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Licorice vs. liquorice

For the distinctively flavored Mediterranean plant, its root, and candies and confections made from the root, licorice is the preferred spelling in the U.S. and Canada. In Ireland and the U.K., liquorice is preferred. Both spellings are common in Australia and New Zealand. Besides the spelling, there is no difference between the words.

The word goes back to Middle English (and its immediate roots before entering English were in Anglo-Norman and Old French), and it has taken many spellings over the years. Both the main spellings that survive today are at least five centuries old, though liquorice prevailed by a wide margin from about 1700 to 1900, when American writers took up licorice for good.

Examples

North America

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This rosado is a year-round wine, gutsy and savory with an exotic flavor of earthy fruit and a touch of licorice. [New York Times]

We’re amazed by the intense flavours of tiny squab breast glazed in dark and spicy birch syrup with wild cattails and licorice-scented fennel. [Globe and Mail]

Enormous color concentration sports aromas and tastes of long-cooked dark fruit jam laced with hints of bacon, smoke, licorice, spice and tobacco. [Chicago Tribune]

U.K. and Ireland

It is highly aromatic, powerful, very savoury woody and bitter, with flavours of herbs and liquorice. [Irish Times]

It must be one of the prettiest towns in England, a grid of half-timbered buildings apparently made of mint cake and liquorice strips. [Telegraph]

The orange-flavoured and sugar-free lollipop contains a liquorice root extract known to kill the main cavity-causing bacterium in the mouth. [Scottish Daily Record]

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