‘Tee Shirt' or 'T-Shirt': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on January 17, 2023

'Tee shirt' or 'T-shirt,' which should you use? If you've seen both spellings, you might be confused about which one to use. Fear not; in this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about the word's meaning and correct spelling.

In short, both spellings are correct, but 'T-shirt' is the more widespread use.

Difference Between 'Tee Shirt' or 'T-Shirt'

So why are there two words for this item, and which one should you use? In reality, there are even more than two words. You might also see 'tee-shirt' with a hyphen or 't-shirt' with a lowercase 't.' There's also 'tee,' a more informal word.

But the most widespread spelling for this item of clothing is 'T-shirt.' Most dictionaries will redirect to 'T-shirt' if you type in any of the alternative spellings.

What Does It Mean?

A 'T-shirt' is an item of clothing you wear on the top part of your body. It's a plain item with no buttons and short sleeves. It's considered informal attire.

T-shirts are shaped like the letter' t,' hence their name. You could argue that other items you wear on your torso are also shaped like a 't' - like a shirt - but T-shirts are the only items of clothing named after that letter.

The word is a noun and has been in use since 1920, according to Etymonline. Its plural form is 'T-shirts.'

Items of clothing can be a little confusing because different countries have different names for the same things. For example, in the UK, "pants" are called "trousers," and "underwear" is called "pants." 'T-shirt' is universal, though.

For the sake of clarity, I'll only use the spelling 't-shirt' for the rest of this article, but know that you can choose to use either 'tee shirt' or 't-shirt' as they are both correct.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'T-Shirt'

So how's the word pronounced? No matter the spelling, the pronunciation is the same. According to the International Phonetic Alphabet, it goes like this:


And this is what it sounds like when pronounced:


When to Use 'T Shirt'

Let's now take a look at some examples of the word 'T-shirt' used in a sentence.

It's pretty warm outside; I might wear a T-shirt today.

I can't believe he showed up at a black-tie event wearing a T-shirt!

She loved the T-shirt so much she bought it in red and gray.

Blue jeans and a white T-shirt is such a classic look.

Do you want to join us? We're dying T-shirts using the tie-dye method.

Final Thoughts on Using' Tee Shirt' or 'T-Shirt'

So there you have it; both spellings are acceptable, but 'T-shirt' is more widespread. However, no one would hold it against you if you used one of the other spellings, as they are also correct.

To keep on improving your English, check out our blog, where we've covered many other commonly confused words.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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