spelled or spelt?

What Is the Difference between "spelled" and "spelt"?

homeconfused wordsspelled or spelt?
the quick answer

The Quick Answer

If you're following US writing conventions, use spelled.
If you're following UK writing conventions, use spelt.

(If you're referring to the wheat, use spelt.)

Spelled and Spelt

The verb to spell most commonly means to write or name the letters that form a word in correct sequence.

To spell is one of those verbs with both an irregular form and a regular form. (See the table below for some others.) The past tense and the past participle can be written as either spelled or spelt. However, they are not interchangeable, especially in the US.

Americans Demand Spelled

In America, spelled dominates. The use of spelt as the past tense or past participle of to spell is considered a spelling mistake by many. It will certainly annoy a fair proportion of your readers.

Brits Prefer Spelt

Outside America, spelt is more common, but spelled is generally accepted. (This is almost certainly a result of American influence spreading.)

Misspelled and Misspelt

It's the same with misspelled and misspelt. Americans demand misspelled (and Brits will accept it). However, Brits prefer misspelt.

Verbs with Irregular and Regular Forms

The following verbs (like to spell) can be regular or irregular:
VerbPast SimplePast Participle
burnburned OR burntburned OR burnt
dreamdreamed OR dreamtdreamed OR dreamt
learnlearned OR learntlearned OR learnt
also hanged
also hanged
smellsmelled OR smeltsmelled OR smelt
spellspelled OR speltspelled OR spelt

As with spelt, the second form (e.g., learnt, dreamt) is more common in British English.

teachers note

A Note from Teacher


In America, the noun spelt is used to refer to a kind of wheat.

A Quick Test

Help Us To Improve English Grammar Lessons
  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?
Please tell us using this form.
Do you know your English idioms? idioms test

Take Our Test.

search icon

Search our idioms database. (We have 10,000+ idioms!)