Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Spelling

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I don't understand...the word "dialogue" in the comparison chart is exactly the same in each column...why is it being compared? Calgary (talk) 05:29, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

Fixed. Someone had made the alternate spelling invisible. --Old Moonraker (talk) 05:42, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

"Chambers also indicates dialog is less used in North America." With all due respect, Chambers is very much out of date on this point (and I doubt it was particularly true at the time). - Jason A. Quest (talk) 00:11, 17 March 2010 (UTC)


I know that, on the Chinese Wikipedia, they have a tab that allows you to alternate between Simplified and Traditional Chinese, while keeping local vocabulary in mind. In the edit field, they have templates where, if an instance of word X appears, it will change to word Y when a local variety of Chinese is used. For example, both Hong Kong and Taiwan use Traditional Chinese, but they have different words for "bus". I don't see why we can't do something similar on here, letting people choose between UK and US English and all. Pandacomics (talk) 14:41, 28 September 2008 (UTC)

Chinese has very flexible grammar, unlike English. Just switching spellings won't do much for the reader---any kind of "translation" has to be able to take care of idiom and metaphors. And anyway, the varieties of English are all mutually intelligible. (talk) 12:49, 14 November 2008 (UTC)


Can someone move Canada to the second-right position? It would all be easier to read, then. Tony (talk) 00:24, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

Aus/NZ English[edit]

Australian and New Zealand English have almost exactly the same words in the word comparison table. Should we combine them? This, that and the other [talk] 23:33, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

"ise" versus "ize"[edit]

Hello. I'm a bit confused by the rewording.

used by the UK government: the Cabinet Office specifies the Concise Oxford Dictionary in its style guide for online publications which, while allowing either ize or ise, notes that "ise in common use, especially in British English, and is obligatory in certain cases".

I agree that the (former) Cabinet Office website recommends the Concise Oxford Dictionary be used. But is the quotation ("ise is in common use...") from the dictionary, or from the website? I cannot find it on the website, and my Concise OED (11th ed) does not have the bit about "obligatory in certain cases". In fact, the "ize" spellings always come first in the dictionary. (talk) 16:23, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

Sorry—now tightened it up. --Old Moonraker (talk) 18:27, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. But I still have two problems: (a) the website linked to has a tag at the top saying that it is a "historical archive"; (b) there is still no evidence that the government soley uses "ise". All we know is that one part of the government recommended using the Oxford dictionary; this dictionary principally recommends "ize" but recognizes that "ise" is often used.
By contrast, and more importantly, here is some evidence that the government sometimes uses "ize", as a quick google search revealed. For example, "recognize": [1]; [2]. For organization: [3]; [4]. The "ize" spelling is also used in British law [5]. My impression is that the UK government does not have a position on the "right" spelling. I propose to remove the statements that "the UK Government uses "ise"", until some evidence is provided. (talk) 11:41, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Risking a certain amount of WP:NOR here as a one-time fluent user of mandarin speak when it suited, as far as I can remember (and my personal knowledge has no place here of course) there is indeed no official preference of one over the other: The pedantic would use "-ize" (and, for that matter, "-exion" in "connexion"), those of a more demotic persuasion "-ise". For today's accessible and open government, the demotic is definitely preferred. However, there was a "fact" request in the article text, and I was able to cite the Cabinet Office (the lead department in these matters) in a somewhat roundabout way. As there isn't an official, government-wide pronouncement to be quoted the example I used was necessarily a bit narrow.
To sum up: the statement (which, by the way, isn't claiming that HMG solely uses "ise") seems to reflect a de facto position, rather than a stated policy, and as such is difficult to verify. The statement regarding the Cabinet Office is true and cited, as far as it goes, and removing true, cited and relevant information isn't always a good thing. --Old Moonraker (talk) 12:51, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, Old Moonraker. But I still don't understand. We should not have a sentence suggesting "the UK government prefers "ise"", if they don't have an explicit stand on it. As you note, it is a sentence that can't be verified, however likely it is. Perhaps "ise" is more demotic, and if so, people can deduce for themselves that the government will use that one. Also: the page you've cited is not cabinet office, but an archive from the Office of the e-Envoy, which was abandoned in 2004.
(We're discussing this here, but the same claims appear on American and British English spelling differences and Oxford spelling too, which makes it worth clearing up.) (talk) 13:19, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
In the context of this article, just the local style guide specifying what but not necessarily why, it's no big deal and could I suppose be removed (?u-turn): my attempt at a citation is far from definitive. It is, however, worth clearing up for the other two pieces, but I can't think of anything better right now. --Old Moonraker (talk) 13:40, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
User:Jonnyboy5 has changed American and British English spelling differences from "is" to "tends to be". Seems a good solution.--Old Moonraker (talk) 12:50, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Thanks! I've posted a comment there; I think it is appropriate to remove the "government" stuff from that page because it is not verifiable. As for this page, it's not an encyclopedia entry, so doesn't have to be 100% verifiable, right? so I've tried to clarify our findings about the government here. logged in now: Sam (talk) 20:52, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Ballocks to thee and thine! If the word is derived from the Greek, use -ize - but from the Latin, use '-ise. Example: from the Greek: realize; from Latin excise! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:48, 31 December 2008 (UTC)
Actually, it's not that simple. The spelling excise is the only possible spelling; *excize is not used anywhere in the Anglosphere. On the other hand, the ize in realize does ultimately come from Greek -izein, yet the word realize/realise entered English through French (réaliser); hence, some scholars think that it should be spelled realise to reflect this fact; others, including the OED, regard the French derivation as irrelevant. I'm Jack(Lumber) and I approve this message. 01:15, 1 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Why is it necessary to give preference to just one of these? Many Brits, including me, naturally use -ize in nearly all cases where either -ise or -ize are permitted. I really don't see why I should change my spelling for Wikipedia, especially as so many authoritative sources use -ize. Can't both be accepted?--Ipigott (talk) 21:10, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

but:: analyse question[edit]

British English with Oxford Spelling (-ize)

Spellings: centre, programme, labour, defence, organization, recognize, but: analyse

Why does it read "but:" before the analyse? Dream Focus (talk) 15:56, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

As is made plain above, we're discussing -ize and -ise - but note the "i" - not a "y". This is the underlying reason for separating off analyse - as the OED does! (talk) 13:39, 5 January 2009 (UTC)


story – storey: a story is a tale; outside of North America, upper floors of buildings are spelt "storey".[3]

In Canada, you will find "storey" referring to the floors of a building. (talk) 01:20, 7 December 2008 (UTC)


In Br Eng this seems to be a case of different spellings for different meanings: "routing" is the verbal noun meaning "partying" or "snoring", whereas "routeing" is the verbal noun for allocating to a route, etc. This is a very hasty paraphrase from the OED, so to make things plainer finishing off with their direct quote: "Delineation of routes, etc...Routeing is the better form to distinguish it from ROUTING vbl. n. and ppl". --Old Moonraker (talk) 10:24, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

That's what the OED used to say... but contemporary dictionaries (including Chambers, which is the source for the Spelling guide) list both routeing and routing (usually in that order); the currency of routing in the UK is also supported by British National Corpus data, as analyzed by Peters, cited in our mighty spelling differences article under "Dropped e." After all, the OED argument for the irregular form routeing is pretty weak--context usually makes the meaning clear. I'm Jack(Lumber) and I approve this message. 01:11, 20 December 2008 (UTC)

The US Government uses the American standards[edit]

Seriously, do you really need a citation for that? Have you EVER read any modern (read: from 1920 to the present) document from the US Government using the words "labour," "defence," or "programme"? I do not think they call it American English for nothing. Maybe, perhaps, slightly likely, the American Government uses it. I will remove the "citation needed" mark. It is preposterous and almost arrogant, if you ask me.

I actually cannot ask you, since you didn't sign (or date) your entry. David Spector (talk) 16:46, 21 March 2013 (UTC)


The element alumin(i)um was named by Sir Humphry Davy (an Englishman) in 1809 when he prepared an iron-aluminum alloy. Hans Christian Ørsted first isolated raw aluminum metal it in 1825. Davy named the element he first identified "aluminum" but the British, including its Commonwealth and other European countries changed and use "aluminium" to maintain consistency with other elements eg. americium, barium, strontium, cerium, niobium, nobelium, etc.

What a fuss Humphry Davy made by leaving out an "i"?

--Euc (talk) 00:20, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

That would be the abridged version. It's a little more complicated than that... I'm Jack(Lumber) and I approve this message. 00:32, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
I thought I would keep such discussions short on a discussion page and give an abridged version.Euc (talk) 00:38, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Both are current in Canada. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:10, 23 April 2009 (UTC)


I know that the Canadian Oxford dictionary prefers "yogourt" over other variants, but clearly it does not prevail. See the entry on yoghurt in

Using a quick google search including the term "Canada" and one of "yoghurt", "yoghourt", "yogurt", and "yogourt", while excluding the other 3 in each search, (e.g. search for: "canada yoghurt -yoghourt -yogurt -yogourt") garnered the following results:

Canada + yogurt - 721 000 results
Canada + yoghurt - 228 000 results
Canada + yogourt - 23 800 results
Canada + yoghourt - 10 600 results

Although not completely scientific, the huge difference between these numbers cannot be ignored. In fact, since the "yogourt" spelling is also used in French, it is probably even less relevant in Canadian English than indicated by the numbers. The agenda of the now defunct Canadian Oxford should not trump all. (talk) 03:47, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

I know. As a matter of fact, I wrote the entry on yogurt myself, almost three years ago. However, this page is *not* supposed to analyze spelling tendencies in English-speaking countries--American and British English differences serves that purpose. This page is only supposed to give an overview of the different spelling systems based on "major dictionaries" and "government guidelines"; this means that we have to stick to the references provided--that is, major dictionaries (and, when applicable, government guidelines). (Truth be told, I personally believe that this page is completely pointless.) Anyway, in this context, your argument qualifies as "unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position," which is original research. I'm Jack(Lumber) and I approve this message. 23:17, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

Spelling in General[edit]

If Wikipedia was founded by an American, then why must we bicker about spelling issues? I therefore propose that all words are to be in American English. If this can't be done, then why don't we just make separate Wikipedias for each of the variations of English. If Wikipedia can support many other languages, then this seems like it would be a fair thing to do. Furthermore, if the rest of the editors wish to keep some articles as mirrors, then some bots must be created to copy and then "translate" the offending words automatically. (Because the preceding is quite radical, I wish to sign my post as anonymous.)

