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Canceled vs. Cancelled – Pick the Correct Word

Canceled vs. Cancelled – Pick the Correct Word

Your boss asks you to send out an email about the cancellation of this week’s meeting. But is your meeting canceled or cancelled? They both look right, but you don’t want to look foolish when you send out that email.

So, which is it?

There is a correct spelling, but it actually depends on you and your audience.

Differences in Usage: Canceled vs. Cancelled

This article compares the spelling of canceled vs. cancelled. I will use them both in example sentences to demonstrate their meaning.

I will also show you a way to remember whether to use cancelled or canceled.

What Does Canceled Mean?

Meaning of Canceled:Canceled is the past tense of cancel, which is a verb that means to invalidate, annul, or declare that an event is no longer happening.

Canceled is spelled with a single “L” in American English.

  • I paid off my debt and canceled all my credit cards!
  • The Fourth of July picnic was canceled due to the rain.

Note that while other forms of the verb cancel, such as canceling, use a single “L,” the word cancellation is an exception, which is always spelled with a double “L.”

  • I need help canceling my gym membership; they make it so difficult to do!
  • My insurance company sent me a cancellation notice since I didn’t pay my bill.

What Does Cancelled Mean?

Meaning of Cancelled: The definition of cancelledis identical to that of canceled. The spelling marks a difference in culture rather than a difference in meaning.

While canceled is used primarily in the United States, cancelled is used in all other English-speaking countries, especially the United Kingdom.

  • She cancelled the order she placed by mistake.
  • The Guy Fawkes Day celebration will be cancelled.

Here I have used culturally specific example sentences to emphasize the difference between the American English spelling and the British English spelling. However, in your writing, whether you decided to use canceled or cancelled will depend on who your readers are, not the subject of your writing.

Also, remember that citizens of many other countries speak English as a second language. The preferences of ESL readers will depend on many variables, such as whether they are from a former British colony, which version of English is taught in their schools, or their geographical proximity to the U.K. or the U.S.

Researching the history and culture of where your readers come from will inform which version of English spelling to use when communicating with them.

Cancelled vs. Canceled: How to Remember the Difference

These two words are incredibly similar; one is just slightly shorter. American English is infamous for abbreviating words as much as possible, which is helpful to remember here. Even dropping the one little “L” makes canceled shorter, so that is the spelling U.S. writers prefer.

Recap: When to Use Canceled and Cancelled

Canceled and cancelled are alternative spellings of the same word.

  • Canceled is the standard spelling in The United States.
  • Most other English-speaking countries use the British spelling, cancelled.

Which word you use in your writing depends on you and your audience. You shoud use the spelling that corresponds with the culture of your audience.



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