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Honor vs. honour

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  • Honor is the American spelling of the word meaning, among things, (1) great respect or recognition, and (2) to show respect for. Honour is the preferred spelling outside the U.S.

     

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    The distinction extends to most derivatives of the word, including honored/honoured, honoring/honouring, honorable/honourable, and honoree/honouree. But there are exceptions: throughout the English-speaking world, honorific—meaning showing or conferring respect—is spelled without the u, and so are honorary and honorarium.

    Example

    U.S.

    A ceremony in Iran to honor the Academy Award-winning director Asghar Farhadi was canceled. [New York Times]

    The Wizards will be honoring outstanding teams and individuals. [Denver Post]

    The box-office hit “The Help” took top honors Friday at the 43rd NAACP Image Awards. [Los Angeles Times]

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    Outside the U.S.

    Iran has cancelled a ceremony in honour of the country’s Oscar-winning director. [Daily Express]

    U.S. President Barack Obama borrowed the 1963 work for a 2011 event honouring the still-living Ruby Bridges. [Winnipeg Free Press]

    Otago took the honours on the opening day of their fifth-round Plunket Shield match against Auckland at University Oval yesterday. [Stuff.co.nz]

    Derivatives without the u

    Four leading South Africans are to receive honorary doctorates from the Durban University of Technology (DUT) in April. [Independent Online]

    They receive no salary from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office but some are paid a small honorarium of around £2,000. [BBC]

    Otokoyaku speak in the brusque male form of the honorific Japanese language. [The Australian]

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