Advertisement

Jewelry vs. jewellery

For the noun referring to articles, especially of gold, silver, or precious stones, used for personal adornment, jewelry is the preferred spelling in American English. Jewellery is preferred in varieties of English from outside North America. Both spellings appear in Canadian English, but jewelry prevails by a two-to-one margin.

The spelling difference extends to jeweler (American English) and jeweller (British and Australian English), as well as to other derivatives such as jeweled–jewelled and jewelingjewelling. But jewel (not jewell) is the standard spelling in all varieties of English.

The simpler, American spelling of the word is part of the legacy of Noah Webster, the early-19th-century educator and lexicographer, best known for his 1831 dictionary, whose attempts to reform the language met with varying degrees of success. He didn’t originate the jewelry spelling, but he was instrumental in making it a part of the American language. The ngram below, which graphs occurrence of the two forms in a large number of American books published from 1800 to 2000, suggests that in this case his influence was immediate and permanent:


Advertisement

Examples

U.S.

Police in Rosenberg are hoping the public can help them find more than 30 watches stolen from a jewelry store last month. [Houston Chronicle]

Downtown Denver jeweler Damon Musselman is in his first season as a beekeeper. [Denver Post]

One of his favorite gifts is a jeweled white robe presented by Elvis Presley, adorned with the words “The People’s Champion.” [CNN]

Outside North America

Advertisement

Check Your Text

Comments

  1. reardensteel says:

    So are there four distinct syllables in jewellery: ju-uhl-uh-ree?
    Seems like a mouthful.

    A lot of Americans say ju-ler-ree, which is just wrong.
    Jewelry should be pronounced ju-uhl-ree.

  2. tomo008866 says:

    I don’t understand why Americans drop an ‘L’. You say it like jewel-lery. If I used one ‘L’, it’d be a totally different pronunciation. It’s just as messed up as all the other American English spellings.

  3. Roy G. Biv says:

    What’s worse, many (most?) people pronounce it jew-ler-y

  4. I agree. Jewelry is spelled with only one L. It makes a difference in the domain world trust me.

    • it hasn’t hurt People’s to call it Jeweller or Jewellery .. or Jewellers :)

    • Niall Flynn says:

      The search volume says the opposite, from an SEO standpoint the double ll is the key word the single has a lot less volume. 201k a month searches for jewellery, 18.1k for jewelery. CPC spend is the opposite with users bidding more on the single l than the double. Hard to say conclusively why spend is high for one when the volume is the opposite, but I would not be using the US spelling for anything SEO related, other than the post I plan to write about this :)

  5. geekahedron says:

    A double letter always makes me want to stress the syllable. “Jewellery” sounds like jə-WELL-ə-rē in my head.
    Similar reasoning applies to other repeated letters on suffixes with unstressed syllables (“canCELLed” “laBELLed” et cetera).

    • Velvet Android says:

      It’s funny how this works both ways — coming at it from a double-L British perspective, seeing suffixes formed with a single L looks equally odd without that second one modifying the ending. That is, taking the syllable alone for the purposes of clarifying this, ‘–belled’ reads as, well, “belled”, but ‘–beled’ comes across as more like “bealed”/”beeled” or maybe”beyled”; ” e.g. ‘labeled’ reads as “laBEALed”, ‘canceled” reads almost the same way as ‘concealed’!

      ‘Jewelry’ is a particularly odd one as, other than perhaps apparently alter the pronunciation used with ‘jewellery’, which does indeed tend to be “JEW-le-ree” or “JOOL-uh-ree” (there may be a very subtle hint of dividing the word further buried somewhere in there if you listen hard, but there’s never four distinct syllables), the main difference is that it looks very ‘cramped’ to these eyes — this stands out because obviously the subject matter is something that’s showy and glamorous and expensive, yet the contracted spelling (losing not only the second L but also the last E) somehow makes it feel ‘cheaper’ and imply gaudiness rather than class. Possibly this is because an adjective for cheap or plasticky jewels would be ‘tawdry’, so maybe there’s a subconscious echo of that…?!

