Canceled or cancelled?

Canceled or Cancelled?

What is the Difference Between Canceled and Cancelled?  

Canceled and cancelled are alternate spellings of the same word.

Canceled is the simple past form of the verb cancel. Its primary meaning is to decide a scheduled event will not occur. The spelling with a single l is more common in American English.

  • The coach canceled soccer practice because of the bad weather.

Cancelled is exactly the same as canceled, but the spelling with the double l is more common in British English.

  • The boss cancelled the meeting because she came down with the flu.

Now, let’s go over the specific ways each of these spellings are used.

Using Canceled in a Sentence

When to use canceled: Canceled is the past simple and past participle form of the verb cancel. It can mean revoke, call off, invalidate, neutralize, or to close (in the sense of an account).

The spelling with one l is the preferred American spelling.

For example,

  • The man canceled his gym membership in an effort to save money.
  • The couple canceled their wedding when they learned of each others’ infidelities.

When used in the sense of neutralize, cancel often appears as the phrasal verb cancel out.

  • The mean girl seemed to believe that her compliment canceled out her insult.
  • The religious murderer hoped that his good deeds canceled out his evil ones.

Cancel has Latin roots, and originally meant to cross out.

Using Cancelled in a Sentence

When to use cancelled: Cancelled is an alternate spelling of canceled, and, therefore, has the same pronunciation, meaning, and usage. The only difference is that the double l spelling is more common in British English.

For example:

  • That American band has cancelled all of its concerts here in Britain!
  • The Queen of England cancelled her scheduled appearance at the public event due to concerns about riots.

Most English speaking countries, with the exception of America, will follow the British English spelling.

Remembering Canceled vs. Cancelled

One way to remember which spelling is preferred in American English versus British English is to think of the history behind each.

Americans wanted independence from Britain, and because of that, they wanted to show that they were culturally different as well. One way Americans tried to show these differences was through spelling. Americans tried to simplify spelling by removing letters that they thought were unnecessary.

Therefore, when trying to remember which spelling is the American spelling, look for the word with fewer letters.

Outside Examples

  • Nationwide, airlines had grounded 1,675 flights as of 1 p.m. ET Sunday, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. The bulk of those came in Houston and at other Texas airports, many preemptively canceled sometime on Saturday. –USA Today
  • A Florida hospital’s foundation said Thursday that it had canceled plans to hold a fundraiser luncheon at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club this November, becoming the 18th charity to cut ties with the club after Trump’s comments on the violent protests in Charlottesville. –Washington Post
  • The 24th Annual TransCanada Theater District Open House, scheduled for this Sunday, Aug. 27, has been cancelled due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Harvey. –Houston Chronicle

Canceled or Cancelled – What’s the Difference?

There’s no doubt that those of us who live in a snowy area are familiar with these two words. Each and every year, winter snowstorms across the country disrupt travelers’ schedules and school operations by canceling flights and classes—or is it cancelling?

The two words canceled and cancelled can cause some confusion for those writers not exactly sure when to use which one. Are they just variations of the same word? Do they have different meanings? Do they have different functions in a sentence?

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In today’s post I will address all of these questions so that you will never second-guess yourself when writing these words again. So what is the difference between canceled and cancelled?

What is the Difference Between Canceled and Cancelled?

Canceled or Cancelled?Canceled and cancelled are both past tenses of the verb cancel. To cancel is to annul or invalidate; to decide or announce that planned or scheduled event will not take place. For example,

  • Due to the couple’s breakup, the wedding was canceled.
  • Airlines are doing a better job lately of arriving on time and canceling fewer flights. – The Washington Post
  • Are you cancelling our dinner plans?
  • My credit card was canceled from lack of payment.
  • It’s been two years since NBC cancelled the series, a musical drama about the making of a Broadway show. – The New Yorker

You’re probably still asking yourself, “Okay, when do I decide which one to use?”

The answer to that question is that the difference between them is entirely dialectal. There is no demonstrable difference of sense or function between them, meaning both words can be used interchangeably.

When to Use Canceled

Does canceled have one l? Even though the only thing separating these two words is a dialectical difference, it is still important to keep your audience in mind when picking which word to use and when.

Canceled vs. Cancelled

People all around the world that live in harsh climatic conditions are quite familiar with both these words. Cancelled and canceled are quite similar words, with similar meanings but different spellings and that fact causes a sense of confusion when writers use them in their writings.

With the help of this article, I will illustrate the difference between the two words, highlighting their contextual meanings. At end, I would explain a useful trick to help you utilize them accurately in your writing instantly.


The word cancel originated from late Middle English (in the sense ‘obliterate or delete writing by drawing or stamping lines across it’): from Old French canceller, from Latin cancellare, from cancelli ‘crossbars’.

Cancel as verb:

In the English language, cancel is used as a verb which refers directly to choosing not to ensure something won’t occur anymore, something that was previously decided that it would be carried out.

  • He was forced to cancel his visit.
  • Cancel also means to neutralize or negate the force or effect of (another).
  • The electric fields may cancel each other out.
  • Cancel as noun:Cancel is also used as a noun in English language which means a mark made on a postage stamp to show that it has been used.
  • A stamp franked and with an adhesive cancel.
  • Use of canceled:The only difference between the two words is the spellings and the countries they are preferred in.
  • Canceled with one alphabet of ‘L’ is American English’s preffered choice in utilization of the word in their every day language. The
  • Use of cancelled:

Cancelled with two alphabets of ‘L’ is usually preferred in the British language and hence, more commonly used all around the world.

