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?
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:
Cancel as noun:
Use of canceled:
Canceled (with one “L”) is the preferred choice in American English. We can thank Noah Webster for this. He is usually credited with the creation of American spellings that have fewer letters than the British counterparts. Color (colour), flavor (flavour), and labor (labour) are a few examples of this. Canceled is the recommended spelling in Webster’s 1898 dictionary. Likewise, The AP Stylebook prefers the use of cancel, canceled, and canceling, but it favors cancellation over cancelation.
Use of cancelled:
Cancelled (with two “L’s”) is the preferred choice in British English and is used much more frequently than canceled. The below chart shows the use of canceled and cancelled (as a percentage of all words used) in British English books, journals, and magazines from 1800 to 2000.
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? Here’s what you need to know. Although either cancelled or canceled can be used correctly in the same sentence, it’s important to keep your audience in mind when using these words. Canceled is the preferred American word choice. Cancelled is the preferred British word choice. One simple way to keep track of these two words is that the shorter spelling is American. If you can keep in mind that, generally speaking, British English favors (favours) the longer spelling of certain words, you will be able to remember the difference between these words.