Cancelled or Canceled: Which is Correct?

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What is the past tense of the word “cancel”? It seems that there is some confusion over whether the correct spelling is cancelled or canceled.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, both spellings are considered acceptable. Whether you choose to use cancelled or canceled is up to you.

Is canceled spelled with one ‘l’ or two?

The answer is both! In American English, the spelling with one ‘l’ (canceled) is more common, whereas, in British English, the spelling with two ‘l’s (cancelled) is more common.

Ultimately, it depends on the style guide your company or publication decides to employ. For example, the AP style guide recommends sticking to one ‘l.’ Whatever style you decide, make sure to stick with it.

So, which spelling should you use?

If you’re writing for an American audience, it’s probably best to stick with the spelling canceled. If you’re writing for a British audience, it’s probably best to stick with the spelling cancelled. And, if you’re unsure of your audience or you want to be safe, you can always use the spelling cancelled (with two ‘l’).

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Example Sentences with Canceled and Cancelled

  • The party was canceled due to the rain.
  • We cancelled our trip to the beach.
  • I’m sorry, your order has been cancelled.
  • The show has been cancelled.
  • Please enter your credit card information or the order will be canceled.
  • I’m afraid your reservation has been cancelled.

We can also call a famous person cancelled if they do something wrong that upsets the public. Cancelled in this case means to remove someone from the public eye. It is an attempt to strip them from their fame.

Recent Headlines

“Thousands of British Airways flights cancelled over coming months.”

Daily Mail

“If I get canceled, let them eat me alive.”

The New York Times

Is it cancelled or canceled in Canada?

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary lists cancelled as the preferred spelling. The double ‘l’ is used in most countries except the U.S.

Is it cancelled or canceled in Australia?

The Australian National Dictionary has cancelled as the preferred spelling.

Cancelling or Canceling?

Cancelling and canceling act in the same way as our above examples.

Cancelation or Cancellation?

We usually spell it cancellation with a double ‘l.’ It is rarely spelt with one ‘l.’

Canceled or Cancelled: Summary

So, is it cancelled or canceled? The answer is both! In American English, the spelling with one ‘l’ (canceled) is more frequently used, whereas, in British English, the spelling with two ‘l’s (cancelled) is more common.

So, there you have it! Whether you choose to spell it cancelled or canceled, you’re likely to be correct. Just remember to be consistent in whatever spelling you choose.

I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.

I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!

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