplane? Aluminum or aluminium? Variant does not automatically mean inferior or of som imagin'd lower status. I think M-W is mostly thought of as an American dictionary and is well respected in the US. It would only be a guess on my part but I think in the US that M-W outsells the OED. It is the dictionary often found from students to corporate offices. M-W only tags it as a variant … not informal, slang, or in any way inferior. Since we are talking about American and British SPELLING differences, that should be enuff to show that it isn't slang or "not a word".
*Religious Liberty and Human Dignity, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, vol. 27, 1, pp81-92, 2003:
… to respect human rights, then failing to explicitly define thru common understanding.
Is the Harvard Journal of Law formal enuff for ya? There are lots more where that came from. Also, in the US you will find breakthru, click-thru, drive-thru, see-thru, thru-hike, thruout, thruway and likely a few more. As long as we're on the thred … altho, tho, thoro, and thorofare as well. All of these are found in the US and in publications (not slang) and should be on the list as well. AnWulf ... Wes þu hal! (talk) 10:25, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
It's certainly not safe enough to suggest that 'thru' is the common an alternative to "through". Its use in microwave and other transmission standards, e.g. "short, open, load and thru", is a technical term used in a very specific application, and is not enough to prove an example of common usage.
Certainly 'thru' might often be seen in the description of a sequence that uses only the end limits of that sequence (e.g. 'Monday thru Friday', '8am thru 6pm", 'March thru July' etc) but it's not the only spelling used
(e.g. "Wind chill advisory. Days two through seven...Tuesday through Sunday."(,
"Work around your customers' schedule and choose the best day from Tuesday through Saturday." (, and
"Apples, August through October. Apricots, mid-August through mid-September." (
Additionally, when describing a transition or movement it seems to me that 'through' is more common, e.g.
"Microwave signals travel through the air about 50% faster than light through optical fiber". (,
"We invite you to take a virtual trip through the history of this... " (, and
"Walk-through: an activity in which someone walks through an area, building, etc., in order to inspect it" (
All those examples are taken from US sources and go a long way to suggest that, aside from its colloquial use, "thru" is only a sometimes-used alternative spelling of 'through'. Twistlethrop (talk) 12:31, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

Quire is just archaic for choir.[edit]

Isn't this just a difference between archaic and modern spelling. Is there really a pondian difference? Dbfirs 22:12, 11 January 2015 (UTC)

I believe that there is no difference of a pondian nature; I've never seen it used in either Britain or the USA as a name for the collection of people who sing together.
As far as I can be sure, apart from the name for a certain number of sheets of paper, quire is only used in Anglican churches (and cathedrals, etc) as the name of that place in the chancel where the choir sits or stands. If the choir is in the nave, the place is called the choir. Confusing, perhaps. (If the quire's got the choir, the choir's got no choir. But if the choir's got the choir, the quire's got no choir). Twistlethrop (talk) 08:56, 13 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for confirming what I thought. I don't think Webster's 1828 opinion has much modern impact (some of his reforms were adopted and some have been almost totally forgotten). I've removed the entry, but retained it below just in case anyone else has a contrary opinion. Dbfirs 09:56, 13 February 2015 (UTC)
|- valign="top"
|choir [citation needed]|| choir,
quire || Quire (meaning "band of singers"), the earlier spelling,[1] was given as an alternative spelling by Webster (1828, 1844 and 1913) and Century Dictionary.[2] Choir emerged in the 17th century and is influenced by the Latin spelling.[3] Quire is also used in the UK to refer to the area in a cathedral occupied by the choir.[4] Independently quire is a unit of paper quantity.
  1. ^ Quire. Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. ^ The Century Dictionary Online
  3. ^ Choir. Online Etymology Dictionary.
  4. ^ For example, York Minster's Quire - (a virtual tour of the Quire of York Minster on the Britain Express website) and the Quire at Bristol Cathedral - (on the Bristol Cathedral website).


Google ngrams indicates that hearken is the more common spelling in American English, as in British English. Is it true that some modern American dictionaries prefer the shorter spelling? If so, are they ignored in practice? Dbfirs 10:23, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

Consistent use of em dash, unspaced, or en spaced dash[edit]

Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Dashes gives "Use either unspaced em dashes or spaced en dashes consistently in an article." This article is, in this respect, a bit of a dog's dinner, in that there are spaced hyphens, spaced en dashes, and unspaced em dashes. However, there are, still, more spaced en dashes and hyphens than unspaced em dashes. So I propose to change them all to spaced en dashes - probably later today.Graham.Fountain | Talk 10:17, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Dropping e[edit]

The British spellings follow the grammatical rule that G can only be soft when preceding an E, I, or Y. Grammar is about how words are used, not how they're spelt or pronounced. The word grammatical should be changed to spelling or pronunciation but I don't know which. Danielklein (talk) 10:11, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Agreed. I've modified the sentence slightly, avoiding the adjective describing "rule". Dbfirs 14:13, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Pharmaceuticals and medical spellings[edit]

I believe a section could be written about pharmaceuticals, the names of which tend to be significant. That would also get into patent and trademark issues, but it would be good information. I'm going to go hoover my car boot now and see if I dropped any acetaminophen. I like to saw logs! (talk) 05:43, 15 April 2015 (UTC)