Appal Or Appall – British English vs. American English

20.05.24 British English vs. American English Time to read: 3min

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Maintaining consistency is a crucial part of academic writing to ensure clarity and logical flow. Nonetheless, numerous students struggle with distinguishing between British English vs. American English, especially when determining the correct spelling of words like “appal” or “appall.” This confusion can lead to misunderstandings. For a more profound understanding of these two English variants, continue reading.

“Appal” or “Appall”

“Appal” and “appall” are two variants of the same word, with “appal” being the British English spelling, and “appall” being the American English spelling. Both terms are used as verbs conveying a meaning of “to shock” or “to greatly disturb” someone. Although both spellings are correct, the selection of one or the other must be based on one’s regional or stylistic preferences.


British English



American English


In British English, and most English-speaking countries, the more common spelling is “appal”. In comparison, in American English, the more common spelling is “appall” where the L is doubled. Thus, both variants are correct, yet, consistency is key to successful writing.

Examples of using “appal” and “appall” as a verb

The following example sentences will illustrate the difference in the spelling of the verb “appal/appall” in British and American English.

  • British English: Appal
  • American English: Appall
  • It is tragic to see such cruelty, and to appal those who witness it.
  • The director’s goal is to appal viewers with the reality of poverty.
  • His actions were intended to appal and intimidate his opponents.
  • It is tragic to see such cruelty, and to appall those who witness it.
  • The director’s goal is to appall viewers with the reality of poverty.
  • His actions were intended to appall and intimidate his opponents.


There are several exceptions where British and the American English share one spelling. When something is described as “appalling,” it means that it causes strong feelings of shock, horror, or disgust. The spelling of this adjective is shared, as well as the verb’s past form “appalled,” and the gerund “appalling.”

“Appal” or “appall” in the “-ed” form

The past tense or past participle form of “appal” or “appall” is “appalled” in the respective English variant.

  • British English: Appalled
  • American English: Appalled
  • She was appalled by his insensitive remark.
  • I was appalled at the chaos in the restaurant.
  • They were appalled to see the car’s damage.

“Appal” or “appall” in the “-ing” form

The “-ing” form of the verb, also called gerund and present participle, “appal/appall” is “appalling”.

  • British English: Appalling
  • American English: Appalling
  • Appalling the audience was not his intention.
  • The inaction to fix the issue was appalling.
  • The news of the scandal was appalling.


In America, “appall” is more common, and in other English-speaking countries, you use “appal.”

“Appal” is a verb, that means to greatly shock, dismay, or horrify someone.

While the British English version of the verb is “appal,” “appalling” with a double L is used in both British and American English.

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