You're looking for Wikipedia:Perennial_proposals#Enforce_American_or_British_spelling. —Blotwell 19:15, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
This is the suitable place to discuss this. Honestly, I think that the current standard of "using whatever is common in the article already" is just a means of being politically correct/"globally conscious." I think it only serves to make problems, because there are arguments over what spelling style, especially as an article is first evolving.
My proposal is simple. Other than names and things clearly tied to a specific dialect, we should use the dialect that is most common among native English speakers. The Simple English Wikipedia is for non-native speakers and this is for native speakers. Thus, it makes sense to use what is most common internationally among native English speakers. AFAIK, this is Standard American English. Is it so wrong to cater to the majority? By trying to create this odd, arbitrary mix, you only create issues. -Nathan J. Yoder (talk) 15:31, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
A separate Wikipedia for British English and other variants was already proposed and rejected. See: meta:Requests for new languages/Wikipedia British English. -- œ 21:01, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

I am quite content to live with the differences. I propose some sort of internal note (or maybe subtle external template) that would indicate which spelling is accepted. I contribute to articles with various spellings and don't mind when someone corrects my spelling BUT would like to make sure which predominates first. I just noticed an editor "correcting" the spelling in an article to American. This was most likely done unconsciously, not realizing the rules. I was about to revert it, but couldn't find any markers that would suggest that it was supposed to be UK to start with. So maybe changed by UK editor earlier! Editors need to be able to "claim" an article for spelling and be reassured they won't encounter spelling wars later, and won't have to become spelling historians to see who really owns the article. BTW, this would only apply to new articles without discussion, otherwise, we will have wars!  :)

And, wishing for the moon, wouldn't it be nice if my Mozilla would recognize this template and give me spelling corrections/redlines for that variant!  :) Student7 (talk) 14:56, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

See Template:Varieties of English templates. Also WP:ENGVAR is relevant.
As for your wish for the moon, you could try posting a request at Wikipedia:WikiProject User scripts/Requests or Wikipedia:Bot requests. -- œ 21:54, 3 October 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for all the information. I have made the requests. We will see.
Thanks also for mentioning the templates which could be used today for national articles. This would be a good reminder to everyone, if used.Student7 (talk) 21:00, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

um, I have often wondered WHY google isnt used to determine COMMON usage. this would be the spelling which the greater number of people would then be exposed to. In general, there is one spelling which is MUCH greater than the other. this would, by definition, serve the greater number of web users.

Well web usage does not indicate either correct spelling (regardless of the locality) or greater usage - just greater usage on the web - an example would be the amount of times you can find "loose" used in place of "lose". Crimperman (talk)
A bit late in the day, perhaps, but would it not be easier to prohibit edits that only change spellings from one variant to another? I know some people consider it's good practice to "harmonise" the spellings in articles, but the original version is often difficult to ascertain in those without any specific national ties and the "first major edit" guideline only seems to increase that feeling of ambiguity.
Personally, I'm not convinced about the need to "harmonise" spellings since all it seems to achieve is to antagonise editors and introduce errors, whether formattingπ errors (such as one I've just reverted after another user insisted the article was written in U.S. English--which in lieu of any evidence seems moot anyway) or the miscorrection of proper nouns such as the UK's "Labor party" or Australia's "Labour party" for instance.
The title of the "Perennial Proposals" article seems a little pejorative for what is a very long term and ongoing problem; whether or not my own suggestions make any sense, it's something that needs fixing as the current guidelines aren't really fit for purpose. —Vom (talk) 04:22, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
Just for clarification, you are suggesting that different spellings of the same word in the same article be retained? This seems to be discouraged in WP:MOS#Internal consistency. --Old Moonraker (talk) 07:41, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
In part, yes. I think that part of the MOS, though desirable in itself, is in practice actually rather unhelpful and counter-productive. In my view it seems to be one of those things where the cost outweighs the benefit considering the protracted ill-feeling caused by spellings being altered, rightly or wrongly. —Vom (talk) 08:09, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
OK, thanks. I just wanted to be sure, before I recorded a strong disagreement. To the average WP user, not a regular editor, this would look careless and sloppy and invite many more drive-by "corrections" then we get at present. --Old Moonraker (talk) 08:21, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
Personally I think I'd risk it, but I see your point. I am left feeling that there must be a better way of dealing with this gnarly old problem, though. I just can't quite think of what: even if it were possible for the software to automatically select spellings based on one's locale, for example, then you'll still likely get disagreement over what the default should be. Hopefully more imaginative minds will think of something, since the current methodology is rather less than ideal... —Vom (talk) 14:21, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
IMO spellings within an article should agree. Anything else looks sloppy. This is reminiscent of TE Lawrence reply to his editor who pointed out the changed transliteration/spellings of names from one page to another. And Lawrence, who had had to live with "floating" pronunciations for several years, replied "Yes! YES!" Funny only when you are not an editor! Needs consistency. If omitted now, that should be stated in the policy. There is often a "preferred" spelling. This should be used. Student7 (talk) 12:08, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
My point in raising this (or at least bringing it up again) was to consider what was desirable versus what's actually workable in practice; though I agree that consistent spellings look more professional than inconsistent ones, the experience of attempting to enforce this is frequent discord amongst editors and often an excessive amount of effort in attempting to ascertain the "correct" spelling for any given article. Is it a price worth paying? Some think so, I think not. It would be better if there were a way to satisfy both sides of the equation, but short of a software rewrite I'm not sure how that could be accomplished; it may be possible to create localised spellings using templates, but my understanding is that may also be undesirable because of the extra overhead on what is already a heavily loaded system.
Even if my proposal to ease off on consistency for the benefit of editorial harmony is rejected outright, I remain hopeful that somebody else may be able to think of a better solution, or failing that, a more acceptable compromise. —Vom (talk) 15:53, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

The only solution I personally see to this long lasting UK/US English debate is this - have automated software check for words that are spelt differently in each variant, and transparently replace them for a user as appropriate based on the following hierarchy (top to bottom): A setting in logged in user's preferences (if set), the English variant requested by a browser's Accept-Language header (if any), IP address based choosing of the correct English variant, then if all else fails default to British English :D *waves flag patriotically* whichever variant of English is most commonly used throughout the world. Would such a system be prohibitively difficult to implement? Xmoogle (talk) 16:51, 6 May 2012 (UTC)

Although this may be discussed elsewhere in this namespace, the above question about using Google to determine usage frequencies is predicated upon Google being perfect in its pages found counts (it is not) and upon the Web as publishing pages reflecting the actual usage of words in English speech (it does not). (At the very least, WP editors should restrict search engine results to pages written in English, and exclude the word "Wikipedia".) David Spector (talk) 17:04, 21 March 2013 (UTC)


I was surprised not to see the above in the comparison charts either here on on the American/British spelling page. I know that - particularly for British users - it has long been a bone of contention with spelling checkers in software packages that the "British English" version permits the former (US) spelling.

Should it be included here? Crimperman (talk) 13:40, 23 October 2009 (UTC)

Preferred spellings in Wikipedia[edit]

Is there a preference for one spelling or the other in Wikipedia? I thought I read that there was not, i.e. use your native spelling. However, I have seen examples of American spellings being changed to British spellings in Wikipedia, including at least one of my contributions. Rsduhamel (talk) 15:52, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Yes. If you start the article, it's your spelling dialect unless the article is obviously a "national" article. So "the Sovereign of England" is English spelling regardless of who starts it. "Baseball" would be an American article since there is no competing dialect in a baseball crazy nation! This really should be enforced though technically not necessary for national articles, by inserting the dialect with a template on the discussion page. For example: {{British English}} Gives a nice banner explaining the rules.
Here are the rest of them. Student7 (talk) 03:40, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

User:Angr/Unified English Spelling[edit]

I was about to add *User:Angr/Unified English Spelling under "See also", but decided to mention it here. -- Wavelength (talk) 16:11, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

MoS naming style[edit]

There is currently an ongoing discussion about the future of this and others MoS naming style. Please consider the issues raised in the discussion and vote if you wish GnevinAWB (talk) 20:58, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Table Colour[edit]

Can someone make a colour chart explaining what the colour differences in the main table mean? -- Phoenix (talk) 03:47, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

It appears that light blue entries use the same spelling as the American spelling, light breen entries use the UK spelling, and light pink entries use something else (both UK and American, or maybe something else... I didn't bother checking each entry). I have no idea why two of the Canadian entries are in bright yellow. In my opinion the colours are so subdued as to be useless. Aside from the bright yellow, I didn't even notice the colours until I found this discussion topic. Meters (talk) 18:26, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
changed the yellow entries to pink since they don't follow either UK or US Meters (talk) 20:13, 23 January 2012 (UTC)

Is a reliable source for spelling?[edit]

I have begun editing an article in which a rather bizarre minority spelling appears. I've checked the usual printed sources, and that spelling is not preferred in Britain, not preferred in America, and not preferred in specialized technical publications on the subject of the article online or offline. Right now, the article cites as a source for the etymology of the word and for the bizarre spelling, but that seems odd, as the free online Merriam-Webster dictionary would be a reliable source for (American) spelling that is every bit as convenient (and more authoritative about etymology). What online spelling resources are usually preferred for Wikipedians working on articles? (I used to be a professional editor and a translator, and I have a home office chock full of all the usual print dictionaries and other reference books used in editorial offices.) -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk) 15:34, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

Wiktionary is a sister project and can be used. e.g. Wiktionary:bibliophile. (Piped to bibliophile). I can't say that it has the meticulous oversight of Wikipedia but most words seem correct. Having said that, it will contain alternate spellings. Or (worse for you) someone can add them! Student7 (talk) 21:38, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Yes, Wiktionary is a sister project and many Wikipedia articles with words to define should link to Wiktionary to show the definition. But to verify the definition or spelling, just as to verify facts in articles, Wikipedia needs to point to reliable sources independent of the Wikimedia projects. For the moment, I see the online Merriam-Webster dictionary as an especially authoritative and especially convenient resource for Wikipedia editors. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk) 21:48, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't think Wiktionary is a reliable source at all. Some could easily create a Wiktionary page then use it as a source in Wikipedia. Wiktionary should be (but usually isn't) sourced as well. The free online edition of the Oxford dictionary seems the best free online source. It contains information on British and American spellings. McLerristarr | Mclay1 15:53, 2 November 2010 (UTC)
You may be correct for disputed spellings, but Wiktionary can be linked inline (okay, piped, to be technically accurate) just like Wikipedia articles. Non-Wikimedia dictionaries have to be footnoted, not linked. Student7 (talk) 20:51, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

About the spelling[edit]

Suggest that we use Oxford spelling in all Wikipedia articles, except in writing quotes or discussing spelling differences, as UN and its organizations all use Oxford spelling in their English official documents.--RekishiEJ (talk) 05:35, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

What do you mean by Oxford spelling? Oxford University Press publishes dictionaries of American English, and as far as I know, those dictionaries attest American spellings. (I suppose you are referring to one subsection of the project page here, about international organizations. But anyway, Wikipedia has already decided not to prefer one system of spelling, British versus American, over another across the Wikipedia project, as is documented already on the project page here. As a practical matter, we have to let Wikipedians all over the world use the dictionaries they have at hand as they write new articles.) -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk) 13:55, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

name variants[edit]

Commentators thought there should be notice here of a discussion at Wikipedia_talk:Naming_conventions_(use_English)#Using_local_terms_for_local_phenomena.

