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Favorite or Favourite – Which Spelling Is Correct?

Is it Favorite or Favourite?  Why are there two spellings?  Well, it’s been said that the United States and the United Kingdom are two countries separated by a common language. Even though English is the most commonly used language in both countries, a distinction is often made between English in the United States—what’s called American English—an English used in the United Kingdom—what is called British English. The differences between the two types of English are generally subtle, but nonetheless, they exist, particularly around spelling.

Favorite and favourite are both considered correct spellings, depending on whether you use American or British spelling standards. Favorite is the preferred spelling in American English, while favourite is the preferred spelling in British English. Oftentimes, favorite or favourite can be used and the correct form depends on which style guide you follow.

Difference between favorite and favourite: English vs. British

The Correct Way to Spell Favorite

The answer to that question will most likely depend on where you are. If you’re in the United States, you hear that “favorite” is the correct spelling. If you are just about anywhere else in the entire world where English is spoken, you’ll hear that “favourite” is the spelling to use. “Favourite” and “favorite” mean the exact same thing, are pronounced the exact same way (FAY-vuh-rit or FAY-vrit) and are both considered correct spellings.

The Definition of Favorite

“Favorite” (or “favourite,” if that is the spelling you prefer) is a word that can be used as both a noun and as an adjective.

When it’s used as a noun, “favorite” can have two meanings. When we care for someone or something more than other people or things, we use the word favorite to let the world know:

Example           I had lots of toys as a kid, but the dolls were my absolute favorite.

Favorite is also a word that shows up frequently in relation to a competition. We call the person who is most likely to win the match “the favorite”

Example           Even though he’d entered the tournament as the favorite, he still had a couple of tough matches ahead of him.

We mentioned that favorite could also be used as an adjective. When we use it that way, favorite only has one meaning—“preferred” or “most liked”:

Example           Green is Sam’s favorite color. She likes red, too, but not as much as green.

Origins of the Two Spellings of Favorite

“Favorite” and “favourite” share a familiar backstory with other words in the English language. For instance, the word “color,” is spelled with an “-or” ending in American English, but in British English it is spelled “colour.” There are many of other examples: “flavor” and “flavour,” “honor” and “honour,” “rumor” and “rumour.” The list could go on and on.

There was no agreement on how words ending with -or or -our should be spelled in Britain for a long time. You may know that Samuel Johnson, the famous British lexicographer, had a firm preference for the -our version of words, as is proven from his 1755 dictionary. Across the pond, an equally known American lexicographer named Noah Webster, wanted to make the English language used in America one hundred percent American. As a result, his 1828 dictionary recommended the -or spellings of the disputed words. Even today, Webster gets a lot of credit for impacting the way Americans write English.

Favorite vs. Favourite

The most easy way to notice the difference in spelling and its national character is by searching through different national publications or international editions of the same media outlet.

For the first time in five years, TJ’s did not earn the title of favorite supermarket in America, despite its loyal following.”

– The Huffington Post, US edition

To help kick off the delicious holiday feast, top chefs and cooks have shared their favourite (and simple to make) recipes.

– The Huffington Post, Australian edition

As a way of celebrating HuffPost Canada’s sixth anniversary, we’ve compiled some of our favourite features.

– The Huffington Post, Canadian edition

Current bets are making Russia’s superstar Sergey Lazarev the hot favourite, with the UK’s Jon and Joe coming in at a respectable seventh place in the bookies’ list of favourites.

– The Huffington Post, UK edition 

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By Connie Fisher

Connie Fisher is a freelance writer and editor specializing in business writing and marketing. She holds a bachelor's degree in media and journalism and has contributed to a slew of printed and online media, including Contra Costa Times, Daily American, the The Tri-Town News,, and many more.

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