Candor or candour

  Candor is a noun meaning complete honesty or fairness. Sometimes it is used in the construction complete candor, but this is redundant. It is not pejorative or carry the connotation that candor is harsh, simply that what is said or done can be believed. The negative formation is usually having a lack of candor. Candor is the preferred spelling inside the United States. Candour is the preferred spelling outside the US. Candor is pronounced with an er sound at the end, while … [Read more...]

Synchronise or synchronize

Synchronize is a verb meaning to make two or more objects or actions happen in the same moment. Outside the United States it is spelled synchronise. The verb can be conjugated through all its forms, such as, synchronized, synchronizing, synchronised, and synchronising. A person or object which creates synchronization is a synchronizer.  Examples Based on those statistics and studies that have proven light’s ability to synchronize the body’s natural clock, Holi created SleepCompanion, … [Read more...]

Aetiology or etiology

This is a classic case of spelling difference between American English and British English. Etiology or aetiology is most commonly used as a medical term for the cause of a certain disease. It is also the name of the field of medicine focused on finding the cause of conditions or diseases. Outside the United States we find aetiology, aetiologies, aetiologic, aetiological, and aetiologically. Examples Using as a case study Robert Burton’s 1621 book, The Anatomy of Melancholy, Kendler … [Read more...]

Letter names

Each letter of the English alphabet can be spelled as itself (e.g., a DJ or T-shirt) or it can be spelled out using its name (e.g., a deejay or tee-shirt). Vowels still stand for themselves, and while very rare, the plural of vowels are made by adding -es. In the capitalized form the plurals are made by either -s or -'s (e.g., L's or As). Spelling letters usually occurs in compound names or derivatives. These spellings are different than the phonetic alphabet used to distinguish similar … [Read more...]

Demeanor or demeanour

Someone's demeanor is his or her outward behavior, or the way he or she appears to others. It is spelled demeanour outside the United States. The spelling change extends to misdemeanor and misdemeanour. Side note: The United States borrowed the word misdemeanor from the United Kingdom. Misdemeanor adds the prefix mis- which denotes that the subsequent action has been done wrongly or badly (e.g., misheard, misread, misunderstood). In the United Kingdom demeanour was also a verb, so … [Read more...]

Civilise vs. civilize

Civilize means to increase the social standards of a people or a place. It can also be used as an adjective in the form of civilized to describe something as polite or having good manners. Outside of North America it is spelled civilise and civilised. The spelling changes extend to other derivations of the word such as civilization and civilisation, which means a group of people who function in a group.  Examples Complicating the reputation of communist rule in Xinjiang are controversial … [Read more...]


Nascent is an adjective used to describe something as newly formed or just beginning to be in existence. Sometimes it is used to describe something with the potential for growth. It can be pronounced with either and long or short /a/ sound (nay cent or naa cent) in the US, while England uses the long /a/ sound exclusively. The noun form is nascence or nascency, which makes nascencies in the plural. Examples Now that the proposals on constitutional amendments were tabled in Parliament, as … [Read more...]

Improvise vs. improvize

In an instance of agreement, the proper spelling is the same everywhere in the English-speaking world: improvise. It means to speak without preparation or invent something using the materials at hand. One can also be an improviser, though this form does have an alternate spelling improvisor. However, the er spelling is vastly more common. Something can be improvisatory, and the art form of creating a scene on stage without a script is usually called improv. The correct term, however, … [Read more...]

Flip one’s lid vs. flip one’s wig

To flip one's lid and flip one's wig mean to suddenly lose control of yourself or your emotions, either in anger or excitement. The phrases are rarely used in the plural, but the generally accepted forms are flip their lids and flip their wigs. The verb flip is used in all its conjugations. Flipping your wig is more commonly found in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, it is not an old phrase, but was born in North America. The Oxford English Dictionary has the first print … [Read more...]

Rancor vs. rancour

Rancor is defined as bitterness or resentment. It is spelled rancor in the US, and rancour outside the US. The adjective form is rancorous, while the adverb is rancorously. These forms are spelled the same everywhere. Examples It of course also left "a legacy of political rancor and racial hatred so intense" that it guaranteed the world war that would follow 20 years later, which by Keegan's calculation was five times as destructive of human life. [Wall Street Journal] Actually, we owe … [Read more...]

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