Favourite or favorite? Both spellings are correct. The “ou” spelling of the word is used in British English, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. On the other hand, “favorite” applies to the American English language.
You can only misspell the word if you use the American spelling in British writing, and vice versa.
What is Favorite?
The versatile word “favorite” gets used in English as three different parts of speech. It can function as an adjective, verb, or noun. Traditionally, it only existed as an adjective or noun, but in the 21st century, we also use it in a verb form. Neither its spelling nor its meaning changes its pronunciation – (FAY-vuh-rit or FAY-vrit).
Fun Fact: Although two pronunciations exist, they’re both correct. How you learn to say and spell the word comes down to where you grew up and learned to speak.
The definition of favorite describes something or someone well-liked. It might refer to a highly regarded person, thing, or place. The word also refers to signaling your preference for a social media post or bookmarking a website for later reference. Let’s look at when it means each of these definitions.
As a Noun
As a noun, favorite refers to the competitor favored to win or a highly-regarded person or thing. For example:
- ESPN named the Arlington Renegades as the favorite in the football game.
- The film “The Godfather” became a favorite among audiences.
- Many art collectors name Jackson Pollock as a favorite.
As an Adjective
As an adjective, favorite refers to a person’s most treasured person or item. For example:
- If I had to choose my favorite fall coffee, I’d pick the pumpkin spice latte.
- I can’t pick a favorite flavor; I love them all.
- Did you have a favorite chocolate as a child?
As a Verb
The use of the Internet and social media gave rise to the use of favorite as a verb. In this use, the word refers to marking a post with a sigil or icon that shows a preference for the post. Facebook uses the term post “like” but Twitter and Instagram use the term “favorite.” For example:
• I favorited every photo she posted of her vacation cruise because they all showed such breathtaking vistas.
Favorite or Favourite? What’s the Correct Spelling?
As mentioned earlier, the words “favorite” and “favourite” are correct. If you are in the United Kingdom, the spelling of the word is with the letter “u.” This is because, in British spelling standards, the letters “o” and “r” are separated by the letter “u.”
For instance, in America, we spell “flavor,” whereas, in the UK, the word is “flavour.” The same spelling standards for the following words:
- Rumor and rumour
- Honor and honour
- Humor and humour
So, as long as you spell favourite or favorite the standard way in which country you reside, you are correct.
Two dictionaries settled the debate of whether to spell it with a “u” or not.
In 1755, Samuel Johnson, a famous British lexicographer, published his dictionary, which used the “ou” spelling. In 1828, an American lexicographer, Noah Webster, published a dictionary of American English that used the spellings of words like favorite without the “u.”
The two dictionaries cemented what evolved as the common spelling in each location.
Trick to Remembering the Spelling
Remembering which spelling to use comes down to where you live or visit. When in the United States or writing for a client who does business there, use the spelling without a “u” in it. When writing for a client in Great Britain, add the letter “u” between the letters “o” and “r.”
The “favourite” spelling applies to Canadian English, Australian English, and New Zealand English.
Another trick you can try is remembering that the word “or” is for Americans, whereas “our” is for Britains.
If you still need help with the correct spelling, you can use the word’s synonyms, such as well-liked and best-loved.
When spelling “favorite” or “favourite,” understand that both spellings are correct. It depends on where you live or the client you write for.
You should use the “favourite” spelling for British writing and the “favorite” spelling for American writing. Remember, having the letter “u” in the spelling doesn’t change the pronunciation and the meaning of the word.