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Color Vs Colour: What is the Difference?

Published November 21, 2021

Colour and color are two words that are often confused. Color and Colour are two words that many people use interchangeably. But, what is the difference? This blog post will break down the difference between Color and Colour for you! In general, the word 'color' is used in American English, and 'Colour' is used in British English.

What is Color or Colour?

Color is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, blue, yellow, and others. Color derives from the spectrum of light (distribution of light energy versus wavelength) interacting in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of cone cells in human eyes; this determines not only whether an area has a color or not but also its colorfulness or brightness.

There are many other factors that affect the way we perceive color, such as environmental context and how light interacts with a surface's surroundings. Color is a property based on how an object reflects or emits electromagnetic radiation. Colour is an element of the visual representation in your brain.

Key differences between color & colour

Usage in the English language

There is a major difference between American English and British English in terms of spelling. Both use different words for certain things like "center" vs "centre". The word for color varies depending on where you live too!

The difference between color and colour is mainly one of language. In the English-speaking world, Americans use the word “color” as opposed to “colour” whereas in many other languages it's vice versa. The only time you should be using the term ‘colour' is when writing for a British audience.

FAQs

Do Canadians spell color as colour?

Canadians most often spell color as colour. Canadians are one of the few English-speaking people that do this.

Do Americans spell color as colour?

Americans most often spell color as color. In fact, the spelling of colour is recognized in American dictionaries and publications to be a misspelling.

When was the word “color” added to English?

The word color is very old in English. It dates back to when Middle English was spoken, sometime in the 14th century. But it wasn't until many years later that people started spelling it as colour. The spelling changed to colour along with other words that had the "or" sound at the end of them, such as honour and labour. Nobody really knows who came up with this rule or why it was decided upon but it has been followed by many people over a long period of time.

Conclusion

The difference between color and colour is often misunderstood. It’s important to learn how to use these words correctly, based on the English you're using.  In the US, color is typically used. In Canada and other Commonwealth countries, colour is more common due to the British influence some had on them. It’s not hard to use these words correctly once you know where they are usually used!

References

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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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