Question: is this national varieties policy relevant to naming articles, such as whether the river should be at Ganges (international usage) or at Ganga (national usage)? I think I know the answer (and certainly my own preference), but it isn't made explicit anywhere, which results in arguments on interpreting policy. — kwami (talk) 16:34, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

judgment in current article 10/30/2010[edit]

"judgement vs judgment: judgement is preferred in British English (except in the sense of a judge's decision, in which case judgment is preferred), judgment in American English"-- I'm pretty sure that the quoted claim is incorrect. In modern american english, judgement is standard.--Rich Peterson24.7.28.186 (talk) 19:33, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

Never mind, at least in New york Times, i'm wrong. (talk) 19:42, 30 October 2010 (UTC)
Sources are your friend. The several dictionaries (both British and American) I have in my office confirm the statement in the Manual of Style here. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 21:49, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

Some issues with the Canadian spellings[edit]

Most of the Canadian spellings are correct, but I've always been taught to spell organisation and sceptic as such. Can anyone else confirm this? Ajraddatz (Talk) 02:42, 6 November 2010 (UTC)

Not sure about the precise question. All spellings are correct, but an article may be in one dialect or another in which case, the spelling for that dialect must be followed for that article. If you are asking if "organisation" and sceptic is correct in American dialect, the answer is no for Wikipedia. It is correct for most (or maybe all) other dialects and "organization" and skeptic would be wrong there! I agree that there are sometimes "secondary" spellings in various dialects, but we go with the main one to avoid arguments. So much easier than arguing that a "secondary" one "could be" acceptable in both/other dialects. Student7 (talk) 18:45, 7 November 2010 (UTC)
Canadians do no always spell exactly as the Americans – Canandian English is closer to the original British English than American English is. The problem with Canadian English is that there is no standard like there is for American and British English. People spell differently depending on whether they idenitfy closer with the British, French or Americans. McLerristarr | Mclay1 00:52, 9 November 2010 (UTC)

Racket vs Racquet[edit]

There needs to be some agreement for standarisation of the spelling of racket (or racquet)

At the moment, all of the pages describing sports played with rackets (e.g. tennis) read like an absolute shambles. I'd suggest using racket, because it reads more easily with its more phonetic spelling and is in more common use globally (strangely, British English speakers almost never use the old english racquet, it's only American English speakers who use both). I'm happy to go around and standardi(s)(z)e this, but I thought It'd be better to share the idea for one way vs the other with the community first, and have a discussion as to which way it should go. Veggieburgerfish (talk) 16:17, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

The spelling only needs to be standardised for each page. Different pages can use different spellings. Whatever spelling is used on a particular page needs to be discussed at that page's talk page, not here. McLerristarr | Mclay1 05:56, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
I would hope the sport uses racquets, though I confess my American dialect spellchecker doesn't like it. RICO is aimed at rackets. The mob and all that. IMO.  :) Student7 (talk) 21:30, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

Brit here, the correct spelling (when referring to tennis etc) is certainly 'racquet', 'racket' pertains to a loud noise, or shady business practices. Usual US-bias on here. Please remember whose language it is. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:26, 28 August 2015 (UTC)

RFC: restructuring of the Manual of Style[edit]

Editors may be interested in this RFC, along with the discussion of its implementation:

Should all subsidiary pages of the Manual of Style be made subpages of WP:MOS?

It's big; and it promises huge improvements. Great if everyone can be involved. NoeticaTea? 00:49, 25 June 2011 (UTC)


How should diatrics be handled? For instance, in an article with a title containing diatrics, should the article be consistent and use diatrics in every mention of the subject?

Please add a {{Talkback|Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Spelling}} to my talk page when you respond. ··gracefool 16:24, 10 November 2011 (UTC)


I'm sorry, but very few people in the UK spell jail as 'gaol' anymore. Although occassionally seen, it's bordering on archaic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:28, 4 March 2012 (UTC)

It's about the same in Australia as well. Although it is used to refer to historical jails sometimes, like the Old Perth Gaol. - Imperator Talk 08:47, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

Expand on archaic spelling[edit]

I raised the question of how to handle archaic spellings at the WP:Teahouse, and from the conversation there

The WP:Spelling page currently reads:

Older sources use many archaic variants (such as shew for show), which are not to be used outside quotations except in special circumstances (for example, quire may be used instead of choir in architectural contexts).

I'd like to promote this to its own section and add the following:

As a rule of thumb, make life easy for the reader both for reading and for looking things up. For example, the text of an article might read "Thomas Ady attacked the Demonology of King James..." while the citation should read Daemonologie, In Forme of a Dialogie, Diuided into three Bookes. By James Rx, 1597....". This rule frees the casual reader from having to decipher the archaic spelling while giving the serious reader a better idea where to find more information. Adding a <!-- comment --> may help prevent well-meaning editors from correcting the spelling "mistakes".
As an exception to this exception, the "long s" glyph should usually be rendered as the modern "s", and typographic ligatures (such as the single glyph for "ct") should be rendered as separate characters. Aside from the difficulties of reliably rendering these glyphs on browsers, most of the online material relating to Early Modern English is indexed using ASCII rather than Unicode.


Garamond Lethe(talk) 21:25, 19 May 2012 (UTC)

RfC: Archaic Spelling in Document Titles[edit]

Problem: Retaining archaic spelling used in titles of references may be baffling to casual readers, but modernizing the spelling may make locating the reference more difficult.

Example: Thomas Ady's book Hocus Pocus Junior (1634) was printed as Hocvs Pocvs Ivnior.


When archaic spelling is used in the title of a work, modernize the spelling in the text of the article but retain the original spelling in the references. For example, the text of an article might read "Thomas Ady attacked the Demonology of King James..." while the citation should read Daemonologie, In Forme of a Dialogie, Diuided into three Bookes. By James Rx, 1597....". Adding a <!-- comment --> may help prevent well-meaning editors from correcting the spelling "mistakes".
As per WP:MOSQUOTE, archaic glyphs should be modernized within both quotes and titles (e.g., æ→ae, œ→oe, ſ→s, and ye→the).

Comments? Garamond Lethe(talk) 08:41, 2 June 2012 (UTC)

Can you clarify what this RfC is asking about? Did you already add the above material, and you are just asking for opinions on it? Or do you want to modify that above guidance (it is already in this MOS)? --Noleander (talk) 16:22, 17 June 2012 (UTC)

Beatles RfC[edit]

You are invited to participate in an RfC at Wikipedia talk:Requests for mediation/The Beatles on the issue of capitalising the definite article when mentioning that band's name in running prose. This long-standing dispute is the subject of an open mediation case and we are requesting your help with determining the current community consensus. Thank you for your time. For the mediators. ~ GabeMc (talk|contribs) 21:39, 22 September 2012 (UTC)


The article currently gives the American usage as: "theater (building), theatre (stage productions)". Says who? In my experience it is the exact reverse: the building or the theatrical company may (or may not) be spelled "theatre",[6] [7] [8] but productions and drama in general are almost always referred to as "theater". [9] [10] [11] Comments? -- MelanieN (talk) 20:11, 7 November 2012 (UTC)

In fact, the reference given (for the fuller discussion lower in the article)[12] says that "Americans spell it "theater" except sometimes in proper names, where... theatre can occur." In other words, the explanation within the table has it backwards. --MelanieN (talk) 20:15, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
I just checked three different dictionaries [13] [14] [15] (and the source you provided, MelanieN) and none of them draw that distinction. In fact, they pretty much say that "theater" and "theatre" mean the same thing, though "theater" seems to be the preferred American spelling. I took it out per WP:Verifiability. If anyone wants it back, just find a good source for it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:14, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
And I put it back. there is no consesus for the change.--Amadscientist (talk) 05:28, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Two people pointed out that the information is unsourced and unverifiable and no one has found otherwise. That's consensus.
I'd be fine with the assertion being restored if sufficient sources could be found, but we've got three dictionaries and a book that make no mention of Americans using "theater" to refer to buildings and "theatre" to refer to performances. It's looking as thought it either isn't true or isn't standard enough to merit inclusion here.
Please find at least one verifiable source that supports your position before reverting the page. Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:38, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
So you feel that your making a point here is not edit warring and that if I present "suffcient sources" it can be returned? I will hold you to that as I have found several dictionaries and sources and will be presenting them shortly, but a consensus was not formed when you made the edit and did it as a direct "point" from another discussion. That is edit warring to make a point. But we'll drop that if you do not revert me in a moment.--Amadscientist (talk) 06:06, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Most of what Melanie presented was illustrative only and I will be dismissing most of it but the releveant RS. Darkfrogs24's sources are better for the argument.--Amadscientist (talk) 06:11, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Correct. Making a point on a talk page is not edit warring. Removing unsourced material from an article is not edit warring, not even if the editor is engaged in a similar discussion elsewhere.
Because this is now an active discussion, it would be best for you to show sources before changing MOS:SPELLING.Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:13, 7 March 2013 (UTC)

This isn't an article it is part of the Wikpedia Manual of Style Guidelines, but...anyway---Amadscientist (talk) 06:16, 7 March 2013 (UTC)

"Regent prefers the traditional English spelling theatre to theater. However, when referring to the actual physical space/building, rather than the art form, theater may be used." This doesn't exactly say "Americans use 'theater' to mean buildings and 'theatre' to mean stage performances." In fact, it seems to be saying that it's the preference of the university and not of American English in general. Got anything else? Remember, we've got three dictionaries and the Columbia Guide to Standard American English that all say that "theater" and "theatre" can both be used for both meanings. Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:23, 7 March 2013 (UTC)

None of your sources say anything (except the single book reference). Just let me present my sources, they are as striong or stronger than yours.--Amadscientist (talk) 06:26, 7 March 2013 (UTC)

None of my sources say anything? Look a little closer:
American Heritage dictionary: "theater/-re" means 1. the building in which theater is performed 2. "dramatic literature or its performance"/"milieu of actors and playwrights."
Webster: 1. the building in which theater is performed 2. "dramatic literature"/"plays."
Oxford U.S.: 1. the building in which theater is performed 2. "a play ... in terms of its dramatic quality" 1. the building in which theater is performed 2. "dramatic performances as a branch of art"
So that's four dictionaries that A) are explicitly speaking about American English in general and B) explicitly state that "theater/-re" has both meanings. Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:41, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Wrong. does not define the use of the word alone to define a branch of the arts. They state that to be "the theater".--Amadscientist (talk) 07:49, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Your Minnesota Public Radio source does cite an English professor, but look what she says: "I think 'theater' and 'theatre' have different connotations." Connotations, not definitions. Look at the rest of the article: "My feeling is." "I speculate that." And the rest of the article goes on about how everyone uses different spellings. That's pretty weak.
The Loyola Style guide says it very well itself: "this official Loyola University New Orleans Editorial Style Guide outlines style practices specific to Loyola University New Orleans," italics mine. This style guide is not talking about American English in general. However, it does mention general-English style guides Chicago and Webster. I would be more interested on what they have to say on this matter. Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:41, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Not as weak as you using primary sources. LOL!--Amadscientist (talk) 06:53, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
By the way....notice how all these disctionaries use the building as the first definiton. Good argument to say that is the prefered US variant to me.
What primary sources? Dictionaries can be considered secondary or tertiary sources, depending. In this case, a primary source would be a piece of writing in which the author uses "theatre" or "theater" in a specific way.
Yes, these dictionaries do all present the building-meaning first, but none of them say that "theater" has one meaning and "theatre" another. Here's the British Oxford dictionary, for comparison. It lists the meanings of "theatre" in the same order, building first and drama/art second. Darkfrog24 (talk) 07:02, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
I see you've posted two more sources, but they both explicitly state that this distinction is not part of American English in general but rather specific to certain publications or people.
Your source Words on Words says "some publications prefer theatre in generic reference to the performing arts ... but the more common form is theater." Again, this isn't a strong indication that the distinction between theatre and theater is part of AmE.
The author of The Show Must Go On refers to the distinction as "a colloquial understanding among my colleagues ... all of this could be disputed." Again, she's not talking about American English in general.
It sounds like this distinction isn't something that Americans do so much as something that theater/-re fans and pros do. Darkfrog24 (talk) 07:10, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
These are still stronger than the three dictionary (tertiary) sources.--Amadscientist (talk) 07:13, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
And with all your arguing for arguments sake you have still yet to demostrate how your sources are the actual prefered spelling for American variants.--Amadscientist (talk) 07:15, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
The question is not "What is the preferred American spelling of 'theatre/theater'?" The question is "Do 'theater' and 'theatre' have different meanings in American English?"
I've provided four dictionaries that both state that they're talking about American English, that they're talking about both spellings, and that both the "building" and "dramatic performance" meanings are correct. This answers the question at hand head-on: "No, 'theater' and 'theatre' do not have different meanings in American English."
As for which sources are stronger, these four dictionaries are specifically talking about American English in general. Your two style guides state that they're specific to their respective universities. The English professor in your radio story says she's talking about connotations and not definitions. The two books you've provided explicitly state that the distinction in question is not found in American English in general. Darkfrog24 (talk) 07:20, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
And as I have said, that is stronger as secondary sourcing than tertiary sourcing per or policies and guidelines. But lets go further. According to Oxfords dictionary there are two correct spellings for the word used in the US, Theater or theatre: [21]. So we know there is that a single spelling is NOT prefered.--Amadscientist (talk) 07:28, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Also, does not state that theater is an art form. Look again. It states that to be "the theater" and is only defined that one time so that throws out that tertiary source as supporting your argument.--Amadscientist (talk) 07:46, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
It says "dramatic performance as a branch of art." That's theater as an art form. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:27, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
As I said, not for the word itself. Please see the source. its "The theater" so we are using different termonolgy by adding the word with another creating a "phrase". Its use for this meaning is "within" a phrase.--Amadscientist (talk) 00:18, 8 March 2013 (UTC)