  1. Examples:
  2. Exeter High School principal Vic Sokul has canceled dances for the rest of the school year. [New Hampshire Exeter]
  3. Canceling the contract would be cheaper but not cheap. [Chicago Tribune]
  4. Many flights have been canceled, forcing more passengers to connect at big and increasingly crowded hubs. [New York Times]
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Under current law, it is scheduled to rise to 6.8% on July 1, an increase that Obama has called for canceling. [Los Angeles Times]

  • Moriarty added that an earlier cancellation could have allowed the slot to be resold, which would have resulted in a credit being issued. [Boston Globe]
  • Allegations of black market touting by foreign Olympic committees could see thousands of tickets cancelled. [Independent]
  • Student groups say organizers of the Canadian Grand Prix overreacted in cancelling the free opening day of the event. [CBC]
  • A New Zealand freediving champion plunged to 125m on a single breath only to have what would have been a world record cancelled. [New Zealand Herald]
  • It emerged yesterday that the girl, named only as Merthe, had gone into hiding with her family after cancelling the party. [Irish Times]

Canceled or cancelled:Canceled and cancelled are both past tenses of the verb cancel. To cancel is to annul or invalidate; to decide or announce that planned or scheduled event will not take place. So, which word is which? Is it canceled or cancelled?

Both usages of the words are accurate generally in the English language but with the different countries preferring different spellings, it is important to keep the reader’s origin in mind when writing. Remember, the spicy flavor canceled how terribly the food was cooked.

Canceled or Cancelled?

The Difference Between Canceled vs. Cancelled

Canceled or Cancelled?

Why is “canceled” sometimes spelled with two l‘s? The simple answer is that “canceled” with a single l is the American spelling, and “cancelled” with two l‘s is the British spelling.

Various English-speaking countries have developed their own dialects, accents, and spellings, including “canceled” and “cancelled.”

Canceled vs. Cancelled

If you want to know more about these dialect variations, you can read our full article about the differences between American and British spellings.

Canceled in American English

In the U.S., the preferred spelling is “canceled.” This also goes for the word “canceling.”

However, this spelling preference is relatively recent, so you may still see American publications that use two l‘s.


  • School was canceled because of the snow.
  • I’m canceling dinner plans with my friends because I am not feeling well.

Cancelled in British, Canadian, and Australian English

It’s not just Brits who prefer “cancelled,” but other English speaking countries such as Canada and Australia as well.


  • The boss cancelled the meeting.
  • The band is cancelling all of its concerts here in Britain!

More Variations of Cancel

While both Americans and Brits spell “cancel” with just one l, there are other forms of the word that also vary in their use of one or two l‘s:

  • cancelers/cancellers
  • cancelable/cancellable

It is important to note, however, that the word “cancellation” does not have a single-l variation. No matter where you are, “cancellation” is spelled with two l‘s.

Have you run into other American and British spelling variations? How do you remember which is which? Share your thoughts or ask a question in the comment section below.

Want to learn more writing tips? Check out these articles:

Canceled or Cancelled?

The English language can play tricks on unsuspecting minds. One word may sound similar to the other but it could mean a totally different thing. There’s rug and rag. There’s pick and peek. One of the most common grammar problems in English is the use of canceled vs cancelled. Which is correct? How do you spell cancelled (canceled)? Is it really canceled or cancelled?

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The spelling really depends on which version of the English language you use. American English uses “canceled” with a single “l”. It follows the general rule of appending “-ed” to the end of the verb if the word ends in a consonant.

However, British English spells “cancelled” with “ll.” The British do still spell “cancel” with only one “l” though and there is only one correct spelling of “cancellation” regardless of which style of English you use.

Americans prefer to use one L while the British prefer to use two Ls.

According to Grammar Girl, the difference in usage of cancelled or canceled can be attributed to the influence of Noah Webster in shaping the American English Language as we know today.

The AP Stylebook, predominantly American, uses “canceled.” Therefore, most American publications and papers written for an American audience use “canceled” in their writing.

In addition to this, Mr. Webster has also incorporated standard American spellings that use shorter words compared to its British counterpart.

There’s color vs colour, flavor vs flavour and favor vs favour.

By principle, both canceled and cancelled are correct. However, you need to keep in mind your audience and which method they will prefer. Even if you are used to American English, if you are writing for a British, Australian or Canadian audience, you will need to adjust your writing style to communicate more effecitively.

Aside from canceled vs. cancelled, other often confused words are “your vs you’re”, “their vs they’re”, “it’s vs its,” “who vs whom”, and “hanged vs hung.”

Canceled vs. Cancelled (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use canceled vs. cancelled with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Before we get too far down the rabbit hole this week, I just want to make one thing perfectly clear: There is only one way to spell cancel, and that's with one “l.” However, using cancel in the past tense gets a bit more complicated…mainly by geography.

(How to Map Your Fantasy World.)

Beyond that, let's define the word cancel, which is a verb that can mean a few things. Cancel can mean to destroy or offset the force or validity of something else.

Another meaning for cancel is to call off an event without the expectation of rescheduling. It's also used in mathematics to remove equal parts on both sides of an equation.

But again, how you cancel something in the past tense is different depending upon where you do it.

So break out your maps! We're going to need them where we're going.

Canceled vs. Cancelled

Canceled is the preferred spelling of the past tense of cancel in the United States.

Cancelled is the preferred spelling of the past tense of cancel everywhere else. Okay, so maybe you don't need a map to know whether you're in the United States or somewhere else.

Make sense?

Let's go through a few examples:

Correct in the United States: With a line of severe thunderstorms in the area, he canceled the soccer match.Incorrect everywhere else: With a line of severe thunderstorms in the area, he canceled the soccer match.

Correct everywhere else: She cancelled the play after failing to sell any advance tickets.Incorrect in the United States: She cancelled the play after failing to sell any advance tickets.

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