Rumour or Rumor – Difference & Meaning

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

The English language is difficult enough without having to remember that there are word pairs that mean the same thing and are pronounced the same but have different spellings.

The culprit of this confusion is the adaptation of American vs. British spellings, creating frustration and misuse for language learners. Luckily, the spelling differences are usually very subtle and easy to remember – making the recognition of these words a simple task.

Rumor and rumour are perfect examples of this conundrum. One is a preferred American spelling, while the other is specific to UK-influenced English. Let’s take a look at the word, what it means, and how you can properly use it.

What’s the Difference Between Rumor and Rumour?

httpsgrammarist.comspellingrumor rumour

Rumor is the U.S. spelling of the noun, meaning a piece of unverified information of uncertain origin (it can also serve as a verb). Rumour is the preferred spelling in other English-speaking countries.

Rumor Definition and Use

As a noun, a rumor is information that is circulating or being shared without certainty to facts. It is synonymous with gossip or hearsay.

For example,

  • I seriously wish you would stop spreading the rumor that I lost money and am irresponsible when you know it isn’t true.

As a verb, it means to tell, spread, or assert information without confirmation or facts. In this usage, you apply the present tense form, rumoring, or past tense, rumored.

For example,

  • It’s been rumored that the only reason he passed the class was because he paid an assistant to take the final for him.

Rumour Definition and Use

Rumour has the exact same definition of the spelling, rumor. It is simply the British spelling of the word that was more widely adapted to American English during the early 1800 through the exclusion of the second -u.

For example,

  • It isn’t nice to spread rumours.
  • Don’t make up rumours to take the attention away from your own mistakes.

Origin of Rumor

Rumor American English Ngram
American English rumor usage trend.

Rumor, as we know it, came into use from the Old French word “rumor” which means widespread commotion or noise. In Latin, “rumorem” means noise, hearsay, or common talk.

Rumour British English Ngram
British English rumour usage trend.

A rumor (more commonly spelled rumour at the time) became popular as a way to describe news or current reports without foundation in the 1500s.

Popularity of Rumor vs. Rumour

Rumor vs. Rumour Ngram
Rumor and rumour usage trend.

Although the original spelling was influenced by the British, rumor has been used since the 1500s and fluctuated in popularity until the late 1800s when it became the preferred spelling.

Both spellings are commonly used outside the US, however, and you can choose to use either without confusing your audience.

Let’s Review

Rumor and rumour are the same word. Rumor is most often used as a noun to describe information that is spread or shared that is considered untrue or unverified. It can also be used as a verb to indicate the spreading of rumors.

Rumour is the British English spelling of the word, and although it was the more popular spelling for many centuries of use has fallen behind the more modern, Americanized spelling: rumor.

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