Is It Color or Colour? | Meaning, Spelling & Examples

UK vs US updated on  January 10, 2024 3 min read
Color and colour are two ways of spelling the same noun, meaning “shade” or “hue.” It can also be used as a verb to mean “change something’s color” (e.g., by painting). The spelling depends on the version of English you use.

  • In American English, “color” is correct.
  • In British English, “colour” is standard.
It’s important to choose one spelling and use it consistently. The QuillBot Grammar Checker can help you with this.

Examples: Color or colour in a sentence
Hank's favorite color/colour is green.
I love your ginger hair! Did you color/colour it?
The children eagerly sat down to color/colour in the doctor's practice.

The plural noun form is colors or colours.


The same spelling difference applies to the adjective colorful or colourful, the past tense/past participle verb (or adjective) colored or coloured, and the present participle or gerund coloring or colouring.

  • In American English, "colorful," "colored," and "coloring" are correct.
  • In British English, “colourful,” "coloured," and “colouring” are standard.
Examples: Words related to color or colour in a sentence
Her dress was so colorful/colourful that it brightened up the entire room.
The tattoo artist colored/coloured in the intricate design on the client's arm.
I was coloring/colouring Lydia's hair when I noticed I'd run out of hair dye.

Expressions with color or colour

Color or colour is used in many idioms. The spelling difference carries over to these too.


Expression

Meaning

Wake up, Adam! You're viewing the world through rose-colored/coloured glasses.

Having a naively positive perspective on something

I thought I failed the test, but I passed with flying colors/colours.

Doing something exceptionally well

I wish I'd seen your true colors/colours before I married you!

Seeing someone’s true character (normally with a negative connotation)

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 commas, parts of speech, email, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


Commas

Parts of speech

Commonly confused words

Comma before because

Nouns

Flier vs flyer

Comma before such as

Collective nouns

Its vs it’s

Comma splice

Verbs

Use to or used to

Comma before or after but

Noun clauses

Alright vs all right

Comma before too

Predicate nominative

Affective vs effective


Frequently asked questions about color or colour

Is it color or colour in Australia?

Color and colour are two spellings of the same noun (which can also be used as a verb). The spelling depends on the type of English.

  • In American English, you use “color.”
  • In British English, you use “colour.”

Australian English mostly follows UK guidelines, so colour is standard.

The same difference applies to similar words, such as “behaviour or behavior,” “honor or honour,” “labor or labour,” “favorite or favourite,” “favor or favour,” 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 color or colour in Canada?

Color and colour are two spellings of the same noun (which can also be used as a verb). The spelling depends on the type of English.

  • In American English, you use “color.”
  • In British English, you use “colour.”

Canadian English mostly follows UK guidelines, so colour is standard.

The same difference applies to similar words, such as “behaviour or behavior,” “honor or honour,” “labor or labour,” “favorite or favourite,” “favor or favour,” 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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