I have referenced the information. However the spelling is actually not what either of us may have thought. First "Theater" is not the prefered American English variation. There is no proper prefered version. Both are used and considered pretty interchangable. So, while it can be said (and should be mentioned) that indeed "theater" is often used to denote a structure or building and "theatre" used to refer to the art form, it also isn't set or firm. In fact, it appears (and I will return to this later today to add the information and source it with RS) that even the so called "British" version is not or was not always spelled 're'. It appears that Shakespeare is credited with the first use of "theater" to refer to a building and used the er spelling. (lost the source. My browser freaked out several times duing this) So I have only removed the "prefered" wording from the tables but have not returned the "building for 'er' and artform for 're". I have placed all the content in the prose below the tables and fully referenced everything. I didn't use any of the refs from this page as I felt your challenge of each one was enough to make me find other, more firmly worded reliable sources. It also helped to cite and fix some content that was already there and remove a great deal that was original research as well as some reather wordy material that wasn't really needed and was really too specific to individual, named theatres as examples of both spellings.--Amadscientist (talk) 11:30, 7 March 2013 (UTC)

Oh, one other thing. I did find a reference (I need to find it again, browser freaked at that point and closed) that mentions the American dictionaries and how all of them use the definition of "theater" being a building or structure as their first meaning supposedly to be the "preferred" definition but I have to find it again to see exactly what it was talking about. Another thing, I was being refreshed with the terms history and its etymology while researching this and its origins appear to have some meaning to structure but need to look further into that as well. May lead to why this seems to be the first definition seen in dictionaries. This serves to remind me in the later part of the day after I get some sleep.--Amadscientist (talk) 11:39, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Yes, "theater" is the preferred spelling. The dictionaries all give "theater" with "also 'theatre.'" That's what they do with preferred and non-preferred spellings. This is even clearer in one of the sources that you provided. Words specifically says that "theater" is more common in U.S. English. It's also true according to the Columbia Guide and Oxford British and World English dictionary.
I can get behind mentioning the building/performance distinction in the prose—that's a very good idea—so long as we acknowledge that this distinction is rare.
Regardless of whether dictionaries consider the building meaning to be predominant over the art form meaning, the fact that they all list both meanings shows that they maintain that the word has both meanings. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:27, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Yes, "common" but no source (so far) says "preferred". As I said, I wont do anything without a source so i only ask you to do the same. If I do find such supporting RS and it is reasonably worded by an appropriate academic I can see adding that but so far it does appear there is no preferred spelling and the tertiary sources don't say it and so don't support that.--Amadscientist (talk) 00:16, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
Since you cannot stop removing referenced content and synthesizing information. This needs to be addressed through the larger community. I also believe the issue needs its own subpage.--Amadscientist (talk) 00:25, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
Your claim "there is no preferred spelling" is contradicted by the sources. Yes, you found one author who says "this could all be disputed," but that's not enough to make the claim that American English doesn't have a preferred spelling of "theater."
The quote from Hischak is bulky and makes the "theater" entry disproportionate to the other entries in that subsection. It is enough to paraphrase the point that the source makes about the material. Otherwise, we'd have to include quotes from the other sources as well.
The statement that the distinction between "theater" and "theatre" by meaning is rare is not only necessary; it's generous. We have five dictionaries that directly state that these terms do not have different meanings.
As for "preferred," dictionaries list the preferred spelling first and the alternate spelling second. You have made the argument yourself that order indicates preference in dictionaries in this conversation. EDIT: But I've changed it to "predominant" anyway. "Preferred" is just as true, but "predominant" is more verifiable. Your own Words gives this information.
And of course the Columbia Guide to Style should only show up in the bibliography once. I don't even know why you didn't think that fix was constructive.
Yes, the argument can be made that Wikipedia's ban of single-quotes is unnecessary, but it is in place. Even if it weren't the article would still have to be consistent within itself. Changing the single quotes ' ' to double quotation marks " " was a basic style issue. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:14, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Moved from RfC Moved back. I will not move or touch you replies. If you want them moved do so. Stop moving my comments. This has now become disruptive.--Amadscientist (talk) 06:20, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Then stop putting them where they don't belong. No one will be able to read the RfC if it's clogged with irrelevant content. I've started a new section. That should do it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:27, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

RfC: Should WP:SPELLING state that "theater" and "theatre" have different meanings?[edit]

Should WP:SPELLING maintain that "theater" and "theatre" have different meanings in U.S. English? Should it refer to the "theater" spelling as "preferred," "predominant" or neither of these?

First editor removed the text "theater (building), theatre (stage productions)" from the U.S. column of a spelling chart after finding no support for the assertion that these terms have different meanings in three dictionaries or the page's existing sources.

Second editor replaced the content and provided sources, which the first editor criticized as weak. First editor removed the content, claiming that evidence against including it was stronger.

First and second editor are currently working out the exact text for the spelling chart and a short prose section which would have enough room for statements about how common each spelling is, etc. Both invite further comment. 02:39, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

For your commenting convenience:
Sources supporting "theater" and "theatre" having the same meaning:
Columbia Guide to Standard American English says that "Americans spell it 'theater' except sometimes in proper names, where... theatre can occur."
American Heritage dictionary: both spellings are said to mean 1. the building in which theater is performed 2. "dramatic literature or its performance"/"milieu of actors and playwrights."
Webster: both spellings are said to mean 1. the building in which theater is performed 2. "dramatic literature"/"plays."
Oxford U.S.: both spellings are said to mean 1. the building in which theater is performed 2. "a play ... in terms of its dramatic quality" both spellings are said to mean 1. the building in which theater is performed 2. "dramatic performances as a branch of art"
These four dictionaries that A) explicitly state that they're talking about American English in general and B) explicitly state that "theater/-re" has both meanings. The Oxford British and World Dictionary also states that they mean the same thing. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:44, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
Sources offered in support of "theater" and "theatre" having different meanings:
Regent University Editorial Style Guide
Article from Minnesota Public Radio "I think 'theater' and 'theatre' have different connotations," says Associate English Professor K. Scheil
Loyola University Editorial Style Guide
The Show Must Go On by Laura Jo Thudium Zieglowsky "There is a colloquial understanding among my colleagues in this art form that 'theater' refers to a space and 'theatre' refers to what happens in the space ... but all this can be disputed."
Words on Words by John B. Bremner02:53, 8 March 2013 (UTC) "Also, some publications prefer theatre in generic reference to the performing arts, as in 'the Broadway theatre' or 'a love of theatre,' but the more common form is theater."

These are two style guides, one of which does not make the claim in question and both of which state that they're specific to their respective universities, one news article that quotes a professor talking about connotations, one book that refers to the distinction in meaning as "a consensus among my colleagues," and one book that refers to "theater" as "the preference of some publications." My take on the matter is that if WP:SPELLING mentions the difference in meaning at all, then it should also say that this distinction is rare. Saying or implying that standard American English uses "theater" for buildings and "theatre" for performances would be misleading. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:53, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
Whooh there. These were brought to the talkpage during the above discussion but are not used to support anything that was incuded on the actual MOS. Those were my initial findings not what references were used to support any text and prose.--Amadscientist (talk) 05:41, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
AMS, these are your sources and I deliberately left room for you to modify them. If you feel they're not relevant to this RfC, then cross them out or remove them. Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:51, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
Below are the sources that I referenced the content on the page itself. I did not use any of the above styleguides to reference anything. Thanks for giving me permission to move or strike out your comments. I don't feel the need to do so. I would however state point black that you do not have permission to move or strike any of my comments. It appears accuracy is not your best strength. I prefer to allow others to see that.--Amadscientist (talk) 06:14, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
Take your own advice: I did not give you permission to move our strike out my comments. Do not touch my comments. This specific list of sources that you provided is a case of me paraphrasing you. That's why I didn't sign it. It would be all right for you to strike out or delete parts of that list of your sources. That is it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:20, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Text recommended by first editor:

*theatre – theater/Theatre[1] : In U.S. English, "theater" is the preferred spelling but "theatre" is also used.[2] The term "theater" can refer to a building in which plays are performed or in which films are shown (a theater) while "theatre" may be used to refer to the performance itself (theatre arts),[3] but this distinction is relatively rare and most dictionaries list both meanings for the same spelling.[4] [5][6] [7] Major American newspapers such as The New York Times use theater in their sections, while many stage and film venues use theatre in the establishment's name.[8] The Columbia University Guide to Standard American English states that "theater" is used except in proper names.[1]

04:38, 8 March 2013 (UTC) Text recommended by second editor:

*theatre – theater/Theatre[9] : There is no true standard spelling,[10] although the "British" variation is frequently used.[11] The term 'theater' can refer to the structure (a theatre) while 'theatre' may be used to refer to the art (theatre arts).[12] [10]

"Many believe that the place, a theater building, should be spelled with an er while the art form should be re".

