Mold vs. Mould: What’s the Right Spelling?

Due to similarities in pronunciation and spelling, it is easy to confuse mold vs. mould. However, the two words may have different uses depending on the region in which you live. A look at the differences between the two terms can help you use the correct word wherever you go.

Definition of Mold

Mold is the American spelling for the word. There are three distinct definitions for mold:

  • 1) (noun) a frame or hollow container in which to shape an object; a prototype created from a frame or hollow container
  • 2) (verb) to shape an object or prototype from a pliable material (such as clay)
  • 3) (noun) any species of various fungi that grow on organic matter and indicate decay

How to Use the Word “Mold” in a Sentence

Here are a few examples to help you use the word as either a noun or verb.

  • Example 1 – The clay must dry in a wooden mold before I can paint them.
  • Example 2 – I molded the clay into toy animals.
  • Example 3Mold has grown on the cheese.
  • Example 4 – He kept trying to mold me into a different person.

Definition of Mould

Mould is the British variant of the same word. English speakers can encounter this spelling in the United Kingdom as well as countries like New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, India, Ireland, and some parts of Canada.

How to Use the Word “Mould” in a Sentence

Reviewing examples can help you understand how to use this word and most of its derivatives (including idioms and other figurative speech).

  • Example 1 – Pour the cake batter into the heart-shaped mould.
  • Example 2 – I will mould the plaster into figurines.
  • Example 3 – Look at the mould on the bathroom wall.
  • Example 4 – The politician wants to break free from the traditional mould.

What Is the Difference Between Mold and Mould?

Mold is the American spelling for the word while mould is the British variant of the same word. To understand mould vs mold definition, it is helpful to review etymology. The American word for the verb “mold” derives from the Middle English word molde (which meant “pattern” or “to shape or model”). By comparison, Britain’s “mould” hails from the Anglo-French moule (which descended from the Latin modulus or unit of measurement).

In the same way, the modern word for the noun “mold” derives from the obsolete mould (the past participle “grown mouldy” in Old Norse). Etymologies also link the noun to the Proto-Germanic root mulda (which meant pulverized or ground dust).

Even though mold and mould ultimately mean the same thing, Norman-French influences meant that the British adopted the mould spelling. In contrast, Americans dropped the “u” and began spelling mold the way it sounds. One can find the same trend with words like colour and armour (for which Americans adopted Noah Webster’s philosophy of dropping the “u” and began spelling words the way they sound).

In recent years, rules for the mould vs mold definition have also depended on style and personal preference. For example, even though “mold” is the standard American spelling, some American publications prefer the word moulding to describe woodworking or decorative architecture. Depending on the industry, both spellings are acceptable to convey image and personal tastes.

A Neat Trick to Remember the Difference Between Mold vs. Mould

The term “mould” is most common in the United Kingdom. Since both have the letter “u” in them, a neat trick to remember this is to think “mould in United Kingdom.” And since the word “America” does not contain this letter, you can rest assured that this mental trick can work to get the correct variation each time. Now that you know the difference between mold and mould, you can use each one with confidence wherever you go.


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