• 2-minute read
  • 28th January 2021

Spelling Tips: Neighbour or Neighbor?

When someone writes about people who live near to one another, you may have seen the spellings ‘neighbours’ and ‘neighbors’ both used. But are these both correct? And should you write ‘neighbour’ or ‘neighbor’ in your own writing?

The answer to these questions may depend on where you are from and who you are writing for. Check out our guide below to make sure you know which spelling to use!

What Does ‘Neighbour’ Mean?

On a basic level, the noun ‘neighbour’ typically means ‘someone who lives close by’. This could be in relation to yourself (i.e. your neighbours):

My next-door neighbour is having a barbecue this weekend!

Or you could refer to other people in relation to one another:

Tim and Michelle have been neighbours for eight years.

Sometimes, people also use ‘neighbour’ to refer to places:

Spain’s western neighbour, Portugal, is different in many ways.

Or they use it to refer to fellowship in general (e.g. the phrase ‘love thy neighbour’ refers to all other people rather than specifically the people who live near to you).

In all cases, though, the correct spelling in Australian English is ‘neighbour’.

Neighbour or Neighbor?

As mentioned, ‘neighbour’ is the correct spelling of this word in Australia. It is also used in most other English-speaking countries, including the UK and Canada.

However, in American English, the correct spelling is ‘neighbor’, with no ‘u’:

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My next-door neighbor is having a barbecue this weekend!

Tim and Michelle have been neighbors for eight years.

Spain’s western neighbor, Portugal, is different in many ways.

This follows the pattern of other words that end ‘-our’ in Australian English but drop the ‘u’ in American English (e.g. colour/color, behaviour/behavior).

The same applies for words related to ‘neighbour/neighbor’, such as the following:

Australian English: neighbourhood, neighbourly, neighbouring

American English: neighborhood, neighborly, neighboring

So, if you’re writing for an American audience, don’t forget to drop the ‘u’!

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