      • ldpirozzi says:

        Here’s the rule I was taught in 3rd grade

        a single consonant makes the vowel before it long when followed by a vowel (any vowel but most often the silent-e), two consonants together (any 2 but most often the same two) makes or keeps the preceding vowel short – the usual English caveat to cover all irregularities applies (known as the Don’t-Count-On-It or DCOI clause)

        dinner in a diner
        super supper
        dad…daddy

        cap, cape, caper, capped
        can, canned, cane, caned

        by rule jewel —> bejewelled, jeweller
        by DCOI jewel —-> bejeweled, jeweler
        by rule ->Jewelry .. je-wel-ry (it’s about the gem)
        by rule ->jewellery .. jool-le ry (it’s about the person who made it)

        My spellchecker and I prefer the single “L” version in all cases. No surprise, we are both American

        • Velvet Android says:

          I don’t think I’d heard that ‘rule’ before, but very interesting as it clearly holds a lot of water in most cases — will keep that in mind and see how many examples I spot that adhere to it… or don’t, as the case may be!

          • ldpirozzi says:

            other examples

            Well behaved:
            Occasionally
            Broccoli
            sag sagged, sage, sagely
            opportunity
            bade, bad, badly
            file, filed, filing, fill, filled, filling
            ball, balled, balloon, bale, baled

            egregious rule breakers:
            recommend
            definite

            and many more (it’s still English, after all)

      • I agee with the ‘cheap’ feeling that ‘jewelry’ invites. To me ‘jewellery’ seems like ‘the thing itself’ while ‘jewelry’ feels a bit off to me.

        (And things like ‘labeled’ are terrible – to me, those sound more like laBELLED than labelled with the double L.)

      • Alejandro_the_Great says:

        People sound like idiots when they say “jew-el-ER-y.”

        • Alexa Campbell says:

          I agree with “Plu”, jewelry sounds tacky and common, jewellery sounds like it’s from a proper jeweller, rather than on the high street.
          Americans just had to change the English language though!! Rofl.
          “Long may ye live, jewellery”. Lol.
          I’d rather be proper and spell it the traditional correct way :)

  6. Inigo Montoya says:

    It is one of two words that I have trouble saying, I think my brain gets confused between all three forms of jewelry, jewellery, and jew-luh-ree I heard around me as a kid, so I now just say “trinkets”…

  7. Alejandro_the_Great says:

    Do the English use jewelles in their jewellery made by a jeweller? Sorry, but the British spelling is ridiculous. It looks like something from the 17th century era of crappy spelling.

    • Alexa Campbell says:

      Yet how would you know? You weren’t around at that time were you really? . Aye, gid one! The american (ridiculous crappy) way sounds cheap and tacky to me. I will stick with the proper correct way thank you!

  8. miguel angel oquendo 520 732 2 says:

    Allow me to insert something. I was taught that (simply) jewelry appertains to adornments, stones, metals (precious or not). And that Jewlery is anything that appertains to the Jewish Faith or peoples. Crazy huh!!!!! I thought, surely I would find a comment similar to this on this roll but of course, did not. Anyone out there with a similar experience? Share.

    • miguel angel oquendo 520 732 2 says:

      Yes I’m ignorant indeed. I apologize and stand corrected. Jewry is that which actually appertains to the Jewish peoples and faith. I spoke too soon. Mia culpa, my bad and now I can’t seem to shut up.

  9. Heather L. Morigeau says:

    I’m Canadian – I work in the jewellery industry and I am a jewellery designer

  10. Mitchell Leitman says:

    I dispute the assertion that “jewelry” is used two times more frequently than “jewellery ” in Canada. All major jewellers in Canada, in an informal review I conducted, use “jewellery “, except for US-based ones having Canadian locations. This trend continues with non-jewellery specialist retailers that are US based.

    • thank you this was helpful. I just posted a post about jewelry and then it came too me did I use the proper term. I do live here in the US on the east side so there are people from all around the world and some shops use jewelry and some use jewellrey . As I write it out now ‘jewellrey’ is underline as red indicating it is “incorrect”

  11. Melody Armstrong says:

    I’m Canadian and I have always spelled it the American way, but when I used spellcheck it was wrong. But then again, it said airplane was aeroplane for Canadian English, and that is not true. It is airplane for American and Canadian English, and aeroplane for British English. So which one would be more correct? Jewelry, or jewellery?”

Speak Your Mind

advertisement
About Grammarist
Contact | Privacy policy | Home
© Copyright 2009-2014 Grammarist