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Program vs Programme: The Differences

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Program and Programme are homophones, which means they have the same sound but a distinct spelling, use, and meaning. In the UK, the term "program" predominated till the nineteenth century, when the spelling "programme" gained popularity, primarily as a result of French, which also contains the same word. 

The main difference between program and programme is in the language - American vs. British English. The term ‘program’ is used for everything in American English, whereas the term ‘programme’ is used in British English unless they are referring to computers. 

However, the words ‘program’ and ‘programme’ are acceptable in Australian English. This blog post will further discuss the differences in more detail. We will also discuss how these two words are used in regular English.

What is a Program?

A program is a set of instructions that a computer can follow to perform a task. Programs are written in a specific programming language, which provides a structure for the code as well as a set of rules that the programmer must follow.

Once a program is written, it must be compiled, or translated, into a form that the computer can understand. Once it has been compiled, the program can be run, or executed, and will carry out the instructions that it has been programmed to do.

Programs can range from simple scripts that perform basic tasks to complex applications that solve complex problems. Regardless of their size or complexity, all programs are ultimately sets of instructions that tell a computer what to do.

The term ‘program’ is used predominantly in American English which could also signify any of the following purposes:

  • A plan or outline of a day or an event - for example, the university has started a new research program.
  • A company’s plan or strategy - for example, the company's green revolution program- is gaining popularity.
  • A show broadcasted on TV or radio - for example, F.R.I.E.N.D.S is my favorite TV program.
  • Language of a computer- A collection of guidelines used by a computer to carry out a certain task is known as a computer program. Program is how both British and American English spell this term. For example, I'm learning a new computer programming language.

What is a Programme?

British English prefers the term ‘programme’ rather than ‘program’ except when discussing computer languages. They use it for itineraries, TV shows, as well as work projects. 

For example,

  • I watched a programme on child marriage.
  • My friends are coming over from Canada, and I have made our whole day programme of outings.
  • I'm performing as Juliet in my school’s annual programme.
  • Our president has launched a new programme on women’s education.

Key Differences between Programme and Program

Differences in the definition in American and British English

There are several interpretations of the term "program" in American English, but the majority concern a plan or system of steps that must be taken in a certain order. For instance, when you enter a theater or stadium, you could be given a programme list that includes the performers' credentials, the event schedule, or the player lineups for each team. Or it can mean a television show or planned series.

Program is spelled differently in British English as "programme," yet both words relate to an agenda or framework in a certain order, like a theater's programme. Furthermore, programs can refer to the collection of ciphered instructions that a computer obeys to complete a given task in American as well as British English.

Differences in the use of language

The program can be used as a verb or a noun, but programme can never be used as a verb. The following examples show how a program can be used as a verb as well as a noun:

  • Please program the school’s annual function before lunch break.
  • Do you know how to program the computer for alarms?
  • My father watches the NEWS program every night.

Comparison Chart: Program Vs Programme

MeaningIt implies deciding, altering, controlling, generating a consequence, etc.It denotes a strategy for achieving a certain goal and a list of deeds or actions connected to an event.
Use as nounProgram is a noun and a verb.This is strictly a noun.
Agenda of useAccording to UK English, it may be used for anything in US English or computer-related tasks.
British English uses the word "programme" to refer to TV shows, meeting agendas or other events, collections of projects, etc., but American English does not.
ExamplesShe asked the Tech geek to program the computer today.According to the show's programme, my act will be towards the climax.


Is programme the plural form of program?

No, a programme is not the plural form of a program. They are used to signify plans and agendas in different parts of the world, where they have almost similar meanings.

What is the plural form of programme?

Programme, being significantly used in Britain, is a variant of Program, whose plural form is programmes.

Program or Programme- which is the correct spelling in Australian English?

The spelling ‘program’ is mostly used in American and Australian English. The spelling ‘programme’ is not the preferred spelling.

Can we use ‘programme’ to signify computer languages?

No, the spelling ‘programme’ is never used in the context of computers, whether it is American English, British English, or Australian English.


Homophones are sometimes difficult to interpret, and this brings a state of confusion even when they have similar meanings. For example, scholars and common readers have been uncertain of the use and meaning of the two words ‘program’ and ‘programme.’ Still, this article clarifies the divergence between the two beautifully.


Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
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About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
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