Colour or Color? Understanding UK English

By Strategically AI. Reviewed by Rebecca Hey.
Updated November 15, 2023
3 minute read
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Navigating through the variations of English spelling can be a fascinating journey. A classic example is the spelling of "colour" in UK English, often a point of confusion for those more familiar with American English. In this article, we'll explore the correct spelling of "colour" in the UK context, providing examples and tips to help you remember this and similar spelling variations.

Understanding Colour in UK English

In UK English, "colour" is the standard spelling for what Americans spell as "color." This difference is a remnant of historical linguistic evolution, where British English often retains more traditional spellings that have been simplified in American English.

  • Colour is the correct spelling in UK English.
  • Color is the American English spelling.

The Spelling Challenge

The challenge with "colour" lies in remembering the 'u' that is not present in the American spelling. This difference extends to several other words in British English, like "favour" (vs. "favor" in American English).

Examples in Context

  • Correct (UK): The artist loved using bright colours in her paintings.
  • Incorrect (UK): The colour of the sky at sunset was breathtaking.

Exploring Variations with Examples

To further clarify, here are some more examples:

  • Correct (UK): He chose a vibrant shade of blue for the room's colour scheme.
  • Incorrect (UK): Her favourite colour is green.

Summary and Key Insights

Remember, in UK English, "colour" always includes the 'u.' This small letter is a key differentiator between British and American spelling. Keeping this distinction in mind will help you avoid common spelling errors, especially when writing for a UK audience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a simple way to remember the UK spelling of "colour"?

Think of the 'u' in "colour" as part of the UK's unique identity in spelling, distinguishing it from the US spelling.

Can "color" be used in UK English?

While "color" is understood in the UK, it is considered an Americanism. The correct UK spelling is "colour."

Why does British English include a 'u' in words like "colour"?

The 'u' in words like "colour" and "favour" is a holdover from Old French, which heavily influenced Middle English. British English often retains these older spellings.

Are there other words like "colour" that have different UK and US spellings?

Yes, words like "honour/honor," "neighbour/neighbor," and "labour/labor" follow the same pattern.

Is the meaning of "colour" different in UK and US English?

No, the meaning of "colour/color" is the same in both forms of English; only the spelling differs.


In conclusion, understanding the difference in spelling between "colour" in UK English and "color" in American English is more than a mere academic exercise. It reflects the rich tapestry of the English language and its diverse forms. Whether you're writing an email, a blog post, or a formal document, paying attention to these spelling nuances can enhance the clarity and geographical appropriateness of your writing.

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Rebecca Hey
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