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Fiber vs. fibre

There is no difference in meaning between fiber and fibre. Fiber is the preferred spelling in American English, and fibre is preferred in all the other main varieties of English.


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Both spellings are many centuries old, and neither spelling was clearly prevalent on either side of the Atlantic until the second half of the 18th century. This was a period in which many British educators began to consider it proper for English words of French and Latin origin to take their more French and Latin forms rather than their more Anglicized forms. Fibre is the French spelling of the word from which the English word is derived, so it was promoted as the standard spelling despite its being unphonetic. The belief that French and Latin should hold sway over English never had much traction in the post-independence United States, and while Americans also favored the French spelling through the 19th century, the more phonetic fiber steadily gained ground through that century until becoming the preferred form around 1910.

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Comments

  1. Thanks much. Perfect! needed that.

  2. Gus Hauptfleisch says:

    hmmmm… I was sure that fibre referred to the edible kind such as muesli, bran, mangoes etc and fiber referred to the glassy composite that is in tripods, bicycles, car bodies and hi-tech cabling ….

    • Same

      • To everyone making this comment: We have looked into it and see no evidence that this differentiation exists beyond being a personal preference that some people have. We don’t see it in American English, British English, Canadian English, or any of the other main varieties. We do this research by searching through a large number of different sorts of books, newspapers, and other publications written in each variety of English, and what we see is “fiber” being used for all senses of the word in American English and “fibre” being used for all senses in other varieties of English. The exceptions are few. We also don’t see the difference noted in any of our English reference books, for what that’s worth.

    • Julian Garrett says:

      I only stumbled across this as I am a mobile radio engineer and deal with Fiber (Fibre…) installations all the time.
      I noticed that while I use fiber, all the other engineers use fibre.
      But I always thought Gus’s interpretation was the normal one.
      Who knows…

  3. tomo008866 says:

    ‘re’ spellings make more sense. Sometimes, it doesn’t make much of a difference though.

  4. [email protected] says:

    Feels good man

  5. Agree with Gus

  6. Just thought I would double check on this as I’ve had some content back from an American writer who spelled it as ‘fiber’, whereas here in the UK we always use ‘fibre’ in every case – Or at least I have never seen it spelled differently in this country.

  7. Irwin Judson says:

    I don’t agree with Gus. My guess is fiberglass is an American technological development and is spelled thus there. I buy fibreglass here in Canada for glassing my boat and insulating my house. Grammarist has my vote.

  8. TheCOOLOne.NotANerd says:

    wow. u very up to date. NERD

  9. It’s fibre. So much debate, but everybody can agree on fibre, and I don’t think others are happy to ‘disagree’ on it, because it’s correct,

  10. thanks for your information.. Due to your information i had cleared my doubt about the spelling..

  11. how abt canada guys ?

  12. Is it like this in Australia: fibre ?

    I’m getting a red squiggle underneath fibre coz I have a spellcheck on everything so ye…does tht mean fibre is a word…or not?

    • JediWombat says:

      Yes, in Australia, we use the non-U.S. spelling, as with everything.

    • You might have some American spellchecker activated – switch that off if you’re using Australian spellings. Otherwise you may have perfectly correct words like colour and realise underlined.

    • Never use any other spell check than UK English, don’t use Australian English. It has troubles in Microsoft Word where colour is meant to be spelt color and organisation wants to be organization. Stupid spell check.

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  14. Andy Castor says:

    “Fiberglass” is (or was) a US trade name. Fiber is US spelling, Fibre in the UK.

    Correct term for the composite material generically “glassfibre” is GRP – glass reinforced plastic.

    Fiber (or Fibre) optics are another technology altogether, but the spelling has nowt to do wi’it.

    • Well it (“f. optics”) does, as the glass is formed into thin “fibres” or “fibers”. When in the U. S., I’d use “fiber.” When elsewhere, I’d used “fibre.”

      Perhaps similarly, in computing, we have “processes” and “threads” (these latter like “thing” processes, very roughly) and sometimes “threads” are even divided into “fibers,” as a pun on a thread being made of fibres. Since there are a lot of U. S. programmers, “fiber” in this context is prevalent. If I were writing it in code, I’d still spell it as “fibre,” since it comes directly from the “material” usage and since I’m not in the U. S. A.

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