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Yoghurt vs. yogurt

For the curdled-milk-based, custardlike food with a tart flavor, yoghurt is the preferred spelling in the main varieties of English from outside North America. Yogurt is preferred in American and Canadian English. They are variant spellings of the same word, and neither has any meanings all its own. A third spelling, yoghourt, is rare in this century.

The word, which came from Turkish around the early 17th century,1 had many spellings through its early years in English, including yoghurd, yogourt, and yahourt.2 In British English, yoghourt, yoghurt, and yogurt vied for ascendancy through the middle 20th century, but by 2000 yoghurt was more common by a large margin.3 The North American spelling was settled around 1960.4

Examples

Outside North America

For yoghurt, Danone buys raw milk locally but only from large dairy farms. [Financial Times]

It’s more than likely the appetiser of creamy curried lentil and yoghurt soup. [Sydney Morning Herald]

This means bags, yoghurt pots and supermarket packaging no longer need to be sorted separately. [Guardian]


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North America

Those products would likely include milk, yogurt and rice, which are essentially 100% domestically controlled. [Wall Street Journal]

Try fruit and nuts, a decaf latte (or yogurt) and a piece of fruit, bean soup, whole grain crackers (Wasa, Ryvita and FinnCrisp are low glycemic) and part skim cheese. [Globe and Mail]

But some experts worry that the benefits of probiotics will be diluted as the substances move beyond their yogurt and milk base. [Los Angeles Times]

Sources

1. Chambers Dictionary of Etymology
2. Yogurt in the OED
3. Ngram of yogurt, yoghurt, and yoghourt in British books, 1900-2000
4. Ngram of yogurt, yoghurt, and yoghourt in British books, 1900-2000

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Comments

  1. I spell it yoghurt but everyone in my band class tells me I spell it wrong, no one will look it up but I’m pretty sure it’s yoghurt…?

    • Grammarist says:

      You can send them here. If you’re in North America, “yogurt” is right. If you’re outside North America, it’s “yoghurt.” 

  2. Fringe, how often do you have to spell yoghurt in band class?! :D

  3. The two words are also pronounced differently, though I’m not sure what applies to each region. In Britain the most popular pronunciation is ‘yog-urt’ (‘og’ as in ‘jog’), as opposed to ‘yo-gurt’ (‘yo’ as in ‘yo-yo’).

    • In New Zealand we spell it with an ‘h’ and pronounce ‘yo’ as in ‘yo-yo’. Maybe that ‘rule’ holds true for UK & US, but not for us and (probably) not Australia too.

      English is weird :p

      • Yep in Aus we also say yoghurt as in ‘yo-yo’. I cringe whenever I hear yoghurt with ‘og’ as in ‘jog’ (like on UKTV for instance). Why would anyone want to eat such an ugly-sounding food?

        • Richie Jack Batra says:

          Also when Watching the Australian Open (im from USA), they pronounced Djokovic like (jog), while at least in the US, we call him like joke-a-vich (yo-yo sound). Interesting subtle differences in our common launguage……

  4. JudithPoodith says:

    Yogurt may be the preferred spelling in NA now, but I remember, as a child, up until my teens, it was still yoghurt. I still use that spelling, but it drives my friends mad.

  5. Jack Gert says:

    I’m Canadian and here everyone spells it “yogourt”. Even on the yogourt containers it’ll use that spelling, does that mean everyone’s wrong?

    • Richie Jack Batra says:

      Really? I was almost certain Canada spells yogurt, but apparently Im wrong…

      • Mitchell Leitman says:

        Yogourt is being replaced by yogurt, more and more. The only major manufacturer I know of that uses “yogourt” is Astro (Parmalat). What’s odd is that the Canadian French spelling is also “yogourt” so one often sees such things from some other manufacturers, such as Danone , labelling the product as “Danone yogurt/yogourt”

  6. Oecophylla says:

    I spell it yhouhghourhrrt. And I still don’t think I have quite enough letters in it. It’s just one of those words that doesn’t benefit from economical spelling.

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