Blog/Grammar tips
16 November 2023
4 min read

Yoghurt or Yogurt: A Comprehensive Guide to Spelling and Usage

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the dairy product that has sparked debates over its spelling and usage - Yogurt or Yoghurt.

This creamy, tangy delight, a product of animal origin, has been a staple in our diets for centuries. But have you ever wondered why it's spelled differently in various parts of the world?

Stay with us as we uncover the correct spelling of yogurt or yoghurt, one spoonful at a time.

Understanding the Spelling Variations of Yogurt

The spelling of the word 'yogurt' has been a topic of debate for many years. Is it 'yogurt' or 'yoghurt'? The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. The spelling variations of this popular dairy product are a reflection of its rich history and the diverse cultures that have embraced it.

The Origin and Evolution of Yogurt Spelling

The spelling variations of the dairy product we know as yogurt or yoghurt can be traced back to its Turkish roots. The original Turkish word 'yoğurt' was derived from the verb 'yoğurmak,' which means 'to be curdled or coagulated; to thicken.' As this word traveled across different languages and cultures, its spelling was adapted to fit the phonetic norms and linguistic preferences of each region.

In English, the spelling variations include yogurt, yoghurt, and to a lesser extent yoghourt or yogurt. The United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa usually spell it as 'yoghurt,' while the United States prefers 'yogurt.' Canada has its own unique spelling, 'yogourt,' which is a variant of the French 'yaourt,' although 'yogurt' and 'yoghurt' are also used.

The spelling 'yoghurt' with an 'h' is first attested in sources from 1925, while the 'h'-less form 'yogurt' appears from 1956. Today, both spellings are considered correct, and their usage varies by region. This duality in spelling reflects the rich and diverse history of the word and the food it represents.

Examples of Yogurt Spelling in Context

  • In the United States, the spelling "yogurt" is preferred over "yoghurt" with a usage ratio of 99 to 1.
  • The United Kingdom shows a preference for "yogurt" over "yoghurt" with a usage ratio of 62 to 38.
  • In India, "yogurt" is more commonly used than "yoghurt" with a usage ratio of 84 to 16.
  • The Philippines also favor "yogurt" over "yoghurt" with a usage ratio of 92 to 8.
  • Canada leans towards "yogurt" over "yoghurt" with a usage ratio of 96 to 4.
  • Australia shows a nearly equal preference for "yoghurt" and "yogurt" with a usage ratio of 51 to 49.
  • Liberia, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago all show a strong preference for "yogurt" over "yoghurt" with a usage ratio of 100 to 0, 100 to 0, 96 to 4, and 94 to 6 respectively.
  • In New Zealand, there is no clear preference between "yogurt" and "yoghurt", with usage levels of 50 vs. 50.

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Yoghurt or Yogurt: Spelling Differences

Whether you're a fan of regular yogurt or enjoy exploring different types, understanding the yoghurt or yogurt spelling difference can add a dash of linguistic flavor to your dairy discussions.

Let's explore the spelling variations that make this humble dairy product a topic of global conversation.

Yogurt Spelling in American English

The spelling of the word 'yogurt' in American English is a reflection of the cultural influence and language preferences of the region. In the United States, the term 'yogurt' is predominantly used to refer to the fermented dairy product that we all know and love. This spelling has become widely accepted in international contexts, partly due to the influence of American culture and language.

The American spelling of 'yogurt' is also influenced by the phonetic similarities between the two spellings. Both 'yogurt' and 'yoghurt' are phonetically similar, reflecting their common origin from the Ottoman Turkish word 'yoğurt.' This phonetic similarity has led to the American preference for the spelling 'yogurt,' which is easier to pronounce and write for English speakers.

In the United States, the spelling 'yogurt' is used in various contexts, from food packaging to culinary recipes. This spelling is also used in academic and scientific literature, reflecting the widespread acceptance of this spelling in American English.

However, it's important to note that the spelling 'yoghurt' is also recognized and understood in the United States. It's not uncommon to see this spelling used in some contexts, particularly in writings that discuss the history and cultural significance of this delicious dairy product.

Yoghurt Spelling in British English

The spelling 'yoghurt' is favored in British English and is also common in countries influenced by British English. This spelling reflects the rich and diverse history of the word and the food it represents. The term 'yoghurt' is primarily used in the UK and other Commonwealth countries. However, the spelling 'yoghurt' with an 'h' is becoming increasingly common in the US as well.

The word 'yoghurt' was responsible for a gustatory epiphany for many when they first tasted the creamy, tongue-caressing delight. The spelling 'yoghurt' is often associated with the British versions of this type of yogurt, which were not everyday fare back then.

The spelling 'yoghurt' is also used in an upmarket British supermarket, indicating that both spellings are used in the UK. The Oxford English Dictionary lists a staggering 34 variant spellings for this loanword from Turkish, indicating the rich history and diverse usage of the word.

In the Oxford database, the spelling 'yoghurt' is "lemmatized" on 'yogurt', which means that 'yogurt' is taken to be the main form. However, 'yoghurt' is frequent in British written sources, as also in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Final Thoughts on Yogurt Spelling and Usage

From sweetened and flavored varieties to yogurt beverages, there's a type of yogurt to suit every palate. Remember, the spelling variations merely reflect regional preferences and do not alter the essence of this nutritious dairy product. So, whether you're enjoying a bowl of Greek yogurt from whole milk or sipping on a probiotic yogurt drink, you're partaking in a tradition that dates back centuries.

Enjoy your yogurt (or yoghurt) knowing you're in good company!

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