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What is the difference between aluminum and aluminium?

Aluminum is the American spelling and aluminium is the British spelling for this ductile, malleable silver-white metal.

In 1812, its discoverer, Sir H. Davy, first called the metal alumium but then modified the word. This is one of a number of spelling differences between British and American English, such as: aeroplane/airplane, aesthetics/esthetics, colour/color, encyclopaedia/encyclopedia, paralyse/paralyze. The principle differences are: 1) a final -l is always doubled after one vowel in stressed and unstressed syllables in British English, but usually only in stressed syllables in American English; 2) some words end in -tre in British English and -terin American English; 3) some words end in -ogue in British English and -og in American English; 4) some words end in -our in British English and -or in American English; and 5) some verbs end in -ize or -ise in British English, but only in -ize in American English. In common speech, some 4,000 words are used differently in the UK from the United States.

10 Comments

  1. Gracc -  September 20, 2016 - 12:09 pm

    I’ve never heard anyone say ‘esthetic’ here.

    Reply
  2. Chris -  July 22, 2016 - 11:23 pm

    Britain, Britain came first.

    Looking at that list of words it like America was the thick child…

    They got somewhere near what the spelling should be and just went with what they thought sounded right and to hell with the correct way.

    Reply
    • yurei -  July 26, 2016 - 2:43 pm

      How do you think a 13th century Englishman would feel about modern British English ?

      Reply
    • Chris -  July 27, 2016 - 10:20 pm

      We just go out of our way to not do things like the French. You should try it sometime, bud. At least, that’s if you’re not too attached to the colououououuur of your accent.

      Reply
      • John -  August 1, 2016 - 5:17 am

        The ‘our’ part of colour and similar words came from a Norman (i.e. French) influence on the English language. Just sayin’.

        Reply
    • Robert -  September 6, 2016 - 6:44 pm

      Well, instead of being the thick child, you mean the progressive language. Languages have evolved over time to become clearer and more concise while still conveying the same message. In this example, Aluminum vs Aluminium, the American spelling takes one fewer syllable to say, making it objectively the better spelling as it conveys the same message as the British spelling while taking less time to say. However, Aluminium is undoubtedly more fun to say. ALUMINIUM!!!!!

      Reply
  3. Johnny -  June 30, 2016 - 1:11 pm

    Hahahaha, that’s why the British hate Americans.

    Reply
  4. Nigel -  June 3, 2016 - 11:16 am

    Which one came first?

    Reply
    • Johnny -  June 30, 2016 - 1:10 pm

      The Egg

      Reply
      • Not Johnny -  August 7, 2016 - 1:14 am

        No! The chicken!

        Reply

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