‘Favor’ or ‘Favour’: What is the Difference?

By Kelsey Weeks, updated on July 14, 2023

Have you noticed that some words have multiple spellings like ‘favor’ or ‘favor,’ ‘labor’ or ‘labour,’ and ‘color’ or ‘colour?’ This is because although English is one language, many different countries use it, and the spellings used there can differentiate.

To save time, here is a brief overview:

  • ‘Favor’ is the United States spelling of the word.
  • ‘Favour’ is the United Kingdom and Canadian spelling of the word.

Both spellings are correct in their respective locations. If you would like to learn more about the words ‘favor’ and ‘favour,’ continue reading the article to learn more.

What is the Difference Between ‘Favor’ and ‘Favour?’

Both spellings of the word are correct in their respective locations. So, is it ‘favor’ or ‘favour’ in America? ‘Favor’ is correct in the United States. It can be used as a verb and as a noun. If you are writing, and your target audience is in the United States, use ‘favor.’

If your target audience is Canadian or from the United Kingdom, then the correct spelling is ‘favour.’ This is typically the spelling accepted outside of the United States anywhere you are using the word, but ‘favor’ is starting to be accepted. To be on the cautionary side, it would be best to use the traditional spelling of each location.

  • Although it is not a solid rule, a lot of the time, the American spelling is shorter.

Other words that have multiple spellings depending on your country are:

  • Color or Colour
  • Flavor or Flavour
  • Humor or Humour
  • Labor or Labour
  • Neighbor or Neighbour
  • Rumor or Rumour

When looking at these examples, the American version is always shorter. This is just one trend in spelling differences when the letter ‘u’ is added to English spellings in other countries outside of the United States.

Definition of ‘Favor' and ‘Favour’: What Do ‘Favor' and ‘Favour’ Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, ‘Favor’ can be a noun or verb.

As a noun, it means:

  • Friendly regard is shown toward another, especially by a superior.
  • Approving consideration or attention.
  • Partiality
  • Leniency
  • Permission
  • Popularity
  • Appearance
  • A gracious kindness
  • A token of love usually worn conspicuously
  • A special privilege or right granted.
  • Behalf or interest

As a verb, it means:

  • To regard or treat with favor.
  • To do kindness for.
  • To show partiality toward.
  • To give support or confirmation.
  • To afford advantages for success.
  • To bear a resemblance to.

Synonyms of ‘Favor’ and ‘Favour’

  • Approbation
  • Partiality
  • Leniency
  • Permission
  • Popularity
  • Appearance
  • Face
  • Aid
  • Assistance
  • Attention
  • Badge
  • Interest
  • Behalf
  • Oblige
  • Endow
  • Prefer
  • Sustain
  • Facilitate
  • Courtesy
  • Kindness
  • Service
  • Mercy
  • Grace

Antonyms of ‘Favor’ and “Favour’

  • Unpopular
  • Disliked
  • Obstacle
  • Hurdle
  • Hindrance
  • Interference
  • Impediment
  • Condemnation
  • Disfavor
  • Disapproval
  • Disdain
  • Contempt
  • Disregard
  • Scorn
  • Disappointment
  • Indignation

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Favor’ and ‘Favour

It is important to learn how to pronounce words so that you can use English words both in writing but also when speaking. This will help make you confident in the usage of the word, no matter the circumstance. Although the meaning is the same, the overall pronunciation is the same in both, with a difference in what letters are stressed. The United States looks at a harsher ‘r’ sound.

  • The phonetic spelling of 'favor' is:

                fAY vUHR

  • The phonetic spelling of 'favour' is:

                FAY VUH

When to use ‘Favor’ vs. ‘Favour

Here are some tips on when to use ‘favor’ and ‘favour.’

  • Use ‘favor’ when writing for an American about a preference.

In this example, you could write:

He seems to ‘favor’ writing with the Sharpie S-Gel Retractable Gel Pen.

  • Use ‘favor’ when talking about someone looked kindly upon by management in the U.S.

For example, one can say:

 They are granted this opportunity because they are ‘favored’ for their great work ethic and practice.  

  • You can use ‘favour’ when writing about service outside of the United States.

As an example, someone may say:

I did this as a ‘favour’ to you, so you do not need to worry about paying me back.

  • You can also use ‘favour’ when in the United Kingdom discussing kindness.

You may tell someone:

They wanted to give the team a ‘favour’ after having learned they had such a great season.

Sample Sentences Using 'Favor'

Review these sample sentences to learn to use ‘favor’ when speaking and writing in the United States.

  • It feels as though the weather is favoring us today so that we will be able to continue on our venture up the mountain to make it to the camp.
  • I thought long and hard about when I would call in the one favor that I have been owed for the last three years. I think I now need it for labor help to move houses.
  • After helping me last week, I will owe them a favor in return which I will gladly give when they have a task I can fulfill.
  • I gave her a favor to wear on her dress so everyone would know I was thinking of her. It’s just a small brooch.
  • I tend to favor my right hand when writing and my left hand when eating. I wonder if others seem to alternate hands.
  • Their cousins favor them because they do their best to keep in touch and check in on the family. They have never missed a family special event by always sending a card or a call.

Sample Sentences Using 'Favour'

Review these sample sentences to learn how to use ‘favour’ when writing in the United Kingdom or countries that recognize the British English spelling.

  • The royal family favours their family because they have been connected for many generations, always looking out for the royal family. Their respect is a two-way street.
  • Can I ask you to do the dishes for me as a favour? I know that it is my chore, but I would greatly appreciate it if you could do this for me this one time.
  •  The flavor favoured the most here is the cookies and cream ice mixed with the vanilla ice cream. It has been a best seller for three weeks.

Closing Words on ‘Favor’ or ‘Favour

To summarize on ‘favor’ or ‘favour’:

  • Both words mean the same thing and are correct.         
  • ‘Favor’ is to be used in the United States.
  • ‘Favour’ is to be used when writing in a place that accepts British English, such as the U.K.

To conclude, ‘favor’ and ‘favour’ can be seen as verbs or nouns and typically mean friendliness or kindness. Spelling varies by location, even within the same language, so it is always wise to ensure that you are spelling for the right demographic.

All posts on our website explain how to use tricky words correctly. Check back frequently to reduce the errors in your writing. You can find additional resources on English words in the confusing words section.

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Written By:
Kelsey Weeks
Kelsey Weeks is currently a school counselor at a high school and a previous English teacher. She loves helping others with literacy, learning more, and exploring nature. She has an undergrad in English with an emphasis on secondary education and an M.A. in Applied Psychology from NYU.

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