Favorite vs. Favourite: What’s The Difference?

One of the most difficult languages in the world to learn is English. There are many contradictions to the rules and many complications. People who attempt to learn English as their second language often struggle with grammar because of the many rules English seems to break. There are a lot of words that you have to memorize in order to spell correctly because they don’t have a specific format. However, there are some words that are interchangeable because they mean the exact same thing. 

English is the most widely used language in both the United States and the United Kingdom. However, despite a common backstory, the two regions are separated by a lot of spelling differences. There are also other varieties of English such as Canadian English or even New Zealand and Australian English. The different spellings in American English and British English are usually very subtle, but they still exist today to confuse people. You might see a word that you thought you knew spelled differently and think, “wait, have I been spelling that wrong this whole time?” The answer is no, you haven’t, but certain people prefer their version of the word to be used in context. 

Let’s take a look at the very common word favorite and its alternative spelling.

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

Definition of Favorite

A good place to start when understanding a word is with its definition. The dictionary defines favorite as “preferred before all others of the same kind” or “one that is treated or regarded with special favor or liking.” 

People often use the word favorite to describe the best version of something that they like. For example, a favorite song, favorite color, or favorite place. These things, of course, are subjective and are different for everyone. Someone’s favorite pizza topping could be someone else’s least favorite. You can also say that a sports team is “a big favorite” to win the game. 

History and Origin of the Word

Another way to learn more about a word and how it is used is by looking at the history and origin. According to the etymology of the word favorite, it is from the 1580s and came from the Middle French word, “favorit” and the Italian word “favorito”. The Latin word “favorem” is also quite similar to the root of favorite and meant “inclination, partiality or support.”

It started to be used as an adjective in the 1700s meaning “regarded with particular liking”.

Synonyms of Favorite

Exploring words with similar definitions is an excellent way to really understand how to properly implement a word into your own vocabulary. That way you can relate the word to others you are already familiar with. Here are some common synonyms for the word favorite:

  • Treasured: a person whom the speaker loves or who is valued for the assistance they can give.
  • Choice: an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.
  • Preferred: like (one thing or person) better than another or others; tend to choose.
  • Ideal: satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable.

Example Sentences of the Word in Context

Another great way to learn how to use a word is to explore the word being used with the correct spelling.  Either reading the word in its proper context or hearing someone else use it in conversation.  Here are some common examples of the words favorite and favourite:

  • I wanted to take you to this spot on the beach because it is my favorite.
  • The one thing they seemed to have in common was that both of their favorite colors were blue. 
  • Noah kept asking to play the board game because it was his favorite one to play, in fact, he plays it every day.
  • My list of favourite vegetables includes broccoli, cabbage, and carrots. 

Is Favourite Different?

You may have seen the word favorite spelled like favourite. If this looks wrong to you, then you are probably from America. Both words are identical in meaning, but are spelled differently in America and in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world. The British English spelling is favourite whereas the American English spelling is favorite. 

There is no correct way to spell the word, and it does not matter which one you pick because both spellings are correct. This is true for a lot of words that have become “Americanized.” 

American vs. British Spellings

There are many words that have a British spelling and an American spelling. Some of these are:

  • Color vs. Colour
  • Flavor vs. Flavour
  • Honor vs. Honour
  • Rumor vs. Rumour

Both versions of all these words are correct, so they can be used interchangeably. 

Samuel Johnson is one of the reasons that the British language is the way it is. Johnson was a British lexicographer that preferred the -our ending for words. Whereas Noah Webster, who was an American lexicographer wanted to make the English language “Americanized’. So, in 1828 he provided -or endings on many words that had previously had -our. 

It seems as though Australians and Canadians also prefer the -our spelling of words, as evident in many of their publications.  

In Summary

The English language is borrowed so much from other languages that it sometimes makes you scratch your head and wonder how people learn it. Words with silent letters like “tsunami” could keep you up at night. It is no wonder that it is hard to understand part of English when the rules are not black and white.  

Hopefully, after reading about the definition of the word favorite, its origin and history, as well as some synonyms and examples of the word, you feel more prepared to use the word in your own vocabulary. 

Don’t let anyone make you feel less than for using the British version of the word favourite. It is grammatically correct in all situations that you would use the word favorite. 


7. https://thewordcounter.com/is-vs-are/ 
8. https://thewordcounter.com/blog-comma-before-so/
9. https://thewordcounter.com/blog-word-to-use-very/