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Color or Colour (Which is Correct?)

Is it Color or Colour?

Last updated on February 12th, 2024 at 07:18 pm


Color and colour are kind of the same, same, but different. Let’s colour in the answer, below.



Is it spelled “color” or “colour”?

Color and colour are both correct spellings of the noun or verb that refers to a shade or hue, or the action of colouring (or colouring) something by adding paint, crayon, etc. onto it.

  • UK English spells “colour” (with the “u”).

  • US English spells “color” (without “u”).


Note: UK English is predominant across most English speaking countries worldwide; except, of course, for the United States. Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a number of Caribbean countries all use UK English.


Language purists may also be curious to know that colour is the original spelling: Etymonline says, “[colour] was the usual English spelling from 14c., from Anglo-French. Classical correction made color an alternative from 15c., and that spelling became established in the U.S. (see -or)”.


Other “-our”/”-or” words

Other words that share the “-our” / “-or” suffix and follow the same spelling convention as colour/color:

UK EnglishUS English
favourfavor
labourlabor
behaviourbehavior
honourhonor
neighbourneighbor
humourhumor


Other forms of colour/color

Other verb/noun forms also conform to the same spelling rules based on US/UK English:

US Englishcolor, colored, coloring, colors, colorful.
UK Englishcolour, coloured, colouring, colours, colourful.



Sentences with colour/color as a noun

As a noun, colour refers to the actual shade or hue of something (as the following sentence examples show).

What’s your favorite colour/color?

She always wears dark colours/colors.

Her hair is a reddish-brown colour/color.



Sentences with color/colour as a verb

The verb refers to the action of colouring something, usually by adding a shade to it.

Kids love drawing, and they especially love colouring/coloring.

He drew a monster and coloured/colored it red.

The incident coloured/colored her whole life. (past tense)


Phrases with colour/color

PhraseMeaning
to reveal one’s true colours/colors A cliché and trite way of saying that one has shown who they really are; i.e., their “true colours”.
sail under false colours/colors To operate or present oneself under a guise or false pretense.
to pass or win with flying colours/colors To win or achieve something to the highest extent or degree.
to show the colour/color of one’s moneyAn idiomatic expression or way of asking someone to show the money that they claim to have to pay for something.
to nail one’s colour/color to the mast To refuse to cease or surrender.


Origin of the word color/colour

Etymonline on colour:

Old French color “color, complexion, appearance” (Modern French couleur), from Latin color “color of the skin; color in general, hue; appearance,” from Old Latin colos, originally “a covering” (akin to celare “to hide, conceal”).


—Etymonline, colour.



Learn more about US English vs. UK English



Sources

  1. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of color.” Online Etymology Dictionary, Accessed 16 January, 2024.
  2. “Color.” TheFreeDictionary.com. 2024. Farlex, Inc. 16 Jan. 2024 https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/color


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