Thomas S. Hischak "Theatre as Human Action: An Introduction to Theatre Arts" (2005)

Some major American newspapers such as The New York Times's use theater in their sections, while some local New York venues use theatre in the establishment's name.[13] The Columbia University Guide to Standard American English states that "theater" is used except in proper names.[14]
  1. ^ a b Wilson, Kenneth G. (1993). "theater, theatre". The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. Columbia University Press. p. 406. ISBN 978-0231069892. 
  2. ^ Davies, Christopher (2007). Divided by a Common Language: A Guide to British and American English. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 90. ISBN 13: 9780618911622 Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help). 
  3. ^ Hischak, Thomas S. (2005). Theatre as Human Action: An Introduction to Theatre Arts. Scarecrow Press. p. 5. ISBN 978-0810856868. 
  4. ^ "theater". American Heritage Dictionary. Fifth. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 2011. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  5. ^ "theater". Oxford (U.S. Version). Oxford University Press. 2013. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  6. ^ "theater". Merriam Webster. Merriam-Webster Incorporated. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  7. ^ "theater". Oxford British and World English. Oxford University Press. 2013. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  8. ^ "English Spelling - Word Endings". Learn English Network. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Wilson, Kenneth G. (1993). The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. Columbia University Press. p. 406. ISBN 978-0231069892. 
  10. ^ a b Zieglowsky, Laura Jo Thudium (2008). The show must go on: A descriptive single-site case study of dignity in the workplace among academic theatre collaborators. The University of Iowa. p. 1. ISBN 9780549950776. 
  11. ^ Davies, Christopher (2007). Divided by a Common Language: A Guide to British and American English. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 90. ISBN 13: 9780618911622 Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help). 
  12. ^ Hischak, Thomas S. (2005). Theatre as Human Action: An Introduction to Theatre Arts. Scarecrow Press. p. 5. ISBN 978-0810856868. 
  13. ^ "English Spelling - Word Endings". Learn English Network. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  14. ^ Wilson, Kenneth G. (1993). "theater, theatre". The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 435. 
  • Whether we should make this distinction or not depends on what it is we are trying to accomplish here. Are we trying to make a perfect guide to professional writing in the English language, or is the MOS intended to reflect practices rather than dictate them? If it's the first, then we should make the distinction as it is technically correct. If it is the second then we probably shouldn't since in practice the two words are often used interchangeably. Beeblebrox (talk) 03:16, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
"Interchangable" does appear to be what the reliable, secondary sources are stating, although there are sources to support that many people do see "theater" as bing a buidling and "theatre" being the art form/ But most important is that very few sources are claiming that one is preferred over the other (as that makes a distinction of being the "correct" variation) and I do object to the relaibally sourced claim that there is no standard being removed to replace it with claims that don't apear to be supported by the source I provided.--Amadscientist (talk) 03:39, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
If the sources list the same meanings for "theater" and "theatre"—and they do—then no, it's not technically correct. It's not that half the sources say "this distinction is made" and the others say nothing; it's that some sources say "sometimes this distinction is made" and the others say "this distinction is not made." Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:26, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Further discussion on the meanings of theater and theatre[edit]

Please do not put comments not immediately relevant to the RfC in the RfC section. That is for new editors to make contributions and provide new insights.Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:23, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

That might be a tad disingenuous. If you remove a relaible source that states that there is no standard and then add another source that makes no distinction and claim other "predominant" that is original research. The source simply does not say it. It is a but outrageous to see a source that was used appropriaitly that i found to simple claim that the British soelling is sometimes used to be turned on its head that way.
  • You placed this: "In U.S. English, "theater" is the predominant spelling but "theatre" is also used.[1]"That is simply not what the source states which is (bolding for clarity):

"Words ending in -re in British spelling usually end with -er in American spelling. Theatre is often spelled the british way".

The source doesn't state that the word theatre itself is predominant. it is clearly saying that while words in British are commonly ended with er in is frequently spelled in the British manner. You reverted the original use of that source which was supporting the claim "...although the "British" variation is frequently used". The first part of that sentence was simply that there is no standard spelling in the US. and there isn't. It was also supported by an academic dissertation which is an accepted RS. That does indeed appear to be edit warring. The burden of evidence was met. You changed it to suit what you "just like". That doesn't seem to be within the spriet, let alone policy of Wikipedia. I feel justified in returning that.
I would also note that this RFC seems to be far too complicated.--Amadscientist (talk) 05:37, 8 March 2013 (UTC)


  1. ^ Davies, Christopher (2007). Divided by a Common Language: A Guide to British and American English. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 90. ISBN 13: 9780618911622 Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help). 
None of the sources say that there is no standard spelling in the U.S. The one that comes closest to doing that is Show Must Go On and that one only says "disputed."
Columbia Guide and Words both say that the "theater" spelling is predominant. Words says "the more common form is theater." You are the one who listed this book as a source! Why would you do that if you didn't think it was credible?
What academic dissertation? If you have an academic dissertation, add it to the list of sources supporting your decision. Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:45, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
That was innacurate. Laura Jo Thudium Zieglowsky clearly states in the notes section of page one that there is no standard spelling for the word. That is even supported by the tertiary sources you provided.--Amadscientist (talk) 05:57, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
She says no such thing. And while it's not inappropriate to move comments from where they don't belong to a where they do belong. It is inappropriate to delete other people's comments. Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:00, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
She does. And no, it is not appropriate to move relevant discussion to where you think they belong. It changes the meaning of my posts. They are relevant to this discussiion. Now, what comment was deleted. If i did so it was by accident.--Amadscientist (talk) 06:04, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
No she doesn't. Please supply the text that you believe equates to "there's no standard."
Moving your posts does not change their meaning and does keep the RfC from becoming disorganized. Deleting my posts, on the other hand, does not. Be more careful Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:13, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
  • My next issue is with the use of tertiary, primary sources to justify original research with ",...but this distinction is relatively rare and most dictionaries list both meanings for the same spelling.[4] [5][6] [7]" That is not at all a straight forward descritption of the sources. I could just as easily say something like "All dictionaries confirm that the main use of either spelling is in reference to a building or structure".--Amadscientist (talk) 05:46, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
Stop deleting my comments. This is the second or third time I've had to put this back. I've lost count.Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:26, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
For the second time, what primary sources? Dictionaries are not primary sources. A primary source in this case would be a source that shows someone using the word "theater/-re," not a source that discusses the word theater. Neither of us have used primary sources here.
The dictionaries do list the same meaning for both spellings. That's what dictionaries do. Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:51, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
A dictionary is a tertiary source, but you are using them in a manner that is not supported by what they state. You are using them to simply illustrate that the word is in the dictionary. That makes its use primary. You synthesis claims about prominance of use and American usage that are not mention in their summarise. Most of how you use the dictionaries is as a primary illustration to just show words alone just like if you claimed a date of of publication from the source. Here you are using the disctionary sources to make a claim of how the words should be used and since the spellings of both appear they don't support rarity of use you claim anyway but as a primary source do show that both spellings are presnt. Primary usage.--Amadscientist (talk) 08:55, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
No, I'm using the dictionaries to show what the official definitions of the words are. That's use as intended.
What claims about prominence of use do you think I'm making. I don't follow you here. If you're referring to "this meaning is mentioned first, so it's the main one," I haven't been saying that; you have. Wait, are you talking about how "theater" is preferred because the dictionaries list it as "theater, also theatre"? Yes, that's dictionary SOP. Also, the Oxford British and World Dictionary gives "theater" as the U.S. spelling.
Yes, if a dictionary says "Here's the word 'theater,' also spelled 'theatre.' It has these five meanings" that means that both spellings do have all five meanings.
No, that's not dictionary-as-primary source. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:20, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Phrasing of the prose section[edit]

How's this?

"Theater" is more common in American English than "theatre" is.[] According to the Columbia Guide to Standard American English, "theatre" is reserved for proper names.[] However, according to Words about Words: Rest of the Title, some publications use the term "theater" to refer to a building in which plays are performed or in which films are shown (a theater) and "theatre" to refer to the performance itself (theatre arts).[] Most U.S. dictionaries list both spellings and both meanings.[][][][]

There we go. Source A says X, source B says Y, and dictionaries say Z. The distinction is mentioned in a way that shows its proportional use in American English without claiming that it is standard American English. Since every source that mentions the distinction adds a qualifying phrase (Words says "some publications," Show says "consensus among my colleagues ... disputed," and Hickney says "many believe") the article text should have qualifying phrase as well, preferably the exact same one used in the source. I've used Words here because its qualifying phrase, "some publications" will made the distinction seem more credible to the reader than other phrases used. I could also get behind "a consensus among many theater professionals." Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:34, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Take two. Since we can't agree about how to interpret what the sources say, let's just tell the readers what the sources say:

Sources differ on whether "theater" and "theatre" have different meanings in American English. The Columbia Guide to Standard American English states that "theatre" is only used for proper names in American English, but other sources, especially sources written by or for theater professionals, state that the meanings of the words can differ in specific contexts. For example, The Show Must Go On: A single-site case study on dignity in the workplace among academic theatre collaborators by Laura Jo Thudium Zieglowski, states "There is no standard for spelling this word, although there is a colloquial understanding among my colleagues in this art form that 'theater' refers to a space and 'theatre' refers to what happens in that space." Words on Words: Rest of the Title by John B. Brenner states "some publications prefer theatre in generic reference to the performing arts, as in 'the Broadway theatre' or 'American theatre' or 'love of the theatre,' but the more common form is theater." Most dictionaries list both spellings and both meanings.[][][][]

Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:30, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Examining the issue from a different perspective[edit]

It is important to remember why this guideline contains the section this debate is about... we are not trying to give a complete list of every single word that shifts meaning when spelling shifts. We are listing a few of them... as examples of the phenomenon, so the reader can better understand our guidance. So I would like to ask... Is the "theater/theatre" distinction really a good example? Does mentioning it really clarify our guidance? I don't think so... Yes, a few US sources do use the theater/theatre spellings to distinguish between the building and the art form. However, I question whether enough do so to make it a good example for this guideline. Good examples are those that are clear and unambiguous... that don't require a paragraph of text to explain. So I have to question whether this is really a helpful example of the phenomenon we are trying to explain (words where different spellings are given different meanings). So... I suggest we simply omit it. Not because it is correct or incorrect... but because it isn't really a good example. Blueboar (talk) 13:41, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

I like your vision of what the article is for and I agree that it's not a clear example, but I feel that if "theater/-re" were not mentioned at all, theater/-re professionals would assume that it was an omission, and re-insert the "theater means building, theatre means art" distinction without realizing that it's not exactly standard English. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:21, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
I can see Blueboar's point. I also feel that we shouldn't be suggesting what is or isn't predominant without a secondary source making that claim and certainly not from OR of the tertiary sources. Its instructional and that is not the purpose of our guidelines.--Amadscientist (talk) 21:25, 19 March 2013 (UTC)

How about[edit]

How about having it not really matter, both be correct, and if it has one spelling leave it be. It shouldn't matter that much if an article uses American or British spelling... in my opinion, a war over the spelling would violate WP:NPOV. iTAC ཏལྐ་ ཝོརྐ་ 21:25, 24 March 2013 (UTC)

Um, no one is questioning that both spellings are used. The issue is whether "theater" and "theatre" mean different things in American English. The short, short version is that Amad believes that "theater" refers to venues and "theatre" to performances and I don't. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:48, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

No consensus has been reached for the revert[edit]

By policy and guidelines the original change that was challenged should stand.--Amadscientist (talk) 03:04, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

