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Published by at March 18th, 2024 , Revised On March 22, 2024

Honor Vs Honour: Differences & Examples

In the English Language, spelling variations can often lead to confusion, especially when they seem interchangeable but hold distinct meanings. One such pair of words that frequently perplexes writers is “honor” and “honour.” This is the same as other terms like humor vs humour. While they may appear to be mere spelling variations, understanding their differences can enhance clarity and precision in communication. 

SpellingUS UK and Australia
MeaningAdherence to moral and ethical principles; respect and esteem gained through personal integrity and character.Adherence to moral and ethical principles; respect and esteem gained through personal integrity and character.

She was awarded a medal for her bravery, a true honor.

It is considered an honor to serve one’s country.

He was bestowed with the honour of knighthood.

She was honoured with an invitation to the royal banquet.

Let’s explore these differences in detail. 

US Vs Australia

The core difference between “honor” and “honour” lies in their spellings. This distinction stems from the historical divergence of American and Australian English.

Noah Webster, a prominent American lexicographer, advocated for streamlining spellings in the late 18th century. His influence led to the omission of the letter “u” in several words, including “honor” (originally “honour”) and other words like “color” and “favor”.

Therefore, in:

  • US English: “honor” reigns supreme. It’s the standard and widely accepted spelling.
  • UK and Australian English: “honour” holds the fort. You will encounter it more frequently in formal writing and publications.


Despite their spelling variations, “honor” and “honour” share a fundamental meaning. They represent:

  • High moral principles and ethical conduct: This encompasses adhering to a strong sense of right and wrong, acting with integrity, and keeping one’s word.
  • Respect and esteem: When you “honor” someone, you acknowledge their achievements, worth, or position.
  • Fulfilling a commitment or obligation: This could involve upholding a promise, carrying out a duty, or respecting a tradition.

Here are some examples showcasing this shared meaning:

  • He lived his life with honor, always putting the needs of others before his own.
  • It would be an honour to receive such a prestigious award.
  • We must honor the memory of those who fought for our freedom.

Context Matters

While “honor” and “honour” share a core meaning, there are certain situations in which you have to use the specific term. Here is a breakdown:

  • Formal vs. Informal Settings: In formal writing, particularly within Australian English conventions, “honour” might be slightly more preferred. However, “honor” is perfectly acceptable in most formal contexts as well. In informal settings, both spellings are interchangeable.
  • Derivatives and Related Words: When dealing with derivatives of “honor”/”honour,” the spelling often aligns with the base word. “Honorable” (US) and “honourable” (AUS) exemplify this. However, exceptions exist, like “honorarium” (universally spelled without the “u”).
  • Regional Variations: While “honor” dominates in the US and “honour” in the UK and Australia, some regions exhibit a blend. For instance, Canada leans towards “honor,” but “honour” isn’t uncommon.

Idioms & Phrases

“Honor” and “honour” extend beyond single words. They weave themselves into idioms and phrases, enriching the tapestry of language. Here are a few noteworthy ones:

  • Do someone the honor: This signifies treating someone with respect and courtesy. (e.g., “The President did us the honor of attending our local ceremony.”) 
  • A point of honor: This indicates a matter of principle or integrity that one feels strongly about. (e.g., “Telling the truth was a point of honor for him.”) 

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Examples Of Honor Vs Honour

Honor Honour
She was awarded a medal for her bravery, a true honor. He was honoured with an invitation to the royal banquet.
He kneeled before the king in honor. He was bestowed with the honour of knighthood.
The soldier received a Purple Heart for his honorable service. She was recognised for her outstanding contribution to charity, an honourable act.
He acted with honor by standing up for his principles. The mayor’s honourable conduct during the crisis was commendable.
The family name brought great honor to their ancestors. The school celebrated the students’ academic honours.
The judge conducted himself with honor and impartiality. The Queen awarded him with a medal for his services to the community, a mark of honour.

Other Variations

Here are some other contexts for the use of honour. 

Honored Vs Honoured

  • She was honored with a prestigious award for her contributions to the community.
  • He was honoured with a knighthood for his lifetime of service to the nation.

Honorable Vs Honourable

  • The judge’s honorable decision earned him respect from all sides.
  • It was an honourable gesture for him to step down from his position to preserve integrity.

Maid Of Honour Vs Maid Of Honor

  • She stood by the bride’s side as her maid of honour during the wedding ceremony.
  • She served as the bride’s maid of honor, assisting with wedding preparations and offering support.

Frequently Asked Questions

“Honour” is typically used in Australian English, while “honor” is more common in American English. Both words denote respect, integrity, and adherence to ethical principles. Choose “honour” for Australian contexts and “honor” for American contexts. Consider the spelling conventions of your intended audience or publication.

In Canada, both “honor” and “honour” are used, but “honour” follows the British and Australian English spelling convention, while “honor” aligns with American English. Generally, “honour” is more prevalent due to Canada’s historical ties with British English. However, either spelling is widely accepted and understood in Canadian English usage.

In the UK, the standard spelling is “honour.” This follows the conventions of British English spelling. While “honor” is primarily used in American English, “honour” is the accepted and preferred spelling in British English for contexts relating to integrity, respect, and ethical principles.

Honour encompasses adherence to moral and ethical principles, integrity, and respect gained through one’s actions or character. It involves upholding a code of conduct that reflects honesty, fairness, and dignity in one’s dealings with others.

“Honor” in Oxford English refers to adherence to moral principles, integrity, and respectability. It encompasses the esteem or recognition gained through virtuous behaviour, such as honesty, loyalty, and courage, often leading to admiration or commendation from others.