Color vs Colour: What’s the Correct Spelling?

It’s said that Britain and the United States are simply “two countries set apart by a common language.” The most interesting thing with the two major versions of the English language, British English and American English, has to be the fact they use different terms to describe one thing. Sometimes this includes different spellings for the same word. Today, we’ll explore the difference between color vs. colour.

What Is the Difference Between Color and Colour?

While the spellings of color and colour are different, there is no difference in their meaning. Britians spell the word as “colour” while Americans prefer to use the spelling as “color,” dropping the “u.”

How Did We End Up With Two Different Spellings?

In his efforts to show America’s independence from England in the late 1700s, Noah Webster (author of An American Dictionary of the English Language) embarked on a spelling reform, whereby words were to be spelled according to their respective sound. This reform birthed lots of other spelling differences we see nowadays. Webster’s legacy is preserved in the American style spelling of certain words. One example of a word that was simplified to its sound was color.

Other spellings include honor and labor from honour and labour respectively. The latter spellings are from British English while the former spelling identifies with American English.

It’s even said that Webster attempted to change the spelling of women to wimmen but failed. Other similar changes include canceled vs cancelled, traveling vs travelling, and many others.

What Does Color (or Colour) Mean?

According to, the word “Color” can be either a noun, adjective, or verb.

As a noun, it means:

  1. the quality of an object or substance with respect to light reflected by the object, usually determined visually by measurement of hue, saturation, and brightness of the reflected light; saturation or chroma;
  2. the natural appearance of the skin, especially of the face
  3. a ruddy complexion:

As an adjective, it can mean:

  1. involving, utilizing, yielding, or possessing color:

As a verb, the word color can mean:

  1. to give or apply color to; tingepaintdye:
  2. to cause to appear different from the reality:


It is apparent that these two styles of the English language are not so very different except for some slight spelling differences. If you remove regional dialects from the equation, most Americans and native Britons understand each other easily. Spelling differences in writing are often easily overlooked.

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