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Canceled vs. Cancelled

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2:46 min read
  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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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.


Exeter High School principal Vic Sokul has canceled dances for the rest of the school year. [New Hampshire Exeter]

Canceling the contract would be cheaper but not cheap. [Chicago Tribune]

Many flights have been canceled, forcing more passengers to connect at big and increasingly crowded hubs. [New York Times]

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 vs. Cancelled

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  • Linguapress
    The British spelling with 2 Ls is an anomaly. The normal rule is to double the consonant after a short vowel when the final syllable is stressed (forget > forgetting, begin > beginning, permit > permitted, )  but not to do so if the final syllable is not stressed (enter > entered, listen > listened, limit > limited, edit > edited, gallop > galloped, focus > focused [the standard spelling] etc.) 
    LikeReply 23 years ago
  • Phil Price
    Phil Price
    Now I have a new thing to be quiet about. One L makes the preceeding vowel long and two Ls make it short. No? Anybody?
    LikeReply4 years ago
    • Tara Nicole
      Tara Nicole
      No, because it's still a closed syllable. Just like but and butt :) Said the same way...cel and cell (you wouldn't say the first way "seal").
      LikeReply4 years ago
  • Felicia Marsh
    Felicia Marsh
    I believe the actual rule governing the spelling is: If the verb ends in consonant + vowel + L, double the final L and add ED.

    But of course the "Webster's" Note still applies, but there is actually more to it than just ending in L: In the United States (US) do not double the L when the accent is on the first syllable. 
    LikeReply 25 years ago
  • Irwin Levinstein
    Irwin Levinstein
    If 'cancelation' is incorrect, how can one object to 'cancelled'. Noah Webster is not best just because he was first.
    LikeReply 55 years ago


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