Main Cancelled or Canceled Takeaways:
- Canceled and cancelled are both correct spellings.
- The only difference is regional. American English prefers the single-L spelling while British English prefers the two Ls.
- Cancelling and canceling follow the same regional preferences as cancelled and canceled.
- Always spell cancellation with two Ls.
- The single-L variation originates from an American trend to simplify spellings.
Which is Correct: Cancelled or Canceled?
Cancelled or canceled are both correct spellings for the past tense of the verb to cancel. The only difference between them is regional. For example, canceled (one L) is more common in American English. On the other hand, cancelled (two Ls) is more common in British English and other dialects. Similarly, cancelling with two Ls is more popular in British English while canceling with one L is the preferred spelling in the United States. However, there is only one correct way to spell cancellation. It’s important to note that the correct way to spell cancellation is always with two Ls, no matter your location.
Is it Cancelled or Canceled in Canada?
Canadians spell cancelled the British way with two Ls. While Canada is located in North America, the country is still part of the British Commonwealth. Therefore, Canadians tend to speak and write British English. Similarly, cancelled has two Ls in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and other Commonwealth countries.
When Did Cancelled Become Canceled?
Cancelled became canceled most likely between 1806 and 1828. For instance, in the 1806 version of Webster’s Dictionary, the word two L-spelling of the past tense verb appears. However, in the 1828 edition, the one L-version canceled appeared. As a result, some grammar history buffs credit Noah Webster of Webster’s Dictionaries with the American English spelling of canceled. He believed that many British English spellings were unnecessarily complex. For this reason, he aimed to simply many British spellings into their modern American equivalents.
In addition to cancelled becoming canceled, the 1828 Edition featured other American “improvements” like:
- waggon to wagon
- centre to center
- apologise to apologize
It’s not certain if these 19th-century dictionaries created the spelling difference. However, Webster’s newest volumes often included the most common variation at the time.
If you look at U.S. versus U.K. spellings, you’ll notice plenty of spelling differences. For example, U.S. versions are often shorter and simpler. They usually also follow the pronunciation more closely.
Other examples of British/American spelling differences include:
Cancellation: The Exception to The Rule
There are two acceptable past tense spellings of the verb to cancel.
However, there is only one acceptable spelling for the noun cancellation. Always spell cancellation with two Ls, whether speak British or American English.
Recap: Canceled vs. Cancelled
It’s every traveler’s nightmare. Snow is falling. Ice covers roads and runways. All flights are canceled…
…or are they cancelled?
If you’re wondering whether to use cancelled or canceled, well, it might depend on where you’re from.
It’s easy to forget an L when there should be two or to add an L when there should only be one. Here’s the bottom line. Whether you spell it cancelled or canceled, it doesn’t really matter.
Despite each country’s spelling preferences, they’re just that—preferences. Neither way is actually wrong.
If you’re in the United States and want to add that extra L, go ahead. Be bold! Be a rebel!
If you’re in Great Britain and want to leave off that second L, go for it. No matter how you spell it, you won’t be wrong.
Is it Cancelled or Canceled? See how you Score
Cancelled or Canceled Question #1
The answer is TRUE. Both words refer to the past tense of cancel.
Canceled Question #2
The answer is D. There's a single 'l' in the American spelling.
Cancelled Question #3
The answer is B. The second 'l' was dropped from cancelled in the 1828 edition of Webster's Dictionary.
Cancelled vs Canceled Question #4
The answer is D. The American spelling of the word colour is color.
Cancellation Question #5
The answer is A. The spelling for cancellation remains the same, whether it’s American or British English.