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Labor vs. Labour

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3:19 min read
  Marius Alza  —  Grammar Tips
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Labor” and “labuor” are quite contested and controversy, as some English users believe that one of them is a misspelling, while others believe that one is an older version, out of use. Others think that both are accepted and it’s all about personal preference. For a new English speaker, this can be confusing. Plus, their spellings are so similar that it’s easy to use them wrongly or forget what they mean.

So, who is right? What’s the difference between “labor” and “labour” and which is the correct spelling? Check it out right here!

Labor vs. Labour

Both “labor” and “labour” function as nouns and adverbs as well, in the exact same way. The forms are both correct spellings and their meanings, uses and contexts are perfectly identical. Regarding their significances or their functions in a sentence, there is absolutely nothing distinct.

So, the question remains, why are they spelled differently if nothing is different? Well, it’s about the etymology and use of this pair of words. People prefer different spellings in different English-speaking areas or regions. Or, more exactly, it’s about the classical differences between British and American English. It’s exactly the same situation as with “favor” and “favour” or “flavor” and “flavour”. Americans prefer the shorter version, British are for the longer one, with a deeper pronunciation. Apart from this, especially in informal conversations where these linguistic subtleties don’t make that much of a big difference, you can use both words with no effect or modification upon your message.

When do we use “labor”?

“Labor” is the US spelling for “labour”, that’s usually how dictionaries and English guides define it. It works both as a noun and as a verb, with multiple meanings. As a noun, “labor” can define the notion of hard work, usually implying a lot of manual, physical effort; it can also refer to workers/workforce or people who work, or ultimately it can refer to birth, to that stage of the pregnancy when a woman feels pain in her stomach because the baby will come out. As a verb, “labor” defines the action of working hard and putting a lot of effort into it. So given the fact that “labor” is a US form for the UK “labour”, it’s mostly recommended that you use it in American English, especially in a formal context where these subtleties actually matter.

Example 1: There’s a lot of manual labor going on in this factory. – as a noun, “labor” refers to hard work that implies physical effort.

Example 2: They have some really cheap labor in this factory, and it’s still very productive. – “labor” as noun can also refer to workers.

Example 3: She has been feeling labor pains for over two hours, the baby is certainly coming out tonight! – used as a noun, “labor” can also refer to birth.

Example 4: I will labor all day long in order to get the amount of money I need to open my own business. – “labor”, as a verb, defines the action of working very hard.

When do we use “labour”?

“Labour” is used in all the contexts where “labor” is, with the exact same functions and meanings, making no difference in the message of the communication. Yet, given the fact that it’s the UK spelling, it’s mostly recommended in British discussions, publications or other messages, especially if they are in a formal context. For relevant examples of how to use it correctly in British English, simply replace “labor” with “labour” in all the examples provided above; they will have nothing changed in their meanings.


“Labour” and “labor” are both correct spellings of the same word, but in different regions. Even though “labor” is probably most frequently used nowadays, when people prefer shorter spellings everywhere, it is mostly recommended to keep in mind their correct using, especially if you are addressing your message in a formal/official way. “Labour” is the UK spelling and “labor” is the US form of the same notion.

Labor vs. Labour

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1 Comment
  • Firew Tariku
    Firew Tariku
    Lord God bless you who you wteach us in realy and practical way I AM REALLY PLEASED
    LikeReply 24 years ago


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