Decoding 'Favourite' vs 'Favorite'

Favourite vs. Favorite: Unraveling the Linguistic Differences

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Derek Cupp

By Derek Cupp

Let’s dive right into the heart of a linguistic mystery that’s puzzled many: favorite vs. favourite. Is there a tangible difference? Why do we have two spellings for the same word?

In essence, it’s all about geography and history. I’ll tell you upfront that ‘favorite’ is preferred in American English, while ‘favourite’ is the accepted spelling in British English. But how did this divergence come to be?

This article will take you on an enlightening journey through the maze of language evolution, standardization processes, and cultural nuances that led to these variations. So buckle up — it’s time to satisfy your curiosity!

FavouriteTea is my favourite hot beverage.“Favourite” is the British English spelling of the word meaning preferred or held dear. In this context, it denotes a preferred hot beverage.
FavoriteMy favorite season is spring.“Favorite” is the American English spelling of the word meaning preferred or held dear. In this context, it denotes a preferred season.
FavouriteFootball is the national favourite sport in the UK.“Favourite” used to describe a thing that is the most popular, in this case, football is the most popular sport in the UK.
FavoriteBaseball is a favorite pastime in America.“Favorite” in this context is used to describe a thing that is popular or commonly enjoyed, in this case, baseball being a commonly enjoyed pastime in America.
FavouriteThe blue dress is my favourite.“Favourite” here signifies a higher degree of liking towards one item among others, in this case, a preference for the blue dress over other dresses.
FavoriteHis favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate.“Favorite” in this sentence is used to describe the ice cream flavor that is liked best by the individual, indicating a preference for chocolate over other flavors.
FavouriteHer favourite artist is Van Gogh.“Favourite” is used to indicate the artist who is most preferred or admired by her, in this case, Van Gogh.
FavoriteMy favorite book is “To Kill a Mockingbird”.“Favorite” in this context is used to express the book that the speaker likes the best, indicating a preference for “To Kill a Mockingbird” over other books.
FavouriteRed roses are her favourite.“Favourite” is used to express the type of roses that are most liked or preferred by her, in this case, red roses.
FavoriteHis favorite movie is “The Godfather”.“Favorite” signifies the movie that the person likes the most, showing a preference for “The Godfather” over other movies.

Origin and Use of ‘Favorite’ and ‘Favourite’

Let’s dive into the etymology of these two spellings: ‘favorite’ and ‘favourite’. The word originates from the Latin term “favoritus,” meaning “favored”. In 16th century, it made its way into English language via French. While both versions mean exactly the same thing – a person or thing preferred above others – they’re used in different regions.

Typically, ‘favorite’ is preferred by folks in the United States, while most other English-speaking countries use ‘favourite’. It’s a classic example of American and British spelling differences, which can be traced back to Noah Webster. He was an influential figure who sought to simplify English spelling conventions during the early years of American independence. His mission led him to drop what he considered unnecessary letters from certain words – hence ‘color’ instead of ‘colour’, ‘center’ not ‘centre’, and yes, you’ve guessed it right – ‘favorite’, not ‘favourite’.

But let’s not get carried away with all these linguistics! Understanding when to use each version simply comes down to your audience:

  • Use ‘favorite’ if: You’re writing for an American audience.

  • Use ‘favourite’ if: Your readers are from outside U.S., especially if they’re located in a country that uses British English.

To make it even clearer, I’ll share some real-life examples:


Preferred Spelling

Writing an email to my friend living in New York


Posting on a blog followed primarily by UK audiences


Submitting an article for an international publication


Just remember: whether you lean towards using favorite or favourite depends entirely on who’ll read your work. As long as you keep this rule thumb in mind, you should avoid any linguistic faux pas!

Divergent Spelling: American vs. British English

Peeking into the English language, I’ve noticed that there’s a peculiar quirk we often overlook – spelling variations between American and British dialects. Yes, you heard right! ‘Favorite’ and ‘favourite’ aren’t typos of each other; they’re perfect examples of this linguistic phenomenon.

Now, let’s talk about why we have these differences in the first place. It all started with Noah Webster, an American lexicographer who decided to simplify some British spellings. He believed it would make the language easier to learn and more logical. And just like that, color replaced colour, honor took over from honour, and so on.

Take ‘favorite’ for instance – it’s spelt with an ‘or’ in the US while its UK counterpart adds a ‘u’ making it ‘favourite’. This pattern extends to words like humor/humour, color/colour or labor/labour among others.

It might be surprising but here’s another twist: not all words follow this rule! Some words keep their ‘u’ in American English such as curious or furious.

Let me share a simple markdown table showing how these spellings differ:


American English

British English










As someone engrossed by language nuances, I find these distinctions fascinating! It’s important to note though – neither version is incorrect. They’re simply variations developed over time due to geographical separation and cultural influences.

So next time you come across a word spelled differently than what you’re used to, don’t be too quick to flag it as wrong! It could just be another example of the rich diversity within our globalized world of English.

Conclusion: Embracing Linguistic Variation

Let’s face it, the English language is a fascinating creature. It’s constantly evolving and expanding, adopting new words and expressions from different cultures around the world. That’s what makes it so vibrant and colorful but also what makes it sometimes challenging to master.

Diving into the depths of “favourite” versus “favorite”, we’ve seen how these two spellings symbolize more than just a simple letter difference. They reflect diverse linguistic pathways that shape our understanding of English on both sides of the Atlantic.

Now, you might be wondering why I’m emphasizing this point. Well, it’s because recognizing these variations can only enrich our appreciation for this global language we share. So why not embrace them with open arms? After all, whether you’re in London enjoying your favourite cup of tea or in New York sipping on your favorite coffee blend, you’re still relishing in life’s little pleasures!

But don’t forget – when writing for an international audience, consistency is key. If you start your article using American spelling conventions (like “color” instead of “colour”), stick to them throughout your piece. The same rule applies if you opt for British spelling norms (“centre” not “center”). This helps keep things clear for your reader and adds to their overall reading experience.

Bottom line? Don’t shy away from exploring linguistic diversity! Whether you’re a writer, a student, or simply someone who loves learning about language like me, bear in mind that each variation carries unique cultural nuances worth celebrating.

  • For American readers: favorite

  • For British readers: favourite

Isn’t it wonderful how one word can paint such a vivid picture of our shared yet varied human experiences? Now that’s something I find truly fascinating! So here’s my final takeaway: Let’s continue exploring these differences together – they’re what make our linguistic journey so exciting and worthwhile!

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