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Labeled or Labelled? Are Both Right?

Was that folder labeled or was it labelled?  Although they may seem to be two different words entirely, “labeled” and “labelled” are words that refer to the same thing. To be clear, however, they do have a difference in their dialect usage.

When To Use “Labeled” and “Labelled”

“Labeled” is the past tense form of “label,” which is often used in American English dialects, whereas “labelled” is often used in British English. Essentially, they both mean the same thing and are technically correct spellings.

As a frame of reference, countries in North America that speak English, such as the United States will use American spellings. In contrast, European countries (such as France or the UK) will tend to use the British spelling.

Keep in mind, the situation can get even more complex when you take other English speakers into account. For instance, people in Canada will likely use a mix of British and American English.

Even though they have merit, their specific uses in dialects should not be ignored. For instance, although it wouldn’t be incorrect to use “labelled” in a letter you are writing to an American, they may find it odd or even think that you made a mistake.

To reiterate, although there is a spelling difference between the two words, try to keep in mind if you are writing to American audiences or British audiences.

In summary, it is likely best to stick to using each in their respective dialects to avoid unneeded confusion.

labeled above an American flag signifying a US spelling, labeled above a British flag, signifying a British spelling

Examples Using “Labeled” and “Labelled”

To help illustrate how to spot British and American usage of these terms, look at the examples sentences below.

  • American: I labeled my jam jar so that no one would use it.
  • American: Don’t forget that your salt test tubes should be labeled.
  • British: I labelled my jam jar so that no one would use it.
  • British: Don’t forget that your salt test tubes should be labelled.

Lable or Label?

A little bonus – Sometimes one might come across the word “label.”  This is simply a misspelling, and is not to be used on any continent!  The correct spelling is “label.”

Here are some other spelling variations you should know!

Blond or Blonde?

Color or Colour?

Practice or Practise?

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By Ryan Fisher

Ryan holds degrees from Pacific Lutheran University and specializes in proofreading, editing, and content writing with an emphasis on business communication.

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