Except the "original" material is wrong. None of the sources say that there is no standard spelling and one of them, Columbia Guide says that "theater" is used except for proper nouns. If you think that "predominant" is reading too much into things, then "there is no standard spelling" is unusable for the same reason. I've restored the text but replaced "predominant" with "markedly more common." There's no question that that is true.
Why don't you take a look at my suggestion in "phrasing of the prose section"? It's just a list of what the sources actually say. We can hardly go wrong with that. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:42, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
I made edits that your reverted and created an RFC for. No consensus has been reached and the source does indeed say that there is no standard spelling...and there isn't. I have been through this with you. I told you where the source states this (in the notes section) and you are simply edit warring now to have your way. Please us our DR process if you cannot live with this. I am done arguing.--Amadscientist (talk) 04:49, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
This is a book about theater arts, not a book about language. Books that are about language trump it. Show is best considered an example of what one theater professional believes, not an authoritative take on the meaning of the word. Words and their meanings are not the author's area of expertise.
And no you did not restore the original text. The original text is here. You restored your text. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:56, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
The original text, as in the text that was there before this whole rigamarole began, is now back in place, with one exception: I added italics around a book title, which is unquestionably an improvement. Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:00, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
Amad, you gave the following revert description: "This is where it was when before being reverted and the RFC begun. The article is returned to before it was reverted not to before that." I'm afraid that doesn't make sense. What are you talking about? The RfC was about the text of the prose section. The last change by Red Slash shows what that section looked like before you and I started fighting about it. If it has to go back to the original, then that is the original. Why would it go back to any other point in time? Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:28, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
I asked about this issue at the RfC talk page. Someone there will probably know what the rule is and how to identify the appropriate original version. Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:49, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
I asked at the admin noticeboard, and it seems that the rule is to revert to the last stable version. That would be the one from the Red Slash modification, not your version, not my version. If you want to talk about further changes, I've got some suggestions in "phrasing of the prose section." Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:05, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
"Last stable version" is defined at meta:The Wrong Version#Terminology. The essay WP:No consensus suggests completely removing disputed/no-consensus sections from policies and guidelines. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:51, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
One of the respondents to the RfC did suggest removing the contested material entirely, but this might cause problems. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:17, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
As advised by admin TP, the last stable version is back up. There's no question but that it could be improved upon, but frankly Amad, you and I should probably both float changes on the talk page before posting them up. If you want to work out a compromise text, I'm game. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:16, 31 March 2013 (UTC)

What about different spelling variants, calendar of little endian and middle endian, long and short scale on number on spellings???[edit]

I think it is clear that nobody understands what the issue is supposed to be here. Feel free to try again but please make sure you ask a specific question or clarify whatever point we aere supposed to absorb from this in language that can be understood. Thanks. Beeblebrox (talk) 18:46, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Different meaning of??


UK & Ireland:

-25 January 2012.

-Thousand Million years (almost obsolete/Chuquet) or Milliard years (Pelletier) - Thousand -illion, -illiard


South Africa: Same as UK...


New Zealand

Same as UK...



Same as UK...


Malaysia/Singapore/India/Hong Kong.

Same as UK... (uses Y/M/D in Chinese)



Same as UK... but different


United States/Philippines

- January 25, 2012, 25 January 2012 (not too common in the Philippines only!!)

- Billion years.


Obsolete (with ligatures)

UK & Ireland/South Africa/New Zealand/Australia(Australasia)/Malaysia/Singapore/India/Hong Kong/Canada:

-Praemium (never used)

-Parametre/Diametre (never used)

-Oeconomy (never used)

-Aeconomy (never used)

-Aesophagus (never used)

-Encyclopoedia (never used)

-Primoeval (never used)

-Programme (never used in computers in British spelling whatsoever)

-Shoppe (very rare usage for British spelling)

-Poediatrics (never used)

-Aegypt (never used)

-Oegypt (never used)

-Diarrhaea (never used)

-Artaefact or Artoefact (never used)

-Hoemophilla (never used)

-Poedophile/Poedophilia (never used)

-Personne (never used in English)

-Chambre (never used in English)

-Faetus (never used)

-Foeces (never used)

-Medioeval (never used)

-Proemium (never used)

-Reverce (never used)

-Pickaback (rare)

-Licencing/Licencee/Kinema (almost never used)

-Defencive/Offencive (never used)

-Cissy (rare var. of Sissy) (talk) 20:56, 2013/1/26 (UTC)

Please add more words that differ - not just in orthography[edit]

It might be useful to have one list of all differences between the English language variants, including vocabulary and orthography. It might usefully be in the Article namespace.

Here are examples of common differences that are currently omitted from this section:

Boot/Trunk (auto), Elevator/Lift, Petrol/Gasoline

I can't find a complete and reliable source for this on the Web, but it would be very useful. David Spector (talk) 16:38, 21 March 2013 (UTC)

Such things are covered in the article Comparison of American and British English. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:00, 25 March 2013 (UTC)


Wouldn't it make more sense to mention all variants in the intros of articles and then carry on using one consistent type of spelling or something? I don't think people feel too good about Wikipedia if it insists on not mentioning multiple spellings at least in article intros (for example in Child labour, or Organizational behavior)???? Hendrick 99 (talk) 18:58, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

This would make the intro pretty unwieldy. Taking your organizational behavior example, I know of two other variants: organisational behaviour and organizational behaviour. --NeilN talk to me 19:08, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
I concur. Most English speakers are generally aware of the spelling variants and the risk of confusion or misunderstanding is nearly nil. IMHO, as an encyclopaedia, Wikipedia discusses denotations of terms; it does not indulge in spelling-related research unless necessary to avoid confusion. kashmiri TALK 19:03, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
Hell no. Too many variants. WP:ENGVAR has been around forever, and discussed until well after the cows have come home (✉→BWilkins←✎) 10:56, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

Misspelling of "publicly"[edit]

Should Wikipedia have a guideline about "publically" for "publicly"? Background information is at Wikipedia talk:AutoWikiBrowser/Typos#Misspelling of "publicly" (version of 16:01, 22 July 2013).
Wavelength (talk) 16:32, 22 July 2013 (UTC)

I am not convinced this is an error rather than a legitimate variant. The revised OED 3rd edition (2007) has a (shorter) entry for "publically", noted as the same meaning as "publicly" but without making any statement deprecating it. Citations are as recent as 1998, contemporary with their citations for "publicly". Andrew Gray (talk) 22:14, 22 July 2013 (UTC)
I find that bizarre, to say the least. That being the case, it's certainly only been recognised recently. Earlier editions don't acknowledge "publically" in any shape or form. If you refer to their free site, you'll find that it is still listed under Common misspellings and is still corrected on the 'publicly' definition entry itself. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 23:16, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
Isn't there a guideline that a generally accepted spelling should be used rather than a disputed one, in the absence of clear differences between countries? "Publicly" is definitely correct and recognised; "publically" is not universally accepted and likely to be disputed or warred about. Similar to pleaded/pled, dived/dove. Pol098 (talk) 22:55, 2 June 2017 (UTC)
It was in the supplement in 1982, the 1989 second edition as well as the 2007 third edition (talk) 08:54, 17 October 2017 (UTC)

When did the Macquarie Dictionary become the standard for encyclopaedic articles for Australian English?[edit]

I'm getting extremely peeved about the use of the Macquarie Dictionary as the be all and end all of Australian spelling. Other countries, like France for instance, may have dedicated bodies ratifying the correct and incorrect spelling of their language on a yearly basis... Australia does not. Please see this article as an example of the fact that various media institutions, universities, government bodies have their own style manuals for writing articles and which may or may not use the Macquarie Dictionary, dependent on who or what they are.

There's just been a quibble over the spelling of jail/gaol in the MOS. It appears that, at some point, someone has misrepresented the Macquarie as being held in the same regard as The Oxford Dictionary for the UK, or the Merriam-Webster in the US. In tertiary institutions, the Macquarie is only recommended as the spelling guide for courses in journalism on the understanding that, on working for the media, journalists will adhere to the style guide for the institution they write for. Please feel free to check the Go8 site. With regards to the writing of an essay, MA, thesis or encyclopaedic article, The Australian Oxford Dictionary is favoured.

Therefore, while 'jail' may be used more often in the popular media, schools and government bodies still use 'gaol' as the correct form of the word. Appropriate versions of The Australian Oxford Dictionary are often listed as the primary resource for both primary and secondary schools. Ultimately, that means that either variant of the spelling of jail/gaol is acceptable in Australian English.

Considering that The Australian Oxford Dictionary is the dictionary of choice for tertiary level writing, why is the Macquarie being promoted as being THE MOS spelling standard for encyclopaedic entries in Australian English when it isn't the standard in Australia? --Iryna Harpy (talk) 06:28, 28 September 2013 (UTC)

Well that is just nonsense. The Macquarie Dictionary has been the 'be all and end all' of Australian English spelling for many years and as far as spelling is concerned is complied with more uniformly by far than the Oxford in the UK for example. Look at any federal or state government legislation and there will be a note at the beginning saying that any remaining old spelling is changed with every amendment/reprint to comply with Macquarie. Likewise it has been held by the high court that the Macquarie is to be used to find the ordinary meaning of words within Australia. ABC uses it, all major universities use it as their standard. Same with all newspapers. Spellings like 'programme' and 'gaol' in any serious context where spelling or style is important such as government (take a look at some govt style manuals), publishing, university academic writing, media, etc etc is an absolute no-no today in Australia. At any rate some people in every country will use peculiar variants ie 'connexion' but this article is about finding the common usage in that country. There is no doubt that 'jail' etc far, far outweigh 'gaol'. There is even less doubt (ie none) that the Macquarie is the pre-eminent reference for spelling in Australia being as close to universal as it's possible to get. Saruman-the-white (talk) 12:22, 29 September 2013 (UTC)
You've completely ignored the fact that I am discussing encyclopaedic content and articles, not journalistic articles.
1. The ABC conforms to the Macquarie as it is in the context of reportage, NOT of an encyclopaedic standard.
2. Hansard is a reportage tool for Parliament.
3. Which form of 'publishing' are you referring to? Fiction or scholarly texts?
4. I have already addressed the issue of university standards, contradicting what you are claiming. There are specific guidelines per area of specialisation which do NOT conform to the Macquarie.
5. Many Australia-specific entries/articles in English Wikipedia are encyclopaedic and most definitely not 'reportage' entries;
6. You will need to expand the MOS list to include 'programming' as the preferred spelling as the entry for computer program and training program would imply that programming is spelled programing. In fact, according to Webster's for the US, either is correct. That now needs to be added to the MOS for the US.
7. According to the Merriam-Webster, 'publically' is now an acceptable form of 'publicly' (better update MOS to reflect that for the US).
8. Focussed has become 'focused' according to the Macquarie (this has happened within the last decade, usurping the Australian standard of many, many years), so you'll need to enter it into the MOS for the benefit of a vast number of Australian contributors who probably still aren't aware of this 'fact'.
Wonderful! I'm certainly not looking forward to seeing what 'standerdiyzd' English in any English speaking country will look like within a few years if the mass media (mainly coz ov da internets) continues at the pace these shifts in spelling are accepted by major dictionaries. It's all beginning to look like Middle English to me. You'd better keep consulting your online Macquarie (hope you can afford the subscription fees), Saruman-the-white, as the spellings of many of the words in any articles you've written or contributed to are probably already obsolete. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 22:42, 29 September 2013 (UTC)
So now there are separate 'journalistic' and 'encyclopedic' standards for spelling even within the same country? Well if what you say is true, and that there are certain guidelines within certain research projects at certain universities (but not the universities themselves or the vast majority of faculties) as opposed to the overwhelming weight of sources using Macquarie as the standard for spelling, then you can't claim that these are the preferred variants. The spellings listed by the Macquarie Dictionary (which I don't even particularly like) are recommended almost universally Australia-wide and as this article merely outlines the most common, widespread spelling of a word, there is nothing wrong with what is here. In any case these are not hardfast rules, they are a guide (eg for British people who might not know of an accepted spelling of a word when writing for an article in eg Canadian English). There was never going to be any way that we could list every acceptable variant anyway, merely the most widespread one that people could use when editing an article that would be the most widely accepted in that country. The overwhelming weight of sources, educational institutions, etc in Australia specify the spellings of the Macquarie Dictionary to an extent that is certainly more uniform than either the Oxford Dictionary in the UK or Merriam Webster's in the US. As such it goes without saying that these spellings, being the most widely accepted, are listed. On another note, if you check the usage note for 'focused', you will find that it is precisely because 'focussed' fell out of favour and became less common that 'focused', being more widespread, was listed by the Macquarie. Indeed, even the British Oxford Dictionary lists 'focused' see --Saruman-the-white (talk) 23:46, 29 September 2013 (UTC)
Do you work at a university? Have you ever worked in a university? Have you ever written a non-undergraduate article for a university publication? --Iryna Harpy (talk) 01:11, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
You are making my point for me. Even if, as I very much doubt given the general strong preference for the Macquarie Dictionary in Australian universities, every university recommended the Australian Oxford Dictionary for 'non-undergraduate articles for university publications', this is still such a minuscule component that it hardly challenges the fact that the Macquarie dictionary (which I don't even like much myself anyway) is by a million miles the most widely accepted standard in Australia. Further, looking at the Oxford one, it favours the same spellings almost every time too (encyclopedia, jail, etc)....... --Saruman-the-white (talk) 03:03, 5 October 2013 (UTC)
'Favouring' (sic) is not the same as precluding. The fact remains that it is duplicitous to represent the spelling of 'jail' as being the only acceptable spelling of 'jail/gaol' for the MOS Australian entry. Both versions ought to be depicted as both are still in use. The favoured spelling, being jail, only came into vogue outside of the mass media over the last few decades. Gaol was certainly alive and well until relatively recently, aside from newspapers, and IS still being taught and used, hence the MOS should reflect that, even if the Macquarie deems it to be "fossilized", it should also be represented.
If nothing else, you've certainly provided a fascinating insight into current Australian literacy levels and ability to present a coherent argument. I'm deeply impressed by spelling now being quantified in terms of, "by a million miles the most widely accepted standard..." Mixed(-up) mixed metaphors would undoubtedly enhance the readers' comprehension, particularly if their English is weak in the first instance.
Incidentally, I do feel compelled to point out that your understanding (or lack thereof) of punctuation is abysmal. It must be a terrible challenge trying to read a novel by Charles Dickens. Oh, yes, I have spent years living with the pressure of teaching students to write in sentences of fifteen words or less and it has nothing to do with assisting them in being succinct but, rather, the by-product of not being versed in apposition or any other fundamental comprehension of clauses, phrases or any other rules surrounding punctuation. Sad. Very, very sad. I wonder at why you are so obsessed with spelling when the bare bones of grammar and expression elude you. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 00:14, 6 October 2013 (UTC)

