Canceling or Cancelling, Canceled or Cancelled? Which is Correct?

Canceling or cancelling? Canceled or cancelled?

Which are correct? The answer is all of them! They all come from the verb “cancel.” The difference is whether you are writing to a British or American audience.

The reason canceling and cancelling are spelled differently is because is it preferred to spell it with one l in American English whereas it is spelled with two l in the British English spelling.

Is canceling spelled with one ‘l’ or two?

There are two correct spellings of the verb “cancel.” The first is to write “cancelling” or “cancelled,” with an “ll” at the end. The second is to write it as a word with one l, i.e., “canceling” or “canceled.”

The difference is that canceled and canceling are the American spellings, typically used in the United States. Cancelling and cancelled are the British English spellings.

Two L’s is the preferred spelling in other English-speaking countries, such as Ireland, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

We can also sometimes see a double “ll” in cancelled and cancelling in American English. You will sometimes notice a double “ll” in American books and even popular publications such as the New York Times.

Cancelled Vs. Canceled: British English and American English Spelling

  • The launch of the event has been cancelled. (British English spelling)
  • The event was canceled and postponed for another day. (American English spelling)

Example of a sentence with ‘cancel’ and American English/British Spelling: The pilot was forced to cancel the flight.

Cancelling Vs. Canceling: British English and American English Spelling

Example of a sentence with ‘canceling and cancelling.’

  • The girl cancelled the order for her pizza. (British English Spelling)
  • The airline canceled hundreds of flights due to extreme weather conditions. (American English Spelling)

There are examples of the word cancelled in American English and canceled in British English, so you needn’t feel worried if you use the spelling that is less common where you live.

Why did Cancelled become Canceled?

In the past, dictionaries helped solidify the spellings of many forms of English. The dictionaries were likely taking note of the orthographic variations that existed at the time.

Noah Webster, an American lexicographer, played an important role in shaping American English, with American publications following spellings given in Webster’s dictionary.

In 1806, Webster’s version of the dictionary had cancelled as the past tense of the verb. However, in Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English language published in 1828, the word is spelled as canceled.

The British primarily followed Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language, first published in 1755. This influential dictionary spelled it with a double L. Mr. Webster, on the other hand, was always looking for simplified spellings of the British counterparts. There it was decided not to double the final unstressed L.

Which spelling should I use?

In Rome, do what the Roman’s do!

The recommended spelling will depend on who your audience is and using the spelling that others in your region use.

Which is correct cancelation or cancellation?

Cancellation is nearly always spelled with a double L regardless of where the person is from or lives.

Cancelation (spelled with one ‘l’) is rarely used, but it is considered correct.

Example of a sentence with the word cancellation: The last-minute flight cancellation disrupted the passengers’ travel plans.

Is it spelled canceled or cancelled in Canada?

It is usually spelled cancelled in Canada (with a double L).

Other Examples of One ‘l’ Spellings Vs. Two ‘ll’ Spellings

Here are some different spellings of common words in American and British English.

Travel

Travelling, travelled (British English)

Traveling, traveled (American English)

Model

Modelling, modelled (British English)

Modeling, modeled (American English)

Label

Labelling, labelled (British English)

Labeling, labeled (American English)

Counsel

Counselling, counselled (British English)

Counseling, counseled (American English)

Fuel

Fuelling, fuelled (British English)

Fueling, fueled (American English)

Quarrel

Quarelling, quarrelled (British English)

Quareling, quareled (American English)

Initial

Initialling, initialled (British English)

Initialing, initialed (American English)

Signal

Signalling, signalled (British English)

Signaling, signaled (American English)

On the other hand, when Americans like to stress the final syllable of a word, they often use a double “ll.”

For example:

Compel

Compelled, compelling (American English and British English)

Rebel

Rebelled-rebelling (American English and British English)

Related: What is cancel culture?

Cancel culture is a term that has been associated with the online outrage and mob justice that often sweeps across the internet, where people or organizations are punished for saying or doing controversial things.

A more tame version of this is “call-out culture,” when someone is criticised by the public for their words or actions or asked to explain themselves.

What does it mean to cancel someone?

If someone influential says something deemed offensive in the public eye, they will often be shunned off the face of the internet even if they apologize and admit their wrongdoings. We say that this person “is cancelled.”

In Conclusion

There is no one correct spelling of “cancelling,” “canceling,” “canceled” and “cancelled.” While it may have a preferred spelling depending on the state or region, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t follow this general rule when writing a formal letter or typing on social media.

British spellings and American English spellings can vary especially where the L is not stressed in a word.

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