Q&A: Honor vs. Honour

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Q: Why do some wedding invitations spell honor as “honour” and others spell it as “honor?” The example I followed showed “honour,” so I assumed that was the way to go. But I’ve since found examples that spell it as “honor” too. Which is correct?

A: This is a tricky question, but a good one! There are a couple of different ways to look at this odd spelling issue, but there really isn’t a right way to spell “honour” or “honor” on your wedding invitations. Both spellings are perfectly acceptable, so rest assured you will not be wrong with either option.

“Honour” is the British English way of spelling “honor,” which is the standard American English spelling. As with a whole slew of “English” words, at some point in our rebellious history Americans changed the spelling. Today, British English and American English are most appropriately considered as two very distinct dialects of the same language!

Though we Americans saw fit to change British English to suit our own style, we still tend to cling to the notion that the Brits hold the standard when it comes to formality. Hence our occasional, albeit inconsistent, adoption of British English spelling and usage when we want to fancy things up, such as on a wedding invitation. This is why many invitation wording samples choose to use “honour” … and why most folks honestly don’t even notice which one you choose! So go with your own preference and feel confident that you’re not going to get a citation from the grammar police.

And if you still can’t decide, you can always use the phrase “the pleasure of your company” instead!

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