Metre or meter — which spelling is correct?

Metre or meter? Unless you are not keen on measuring the world in feet, inches, yards or miles, you may sometimes wonder: what is the difference between metre and meter? Are both meter and metre acceptable? Perhaps these are two words with significantly different meanings. The meter (metre?) is running, so let us explain another mystery of the English language.

Meter or metre — is there an incorrect spelling?

Both spellings are correct, and there is no semantic difference between metre and meter. Metre is the spelling used by British English speakers, meter is the version preferred by Americans. Such spelling differences can be observed in many other words.

Metre or meter — learn about their meaning

Whether you choose metre or meter, you refer to the same thing: a unit of measurement for length established by the International System of Units (SI). The word metre or meter refer also to the terms used in poetry or music. However, for various devices designed to measure different entities, only the spelling meter is correct. Hence, we can talk of a manometer, barometer, thermometer or ammeter.

Meter and metre — literary examples

“Vers libre” (free verse) or nine-tenths of it, is not a new metre any more than sleeping in a ditch is a new school of architecture.

G.K. Chesterton, Fancies Versus Fads, 1923

Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.

George Orwell, 1984, 1949

I didn’t mean to write this as a poem, but the meter turned up in my head and after that I simply had no say in the matter.

Neil Gaiman, Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

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Passionately in love with English — a romance initiated by reading Tolkien’s books that finally lead her too far, and now she is an English philology graduate. She loves learning, especially when it comes to languages. Interested in visual arts, history and DIY.