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Center vs. Centre

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Spelling differences between American and British English have confused writers for centuries. Center and centre exemplify this confusion. Like many similar words, centre is the older term; it later became Americanized as center during a period of rapid linguistic evolution as the United States expanded its influence. Depending on your audience, there are specific situations when either centre or center might be more appropriate.

In this post, I will compare center vs. centre. I will provide at least one example sentence for each of these spellings.

Origin:

The word center originated from late Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin centrum, from Greek kentron ‘sharp point, stationary point of a pair of compasses’, related to kentein ‘to prick’.

Center as noun:

The word center is used as a noun in English language where it means the point that is equally distant from every point on the circumference of a circle or sphere or point or part that is equally distant from all sides, ends, or surfaces of something.

There was a crack in the center of the ceiling.

Center also means the point from which an activity or process is directed, or on which it is focused.

The city was a center of discontent.

A place or group of buildings where a specified activity is concentrated is also known as center.

The meeting was held in conference center.

Center as verb:

Center is also used as a verb in English language which means occur mainly in or around (a specified place).

The textile industry was centered in Lancashire and Yorkshire.

A place in the middle is also called center.

To center the needle, turn the knob.

Use of center:

Center is used in American English and is relatively new spellings than centre.

Examples:

The University of Southern Mississippi will announce plans Tuesday for a men’s and women’s golf training center. [USA Today]

He said his remark about his willingness to move the center, which was in answer to a question, was consistent with his previous statements. [New York Times]

Israeli and French filmmakers are making a comedy centered on the assassination of a Hamas operative in Dubai. [AP (dead link)]

Use of centre:

Centre is another spelling of the same word. While center is standard in American English, centre is the accepted term in British English.

Example:

Tesco is shutting two of its UK distribution centres in a move that will create more than 1,000 redundancies at the supermarket chain. –The Telegraph

Center or centre:

Center and centre are two spellings of the same word, which has a variety of meanings as both a noun and a verb. Center is the American spelling. Centre is the British spelling. Since centre shares the letter sequence re with Reader’s Corner in the U.K., it should be easy to reserve centre for British audiences. If ever you can’t remember which version of the word is which, you can always reread this article for a quick refresher.

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"Center vs. Centre." Grammar.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 23 Nov. 2017. <http://www.grammar.com/center_vs._centre>.

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