Diacritical marks in English words taken from the French language[edit]

Resolved: See table below Chris the speller yack 18:34, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

I find no English dictionaries that use diacritical marks in their spelling of "clientele", "hotelier" and "discotheque", yet a few editors insist on "clientèle", "hôtelier" and "discothèque", claiming that they are valid English words. They sure look like French words to me. Besides causing inconsistency, a downside of using the diacritical marks is that it defeats the use of a browser's "find" function to find, for example, "discotheque" within an article. Am I looking in the wrong English dictionaries? Chris the speller yack 16:45, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

Notwithstanding MoS overrides, for British English the definitive reference is the Oxford English Dictionary, I think. Thus:
  1. clientèle / clienteleOED has only clientele
  2. hôtelier / hotelierOED prefers hotelier (has hôtelier as an alternate form)
  3. discothèque / discothequeOED prefers discothèque (has discotheque as an alternate spelling)
I hope that helps. Besides British English, I suppose Canadian English may have a higher adherence to the original French, than other English dialects. (NB: Google Chrome's 'find' is diacritic impartial.)   – Ian, DjScrawl (talk) 20:29, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for that. So it appears that "clientele" is the way to go for American and British English. American spelling should be "hotelier", while either way is OK in British English, but is usually without the circumflex. American spelling should be "discotheque", while either way is OK in British English, but is usually with the grave accent. Editors in the UK may be surprised to hear that access to the full OED is not available to the vast majority of Americans; I live in a municipality with a population of about 50,000 whose library has only a rather dated Compact OED. So American editors usually have to take a UK editor's word on faith in cases like this. Thanks for looking these up. Chris the speller yack 00:24, 5 November 2013 (UTC) or just look it up here--Saruman-the-white (talk) 00:31, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

The Oxford English Dictionary and Oxford Dictionaries Online (excerpt)
This site ( is not the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). You’ll find the OED at You’ll need a subscription to use the OED fully. You may be able to use theOED at home through your local public library ...
  "The Oxford English Dictionary - Oxford Dictionaries Online". Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
Just? Wat? That's not the OED!   – Ian, DjScrawl (talk) 00:51, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
On double-checking Merriam, I see that it allows "discothèque" as a variant spelling. So we have:
Spelling American English British English
clientele Yes
clientèle No
hotelier Yes Yes (preferred)
hôtelier No Yes
discotheque Yes (preferred) Yes
discothèque Yes Yes (preferred)
Chris the speller yack 18:34, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

Protester or protestor?[edit] states that all major news sources' style guides prefer the spelling 'protester'. I couldn't find a prior discussion here. I'd like to know if this should be corrected. — Brianhe (talk) 17:28, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

That's according to an MoS for a newspaper. Even if it is used commonly by other newspapers, it does not make it 'the' one and only acceptable spelling. It would also depend on whether articles are US specific. Are you asking whether this is purportedly the only 'correct' spelling across the board for all English-speaking nations? As an example, it certainly isn't with regards to either journalism or publications in Australia. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 05:52, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Advice on American English usage?[edit]

I'm working on a featured article candidate at the moment and have run into a couple of issues about American English usage, which I hope someone here might be able to advise on. Specifically:

  • When referring to a public toilet, is "bathroom" the preferred term?
  • Is it redundant to talk about "diners and restaurants"? - i.e. are diners synonymous with restaurants? Prioryman (talk) 21:33, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
    • Using "public toilet" is clear, but would not commonly be used in spoken English in the US. The term "restroom" would probably be used for one in a public place (a park, restaurant or theatre), but "bathroom" would be used for one in a residence (private home or hotel), where a bathtub might also be found.
    • The average "diner" is smaller and less formal than the average "restaurant", so "diners and restaurants" is not redundant in all cases. But the term "restaurant" for a class of establishments can include diners, so one might say "It is cheaper to cook at home than to eat in a restaurant", which would be understood to include diners; here, it would not be helpful to say "diners and restaurants".
    • A better place to ask these questions is at WP:RD/L (Reference desk/Language). Chris the speller yack 15:01, 16 December 2013 (UTC)

alright vs all right[edit]

Why is "alright" even listed as a Canadian spelling when the Canadian Oxfored listed it as nothing but a disputed spelling of "all right?" I don't think it should be in the table, let alone listed as the most common spelling. I don't have the American and Australian refs, but they shoudl be checked too. Meters (talk) 04:54, 24 April 2014 (UTC)

In the United States, "all right" is used more than "alright" ("alright". Merriam-Webster. It [alright] is less frequent than all right but remains common especially in informal writing. ) The New York Time style is "all right" (Paul Krugman (October 19, 2009). "All right? Not alright, if you ask me". The New York Times. ) —Anomalocaris (talk) 08:06, 5 January 2015 (UTC)

The first US entry should be "all right" then to show it is the preferred spelling. And since Wikipedia is not "informal writing" it might even be better to simply remove "alright." Any Australian (or otherwise knowledgeable) wikipedians out there to comment on their country's usage? Meters (talk) 19:28, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
@Iryna Harpy and 97198: Would either of you be willing to help us figure this out? Sock (tock talk) 19:54, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
The 2011 Macquarie dictionary (I don't subscribe to the online version) only has an entry as 'all right', offering no alternative spelling. Nevertheless, unless it is used in the written form in a novel, newspaper, publication of any form (in which case, according to WP:MOS, it should be reproduced as it is written in said publication), I don't see any circumstances under which it should be used in an encyclopaedic resource. 'All right'/'alright' would be dependent on the context. Ultimately, it's the vernacular usage of 'all will be well', or 'all will be right with the world'. The use of all right/alright in a Wikipedia article should be a moot point. It's parallel to asking someone how they are and eliciting the response, "I'm good, thanks." That's a common colloquial response, but is grammatically incorrect. The response should be, "I'm well, thanks."
If it isn't a direct quote where the publication will indicate the spelling, it shouldn't be used. If the expression is used in an audio only format, the lead should be taken from the context: i.e., casual dialogue where the words are obviously run together would translate into 'alright'.
I realise that this doesn't resolve the issue, but it appears to be one in dispute in all English speaking countries. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 00:14, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
There is nothing grammatically incorrect about "I'm good, thanks." Here, "well" would refer to one's state of health; "good" could refer to other things such as feelings, lack of pain, discomfort, hunger, or anxiety. "Good" is a perfectly good predicate adjective. "I'm good" could be also short for "I'm feeling good." —Anomalocaris (talk) 02:45, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
From what I can find online and in my Canadian refs, the use of "alright" is increasing, but still lags "all right", and most of the one word use is in informal writing (and may be objected to or considered incorrect). I was comfortable changing the Canadian listing but I didn't want to touch the others without some input. It seems that US and Australian usage agrees that "alright" is not generallyused in formal writing. Since Wikipedia should not be written in informal language and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Spelling concerns what should be used in Wikipedia rather than what is used elsewhere, we should eliminate "alright" from the US and Australian sections too. Meters (talk) 03:01, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
I agree, "alright" shouldn't be used in English Wikipedia except in quotations, song titles, etc. —Anomalocaris (talk) 04:01, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Thirding. I don't see a real benefit to keeping an incorrect spelling at worst and an informal one at best. Sock (tock talk) 14:21, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

Hm, if we change both US and Australian to just "all right" then all the country's entries are identical and there would seem to be no need have the "all right" line at all. Do wee need a footnote to mention that the informal "alright" should not be used in Wikipedia?
The problem seems to me to be that the table is trying to do two things at once. It can show the preferred Wikipedia usage, or it can show the various accepted uses in each country. Since this is a manual of style my view is that it should be telling us which spelling we should use. The only way to do both is to list the various spellings but state that only the first should be used in Wikipedia. This is the issue in next thread, started by User:Chris the speller. Meters (talk) 18:01, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

I'd dispute 'all right' being the UK spelling, seems to be an anachronism to me. Standard use is 'alright' and has been since at least the 70s. (talk) 12:32, 28 August 2015 (UTC)

Preferred variants[edit]

The MoS has a section "Preferred variants" that says "most of the time one variant is preferred over the other". OK, I agree, and can usually tell when one variant is preferred over another. But what to do about it? Is it permissible to change a rarely used variant to the preferred variant? Why do we even have such a section in the MoS if does not provide any guidance? Chris the speller yack 00:11, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

Chris the speller: Where is that? — Anomalocaris (talk) 04:52, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
@Anomalocaris: It's in the MoS page that this talk page is attached to: WP:MOSS#Preferred variants.

