Honour Or Honor – British English vs. American English

15.01.24 British English vs. American English Time to read: 4min

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Consistency is crucial in academic writing, as it ensures that the work is logical and straightforward. However, many students struggle to differentiate between British English vs. American English, which can lead to confusion when trying to determine the correct spelling of certain words, such as “honour” or “honor.” If you want to improve your understanding of these two versions of English, please continue reading.

“Honour” or “honor”

The word “honour/honor” functions as both a noun and a verb. As a noun, the word means high respect, esteem, or distinction; adherence to what is right or to a conventional standard of conduct. As a verb, it means to regard or treat with respect; to fulfill or keep an obligation or promise.

There is a slight spelling difference between British English and American English. In the first English variant, you’d write it “honour,” while Americans prefer the spelling “honor,” without an “u.” While both spellings are correct, your choice between them must depend on the regional or stylistic preferences.

British English

honour

American English

honor

In British English, the more common spelling is “honour” for both the noun and the verb. In American English, the more common spelling is “honor” for the noun and “honor” for the verb.

Examples of using “honour” and “honor” as a verb

The following examples will illustrate the difference in the spelling of the verb “honour/honor” in British and American English.

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  • She will honour her commitment to volunteer.
  • The soldier received a medal to honour his bravery in battle.
  • The organization decided to honour its members.
Honour-or-honor-verb-US-flag
  • She will honor her commitment to volunteer.
  • The soldier received a medal to honor his bravery in battle.
  • The organization decided to honor its members.

Examples of using “honour” and “honor” as a noun

The following examples will illustrate the difference in the spelling of the noun “honour/honor” in British and American English.

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  • The ceremony was a moment of great honour for the recipient.
  • He acted with honour, even in the face of adversity.
  • Being selected as the team captain was a significant honour.
Honour-or-honor-noun-US-flag
  • The ceremony was a moment of great honor for the recipient.
  • He acted with honor, even in the face of adversity.
  • Being selected as the team captain was a significant honor.

“Honour” or “honor” in the “-ed” form

The past tense or past participle form of “honour/honor” is “honoured” and “honored” in the respective English variant. Below, you’ll find an overview and examples.

  • British English: Honoured
  • American English: Honored
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  • She felt deeply honoured to receive the prestigious award.
  • The war veterans were honoured for their bravery.
  • The university honoured him with a distinguished alumni award.
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  • She felt deeply honored to receive the prestigious award.
  • The war veterans were honored for their bravery.
  • The university honored him with a distinguished alumni award.

“Honour” or “honor” in the “-ing” form

The “-ing” form of the verb, also called gerund and present participle, “honour/honor” is “honouring” and “honoring” for the respective English variant.

  • British English: Honouring
  • American English: Honoring
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  • Honouring the tradition, the community gathered for a celebration.
  • The organization is committed to honouring its founder.
  • The memorial service was dedicated to honouring the memories.
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  • Honoring the tradition, the community gathered for a celebration.
  • The organization is committed to honoring its founder.
  • The memorial service was dedicated to honoring the memories.

Exceptions

There are several exceptions where the British and Americans share one spelling. In “honorary” the “u” is being dropped and “honorous” is also always spelled like that. However, there are even more words, like “honorific,” “honorial,” and “honoration.” These are also always spelled like that, regardless of the English variant you are using. Here’s an example for each of these words to demonstrate its use in a sentence.

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  • She received an honorary degree.
  • The task was honorous.
  • They are addressed with an honorific title.
  • The event had honorial decorations.
  • The ceremony was a moment of honoration.
Honoured-or-honored-exceptions-US-flag

FAQs

The correct spelling is “honour” in British English and “honor” in American English.

In the United Kingdom, the correct spelling is “honour.”

In Australia, both spellings, “honour” and “honor,” are acceptable, however, the British spelling “honour” is slightly more commonly used.

In Canada, there is a clear preference for the American spelling “honor.

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