Behaviour or Behavior | Meaning, Spelling & Examples

UK vs US updated on  January 9, 2024 3 min read
Behaviour and behavior are different spellings of the noun used to refer to the way someone or something behaves or acts. The spelling depends on the type of English you use.

  • In British English, “behaviour” is standard.
  • In American English, “behavior” is correct.
It's important to choose one type of English and use it consistently. The QuillBot Grammar Checker can help you with this.


Examples: Behaviour or behavior in a sentence
The principal praised the students for their exemplary behaviour/behavior.
Logan's erratic behaviour/behavior raised concerns among his friends and family.
The study of consumer behaviour/behavior is vital for product development.

Behavior or behaviour is often preceded by an attributive noun (e.g., “animal behavior/behaviour”) or an adjective (e.g., “good behavior/behaviour”).


Behavioural or behavioral

The same distinction applies to related forms of the word, such as the adverb behaviourally or behaviorally and the adjective behavioural or behavioral.

  • In British English, “behaviourally” and "behavioural" are standard.
  • In American English, “behaviorally” and "behavioral" are correct.
Examples: Behaviourally/behaviorally and behavioural/behavioral in a sentence
I realize that dogs and cats are behaviourally/behaviorally very different.
The psychologist specializes in behavioural/behavioral issues in children.

Main differences between American and British English

American and British English are very similar, but there are a few main differences in spelling. Five important differences are:


Difference

Rule

Examples

-or vs -our

In American English, many Latin-derived words end in -or.

In British English, these same words end in -our.

Behavior or behaviour
Labor or labour
Favor or favour
Favorite or favourite
Color or colour
Honor or honour

-er vs -re

In American English, some French, Latin, or Greek words end in -er.

In British English, these same words end in -re.

Theater or theatre
Center or centre
Meter or metre
Liter or litre
Saber or sabre
Fiber or fibre

-ize vs -ise

In American English, many Greek-derived words end in -yze or -ize.

In British English, these words end in -yse or -ise.

Realize or realise
Recognize or recognise
Analyze or analyse
Organisation or organization
Minimize or minimise
Finalize or finalise

-ed vs -t

In American English, most verbs are regular and form their past tense with the suffix -ed.

In British English, some of these verbs are irregular and form their past tense with the suffix -t.

Learned or learnt
Burned or burnt
Kneeled or knelt
Dreamed or dreamt
Smelled or smelt
Spelled or spelt

Single vs double consonant

In American English, many words are spelled with a single consonant.

In British English, these same words are spelled with a double consonant.

Modeling or modelling
Traveling or travelling
Canceled or cancelled
Labeled or labelled
Buses or busses
Focused or focussed

Do you want to know more about common mistakes, commonly confused words, rhetorical devices, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


Common mistakes

US vs UK

Rhetoric

Irregardless vs regardless

Burnt or burned

Situational irony

Lable or label

Dreamed or dreamt

Trope

Now a days or nowadays

Kneeled or knelt

Metaphor

Every time or everytime

Smelled or smelt

Consonance

Alot or a lot

Travelling or traveling

Rhyme


Frequently asked questions about behaviour or behavior

Is it behavior or behaviour in Canada?

Behaviour and behavior are two spellings of the same noun. The spelling depends on the type of English.

  • In British English, you use “behaviour.”
  • In American English, you use “behavior.”

Canadian English mainly follows UK guidelines, so behaviour is the correct spelling.

The same difference applies to similar words, such as “honor or honour,” “labor or labour,” “favor or favour,” “favorite or favourite,” “color or colour,” and “humor or humour.”

It's important to choose one type of English and use it consistently. The QuillBot Grammar Checker can help you with this.

Is it behavior or behaviour in Australia?

Behaviour and behavior are two spellings of the same noun. The spelling depends on the type of English.

  • In British English, you use "behaviour."
  • In American English, you use "behavior."

Australian English mainly follows UK guidelines, so behaviour is the correct spelling.

The same difference applies to similar words, such as “honor or honour,” “labor or labour,” “favor or favour,” “favorite or favourite,” “color or colour,” and “humor or humour.”

It's important to choose one type of English and use it consistently. The QuillBot Grammar Checker can help you with this.

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Julia Merkus

Julia has master's degrees in Linguistics and Language and speech pathology. Her expertise lies in grammar, language and speech disorders, foreign language learning, and child language acquisition.

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