"canceled" and "cancelled"[edit]

Can "cancelled" be added as part of American English? It accepts both spellings of cancelled. --George Ho (talk) 19:33, 25 December 2014 (UTC)

It doesn't appear to be the norm, even if the double 'l' is used occasionally. As I'm Australian, I wouldn't feel confident in giving advice as to whether the majority of American-English editors would recognise it as being correct. On the other hand, for the purposes of finding as many instances of commonality, I'd consider it to be desirable. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 00:35, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
While it may accept "cancelled", it's pretty clear that "canceled" is the preferred wording, and having some unity in this would be better than ambiguity. We don't want AmEng articles being inconsistent in themselves, and that's what would happen. In terms of counter-examples, if you take a look at this Grammarist page and its American news sources towards the bottom, reputable publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune use one L. As recent as a few weeks ago, and in relation to The Interview (the catalyst for this discussion, if I'm not mistaken), the NY Times used one L when referring to its cancellation. I think that adding the double L as being acceptable is counter-productive, as while not explicitly incorrect, the single L is both preferred and more frequent in the case of American English.
Extra note: Also relating to The Interview, the article should definitely keep a single L per MOS:RETAIN, regardless of the outcome here. Sock (tock talk) 12:35, 30 December 2014 (UTC)
Considering that I can't actually ever recalled encountering 'canceled' spelt with a double 'l' in American English, I would agree with Sock as to MOS:RETAIN. Naturally, the fact that I use 'spelt' rather than 'spelled' is indicative of my preference for longer established usages of spelling conventions I've used for decades. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 04:45, 31 December 2014 (UTC)

Cheque and Check[edit]

I'm surprised the list doesn't include Cheque/Check. Antoniomagni (talk) 16:29, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

Underway vs. under way[edit]

Shouldn't we write this as two words (under way) normally, and with one word (underway) only when it is an adjective preceding its noun (like: "The underway trip was cancelled.")? Or what is the preferred style in Wikipedia? This page does not address this. (don't talk secrets) (talk) 15:26, 8 April 2015 (UTC)

@(don't talk secrets): Some dictionaries use one spelling, some use the other. has "underway" for American English, also allowing "under way", while it has the preference reversed for British English. says "underway", but says never to use it before the noun. I would say "The trip that was underway was cancelled." Since major dictionaries allow both forms, we can't have Wikipedia choosing one. Heck, we can't even get Wikipedia to outlaw "publically". If you see an article where both spellings are used, determine which form appeared first in that article, and then change the other one. Chris the speller yack 04:25, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks! That was useful advice. It may indeed be best to only fix this when it is applied inconsistently within an article. (don't talk secrets) (talk) 09:52, 15 April 2015 (UTC)

Harbour vs harbor[edit]

In the Battle_of_York entry, harbour has been changed to harbor. When not referring to a proper name, is there a Wiki rule of thumb? TIA  Natty10000 | Natter  13:52, 13 April 2015 (UTC)

Yes, WP:ENGVAR and WP:RETAIN. Given the battle was fought in Canada and the Canadian spelling is the same as the British that's what should be used. -- Necrothesp (talk) 15:34, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
Many thanks. I assumed as much but didn't want to start what could turn into an edit war. :)  Natty10000 | Natter  15:59, 13 April 2015 (UTC)

Dubious Australian spellings[edit]

I was a little surprised to find "encyclopedia" and "diarrhea" listed as accepted Australian spellings, and doubly surprised that the former is actually listed before "encyclopaedia"! Unfortunately I can't check the citation, as I don't have the online Macquarie or an up-to-date paper version. (For what little it's worth, my old budget Macquarie doesn't list either spelling, even as variants.) Can someone check it out?

And while I'm not interested in arguing the question from further up the page, about whether the Macquarie should be the referenced standard for Australian, if it turns out that they do endorse "encyclopedia" and "diarrhea", I might just become interested... (That's not a "how dare they change my beloved spelling" complaint, by the way. It's an "I seriously don't believe that that's a true description of accepted Australian usage" complaint.) -- Perey (talk) 13:20, 13 July 2015 (UTC)

Encyclopedia is listed as the primary variant in the Macquarie and always has been (in the Oxford dictionary as well). Diarrhea, however, is most certainly not.--Saruman-the-white (talk) 01:40, 30 August 2015 (UTC)

No, 1981 Macquarie (all that's to hand at the moment) lists Encyclopaedia, with "also Encyclopedia" near the end of the entry after the definition. The entry is "diarrhoea" with "also diarrhea". Sminthopsis84 (talk) 14:37, 10 March 2016 (UTC)
I dispute the instancing of "sulfur" as an alternative to "sulphur" in Australia. It is, with "aluminum", one of the few American variants positively eschewed in this country. And "kerb" and "curb" have different meanings here: 'kerb" (noun) as an edge of a footpath and "curb" to restrict or restrain. Doug butler (talk) 06:03, 28 May 2017 (UTC)
I concur. I'd like to see this usage in WP:RS: and by RS, I don't mean a couple of tabloids notorious for their lack of proof reading and inadvertent Americanisms. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 21:12, 28 May 2017 (UTC)
Proof reading, yes. EEng 21:58, 28 May 2017 (UTC)


Should spelled (AmE) and spelt (BrE) be included here? Similarly dreamed/dreamt, although I expect that word's use would not be that common. Bazonka (talk) 08:39, 1 November 2015 (UTC)

I think the spelled/spelt difference should be included, but both dreamed and dreamt are used in the U.S.  – Corinne (talk) 13:07, 7 March 2016 (UTC)
Any idea how spelled/spelt is spelled/spelt in Australia, NZ, Canada and SA? I don't have access to the necessary dictionaries. Bazonka (talk) 15:34, 7 March 2016 (UTC)
The Macquarie Dictionary (Australian English) lists dreamed, dreamt, spelled, spelt as all acceptable, with no preferences. Microsoft Word's dictionary for Canadian English also accepts all four (but perhaps it has spelt in mind). Sminthopsis84 (talk) 14:24, 8 March 2016 (UTC)
Spelt (the spelling version as well as the grain) is in the Canadian Oxford, but it's certainly not very common, at least in my experience. I can't remember ever noticing its use. Meters (talk) 05:37, 9 March 2016 (UTC)
Canadian spelling has so many double l's, that I expect that people opt for "spelled" for consistency. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 17:11, 9 March 2016 (UTC)


Why is "grey" listed as a spelling used in the U.S.? I've always seen it spelled as "gray", and we were specifically taught that "gray" was the correct spelling in the U.S. I think if the "grey" spelling is used, it is an import or an affectation.  – Corinne (talk) 13:10, 7 March 2016 (UTC)

The OED, as far as I can tell (the OED is sooooo complicated), lists both forms for both Am. and Br. usage. In general with stuff like this, just write what you think is correct, and later some knowitall will come along and make it what he thinks is right. It's not usually worth worrying about. EEng 18:43, 31 October 2016 (UTC)
I'm American and use "grey". Gray is a surname.  :-/  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  09:18, 17 October 2017 (UTC)

Gage vs gauge- Canada?[edit]

I need help, we are debating whether gage or gauge is more appropriate under a Canadian wiki page. The context is "To gage/gauge interest and help determine..." Hawkeye75 (talk) 07:44, 28 July 2016 (UTC)

"Gauge" per the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Meters (talk) 07:34, 26 August 2016 (UTC)

English spelling comparison chart[edit]

Can we add fulfil (Br. Eng.)/fulfill (Amer. Eng.) and enrol/enroll to the English Spelling Comparison Chart?  – Corinne (talk) 22:58, 24 October 2016 (UTC)

WP:BEBOLD. EEng 18:38, 31 October 2016 (UTC)
fulfil is already there, but follow the advice of the inestimable EEng and boldly add enrol. Robevans123 (talk) 18:49, 31 October 2016 (UTC)


Could someone tell me the correct British English spelling corresponding to American English "emphasize"? Is it "emphasise" or "emphasize"? I don't recall seeing "emphasise" anywhere.  – Corinne (talk) 17:27, 31 October 2016 (UTC)

British emphasise, American emphasize [22]. In general Am. uses -ize, Br. uses -ise (but British usage is mixed on this, I should add). EEng 18:30, 31 October 2016 (UTC)
(after edit clash) "Emphasise" is regarded by many dictionaries as the usual UK English spelling, see here for an example. It is one of those words where the American spelling is gaining ground. I (as a UK english writer) tend to use "emphasize", but would not change "emphasise" if I came across it in an article. A search for "emphasise" on Wikipedia alone produces more than 9,000 results. Robevans123 (talk) 18:43, 31 October 2016 (UTC)
Depends on what you mean by "British", too. Oxford University Press favours -ize (for words that have that variant, which some don't, e.g. advertise). See Oxford spelling.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  09:17, 17 October 2017 (UTC)


I think honor/honour should be added to the table, but I don't have easy access to all the relevant dictionaries to check its various regional uses. I know that "honor" is the standard US spelling and that "honour" is the standard UK/commonwealth spelling but what I'm less sure of is which if any regions should list the other spelling as an acceptable alternative. Any suggestions for how to proceed? —David Eppstein (talk) 00:50, 1 November 2016 (UTC)

A list of word variations and the region they pertain to would be nice. American and British are pretty straight forward but how does Canada or other English regions spell honor ? - Mlpearc (open channel) 01:06, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
Canadian = "honour" as with all of the other or/our words. Strangely, Canadians sometimes also keep the u in "honourary", which no-one else does. The most common spelling in Canada in "honorary" which is the only spelling elsewhere. Meters (talk) 01:20, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
@Meters: Thank you for confirming that a reference list of spelling and uses would be a net possitive for many users :) - Mlpearc (open channel) 16:24, 1 November 2016 (UTC)

Does Wikipedia allow *any* spelling variant? / Consistency of spelling within the same article[edit]

1) This article explains that there are lots of spelling variants. But it says nothing about which are recommended. Does this mean that a Wikipedia editor can use any spelling that they prefer? I'm not suggesting that Wikipedia specify preferred spellings. Just that this article should be clearer on what's permissible, or recommended.

2) I would think that there should be some guideline for consistency within a single article. So:

(a) Is it really permissible to have both British and American spellings within the same article?

(b) Even if so, it seems odd to allow a single word to be spelled in different ways within the same article. For example, is it really permissible for an article to have both "color" and "colour" within the same article? Or "organization" and "organisation"? Omc (talk) 01:28, 15 November 2016 (UTC)

MOS:ARTCON. EEng 01:47, 15 November 2016 (UTC)
Thanks. But shouldn't that guideline (consistency within an article) be referenced within this article? It seems relevant here. Omc (talk)
(This isn't an "article" BTW.) Well, making every guideline page self-contained is a hopeless quest, and consistency within any one article is a general principle that applies throughout MOS, not just to spelling. But feel free to boldly add something here expressing that. EEng 02:40, 15 November 2016 (UTC)

Two or more non-regional spellings[edit]

Hi, I'm looking for the Wikipedia guideline on words that have two or more common spelling variants that are not regional. As far as I remember it said that Wikipedia should not prefer one over the other if both were common in the sources, but should reflect the sources by allowing editors to use both. Can anyone direct me to where that guideline is? Thanks. --Bermicourt (talk) 09:25, 17 January 2017 (UTC)

The simplest approach, most of the time, is probably to consult multiple dictionaries (from multiple places) and use whichever the majority of them list as the main spelling. But be aware of terms of art – some spellings are exclusively used in particular fields, or may even make a difference between meanings. E.g. provenance and provenience have distinct meanings in archaeology, paleontology, and related fields, even though treated as synonymous variants of the same word by some dictionaries. Hanged and hung have different meanings (if you're executed by hanging, you're hanged, while the picture on your wall is hung). And so on. Remember that dictionaries are extremely generalist and short-definition works that provide little in the way of depth or nuance.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  09:24, 17 October 2017 (UTC)