Color or Colour? – What is Correct?

TL;DR – “Color” is American English. “Colour” is British English and is also used in Canada.

Especially or Specially

Color or Colour? A Dive into the Shades of English Spelling

The English language, as vibrant and ever-evolving as the hues of a rainbow, often presents us with dilemmas rooted in its historical, geographical, and cultural evolution. One such classic conundrum is the spelling of the word for the characteristic of objects produced by the light they reflect: is it “color” or “colour”?

The Roots of the Word: A Latin Beginning

The word, whether spelled as “color” or “colour”, traces its origins back to Latin. The Latin word “color” was adopted into Old French as “colur”, which then evolved into “colour” in Middle English.

American English vs. British English

The spelling “color” is the preferred spelling in American English. Why? The credit (or blame, depending on your perspective) largely goes to one influential American lexicographer, Noah Webster. In the early 19th century, Webster released his dictionary, which aimed to simplify and Americanize certain English words. “Color” was one such word that was stripped of its “u”, aligning with the aim to make American English spelling more phonetic.

On the other side of the pond, in the United Kingdom and many other English-speaking countries that were part of the British Commonwealth, the British spelling “colour” held sway. This included nations like Canada and Australia, although there are exceptions. For instance, Canadian English occasionally wavers between the British and American spelling conventions.

The Spread and Acceptance: More than just the UK and USA

It’s important to note that the spelling differences aren’t exclusively confined to America and Britain. In many Commonwealth countries, the British spelling “colour” is standard. Australia, for instance, follows the British lead in this regard.

However, Canada presents an interesting case. While “colour” is the officially accepted form in Canadian English, the proximity and influence of the USA mean that “color” is also widely seen and accepted.

Modern Standards: APA, MLA, and Proofreading

Modern writing often adheres to style guides, and these can further influence the spelling one might encounter. The American Psychological Association (APA) and the Modern Language Association (MLA), both dominant style guides in the USA, for example, based in New York, use the American spelling “color”.

Idioms, Expressions, and Nuances

The influence of these different spellings also seeps into idioms and expressions. While the core word remains a term for pigment or hue, its spelling can change the feel or authenticity of certain phrases depending on the audience.

A Global Language with Local Colors

In today’s interconnected world, both spellings are widely recognized, thanks to global communication and the internet. However, when writing for a specific audience, it’s still crucial to consider regional preferences. Proofreading remains an essential step, ensuring that a consistent style is maintained, be it UK English with its “colour” or US English with “color”.

In conclusion, neither “color” nor “colour” is universally “correct”. Like many English words that have alternate spellings, the choice often comes down to audience, tradition, and personal or organizational preference. Whether you’re polishing an article for a British audience or drafting a note in Spanish-influenced American regions, the English language, in all its rich hues and shades, offers flexibility and choice, making it as dynamic and diverse as the people who speak it.


  • Is it color or colour in Canada?

Published on: 2023-10-06
Updated on: 2023-10-09

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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.