Spelt or Spelled | Meaning, Difference & Examples

Spelt and spelled are two different spellings of the past tense of the verb ‘spell’, used to refer to the act of writing or saying letters in a specific order to form a word.

The spelling tends to vary based on whether you’re using UK or US English:

  • In UK English, both ‘spelled’ and ‘spelt’ are commonly used.
  • In US English, ‘spelled’ is standard, and ‘spelt’ is generally not accepted.
Examples: Spelt and spelled in a sentence
My name can be spelt/spelled many different ways.

The child spelt/spelled the word for the teacher.

The two dictionaries spelt/spelled the word differently.

I’d heard someone talk about Scribbr, but I wasn’t sure how it was spelt/spelled.

Verbs whose simple past and past participles are formed in some way other than by adding the suffix ‘-ed’ are called irregular verbs.

‘Spell’ can be either regular or irregular, with the irregular form more common in UK English. This is also true of ‘learnt/learned‘, ‘dreamt/dreamed‘, ‘knelt/kneeled‘, and ‘burnt/burned‘.

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Misspelled or misspelt

Misspelled and misspelt are the negative forms of ‘spelled’ and ‘spelt’. They can be used as verbs to refer to the act of spelling a word incorrectly, or as adjectives to describe a word that has been spelled incorrectly. The same spelling distinction carries over to these forms:

  • In UK English, both ‘misspelled’ and ‘misspelt’ are common.
  • In US English, ‘misspelled’ is correct.
Examples: Misspelt and misspelled in a sentence
A misnomer occurs when someone’s name is misspelt/misspelled in a legal document.

Ad nauseam‘ is often misspelt/misspelled as ‘ad nauseum’.

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If you want to know more about commonly confused words, definitions, common mistakes, and differences between US and UK spellings, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

Frequently asked questions

Is the past tense of ‘spell’ ‘spelt’ or ‘spelled’?

Spelt and spelled are two different spellings of the past tense of the verb ‘spell’.

The spelling tends to vary based on the version of English you’re using:

  • In US English, ‘spelled’ is standard.
  • In UK English, both ‘spelled’ and ‘spelt’ are acceptable.
Is it ‘spelled’ or ‘spelt’ in Ireland?

In Ireland, both spelled and spelt are commonly used as the past tense of the verb spell. This is similar to the trend in UK English.

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Ryan, E. (2023, September 25). Spelt or Spelled | Meaning, Difference & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 22 February 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/uk-vs-us/spelled-or-spelt/

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Eoghan Ryan

Eoghan has a lot of experience with theses and dissertations at bachelor's, MA, and PhD level. He has taught university English courses, helping students to improve their research and writing.