Harbor vs. harbour

There is no difference in meaning between harbor and harbour. Harbor is the preferred spelling in American English, and harbour is preferred in all other main varieties of English.



Deepening the Savannah harbor to accommodate larger ships is now the number one priority for officials in the coastal city. [GPB]

State Senator Jack Hart is advocating for the city to dump its snow surplus into the harbor, saying that Boston streets have become a public safety concern. [Boston Globe]

Baltimore’s harbor may be a mess, but those who attended a daylong conference on its problems Saturday came away encouraged that it doesn’t have to stay that way. [Baltimore Sun]

Outside the U.S.

The city, with its excellent harbour, occupied far too important a strategic position to be left deserted for long. [The Guardian]

To many Sydneysiders, the harbour is a proudly flaunted jewel, a brilliant vision to admire from balconies, boats and foreshores. [Sydney Morning Herald]

Much of historic St. John’s centres around its harbour and the major downtown shopping area is just metres from the water. [Toronto Sun]

6 thoughts on “Harbor vs. harbour”

  1. Hmmm… The American spelling is identical to the Latin, whereas the British spelling is used differently. I wonder why? Is it used as a means of avoiding confusion between English and Latin?

    • There is no “Harbor” in Latin. Harbours are actually called “Portus” (where the English “port”comes from) derived from the verb “Portum”, which is to carry, or “port” something (an existent yet not frequently used English term). However the Romanesque languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Italian use the term “portar” (Spanish and Portuguese), “portare” (Italian), and “porter” (French). However the Romanesque nations do usually speak more informally, with the use of the verb “usar”(Spanish and Portuguese), “usare” (Italian), and “user”(French), however the French usually tend to use the verb “utiliser” with more frequency. Hope it helped.


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