Center or Centre – What is Correct?

TL;DR – Both “center” and “centre” are correct, but their usage depends on the variant of English. In American English, “center” is the standard spelling, while in British English (as well as other forms like Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand English), “centre” is the preferred spelling.

Especially or Specially

Center vs. Centre: Delving into Linguistic Varieties

Language, as a medium of communication, exhibits fascinating intricacies, reflecting historical, geographical, and cultural influences. One such nuance, which becomes apparent when comparing American English and British English, is the spelling of certain words. The “center” vs. “centre” debate epitomizes this divergence and is a topic of keen interest for linguists and learners of the English language alike.

1. The British-American Dichotomy:
A core factor behind the distinct spelling of “center” and “centre” lies in the divide between British and American English.

  • Center:
  • Usage: This spelling is entrenched in American English.
  • Example: The medical center in America offers state-of-the-art facilities.
  • Centre:
  • Usage: This variant resonates with British English and has been adopted by other English-speaking regions, notably Canada and India.
  • Example: The research centre in the United Kingdom is spearheading groundbreaking studies.

2. Tracing Linguistic Roots:
Historical linguistics offers insights into the genesis of these spellings. Both “center” and “centre” are derivatives of the Latin word “centrum” and the Greek word “kentron,” meaning a point equidistant from the boundaries of a circle, or a middle point. British English, influenced by French linguistics, embraced “centre,” while American English, with Noah Webster’s push for simplified spellings, veered towards “center.”

3. Beyond Borders:
The choice between “center” and “centre” transcends mere geography:

  • Idiomatic Usage: Phrases like “centre of attention” in British English and “center of attention” in American English reflect this distinction.
  • Institutional Preferences: Brands or institutions might lean towards a particular spelling. A company with origins in the United Kingdom might use “centre,” even if its primary operations extend to America.

4. A Larger Linguistic Canvas:
The “center/centre” divergence is but a fragment of the extensive lexicon that varies between American and British English. Other notable examples include “color/colour,” “favor/favour,” and “traveler/traveller.” Such variations, while sometimes perplexing, enrich the tapestry of the English language.

5. Practical Guidance:
For writers, authors, and scholars, especially those referencing style guides like MLA or APA, understanding your target audience is paramount. American readers might find “center” more relatable, while “centre” would resonate with a British or Canadian audience.

The “center” vs. “centre” conundrum underscores the beauty of the English language’s adaptability and evolution. Neither spelling is inherently superior or more “correct” than the other. Instead, the choice pivots on regional predilections, context, and intended audience. Whether penning a literary piece or engaging in casual conversation, acknowledging and respecting these linguistic nuances facilitates clearer and more effective communication.


  • Is it center or centre in Canada?

Published on: 2023-10-05
Updated on: 2023-10-05

Avatar for Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands is the SEO Director at SEO North, a company that provides Search Engine Optimization services. As an SEO Professional, Isaac has considerable expertise in On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and Technical SEO, which gives him a leg up against the competition.