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Center Vs Centre: When To Use These Two Words?

by Shahnawaz Alam

Center vs Centre

The answer to this debate or confusion, whatever you call it, lies in the type of English you speak or write. Yes, judging your origin and your preference for English, the spelling of many words may differ. 

In this case, both spellings are correct and meaningful. The correctness depends upon whether you speak American English or speaking British English. But you should know that the word Centre or Center can be an adjective, noun, or verb and be used in different sentences accordingly. 

It is important to know the proper spelling for both American and British English. If you are writing for audiences used to either British or American English, your acceptable use of the spelling becomes very crucial. 

In American English, ‘Center’ is the proper spelling. But, if you are writing in British English, you should spell the word Centre. This article should help you figure out the appropriate way to use both spellings. 

Center vs Centre: The Origin

If you are wondering if it is centre or center, then you should know that both spellings are correct. The word comes from the Greek word “kentron”. Some also say the Latin word “Centrum” is a better origin for the word. 

Center vs Centre: The Origin

The meaning of this word is – a stationary point, a sharp point, or a pair of compasses. The word still has the same spelling in the U.K. In the Middle English period, the word got its new spelling and started to be spelt as “centre”. The meaning of the word stood as “the middle of anything” in the Middle of the conversation. During the late 17thh century, the meaning changed into “the point of concentration”.

The meaning of this word shifts when it is used as an adjective, noun, or verb. Although the meaning has remained fixed throughout the different ages, the spelling has two separate strands. In the modern age, the spelling was taken to be “centre” and was considered the more accurate. It was widely used for high society usages.

Center vs Centre: Here Are The Differences

When it comes to the differences, Centre and Center are not two different words with two different meanings. They are the same words with the same meaning. The only difference between center and centre is in the positioning of “e” in the word and the Geographical locations of their use.

Differences of center vs centre

However, in 1900, the spelling “centre” stuck to being used in British English, whereas the spelling “center” became mainstream in America. In the end, both spellings are correct and are applicable in American and British English. 

The American use of the word centre as center became more prominent when Noah Webster published his book An American Dictionary of the English Language. The book was published in 1825 and was popular when sold to Charles and George Merriam. 

The wake of American English and its widespread use throughout America has made the spelling of ‘center’ mainstream. Perhaps knowing some examples will help you understand their difference further. 

Centre vs Center Usage

Both the words ‘Centre’ and ‘Center’ is correct. If you are writing in American English, then you need to use the American version of the word, which is ‘Center’. If you are writing in British English, then you need to use the British version of the word, which is ‘Centre’. Now that you know that both spellings are correct, and when to use which spelling, lets take a look at how the word ‘center’ or ‘centre’ can be used. 

‘Center’ or ‘Centre’ is used as a noun or verb. When used as a noun, both ‘Centre’ and ‘Center’ is used to refer to: 

  • The middle point or part of something such a room, stage, a place.
  • A person, area, or thing that everyone is interested in or pays attention to the most. It can also mean an area, thing or person who is most involved or is most important in relation to a particular activity or interest.
  • A facility/building/place providing a particular service or where some kind of activity takes place
  • Group of people whose opinions and views are between two extreme point of views (usually political views). 
  • A player occupying the middle position in a team. This refers to:
  • Tallest player in a basketball team who’s position is near the basket
  • In soccer, this word is used to refer to the center forward who plays in the middle position in the front line.
  • In american football, the word is used to the player whose position is in the center of the offensive line. 

When used as a verb, the word center or centre can be used to mean: – 

  • To place something at the center of another thing or in a central location.
  • To put a strong focus on something

In some case, center or centre is also used as an adjective when the word is used to describe a noun that is at the middle of something like a room or an area.

Center Use In American English

Center Use In American English

Here are some uses of the word in American English– 

  • He said his remark about his willingness to move the center, which was in answer to a question, was consistent with his previous statements. (New York Times)
  • The University of Southern Mississippi will announce plans Tuesday for a men’s and women’s golf training center. (USA Today)
  • Kiera watched them, somewhat relieved not to be the center of attention any longer.
  • Slipping her hand through his extended elbow, she let him lead her into the center of the room.
  • Place that long oak table at the center of the room, and put ten carved oak chairs around the table.

When using the word in American English, the spelling always needs to be ‘center’. Writing for the western audience requires you to follow the spelling prominent in the US. for example, you have to spell “travelling” as “traveling” or “colour” in British English as “color”.

Centre Use In British English 

Centre Use In British English

Here are some uses of Centre in British English–

  • The final phase of the Gautrain, which runs from Rosebank to Park Station and will, in effect, link Pretoria to the Johannesburg city centre, will open in the next few weeks. (Mail & Guardian)
  • But the centre, who also missed the all-star game Sunday in Raleigh, N.C., at least took one big step closer to his return. (Canadian Press)
  • She now also does cooking classes at a community centre.
  • During the middle ages it was an important centre of commerce between Germany and Italy.
  • Marseilles has long been recognized as the most important centre of the soap trade, a position that city originally achieved through its ready command of the supplies of olive oil.

Even in India, British English for the written language. For official usages, British English is more prominent than American English. However, American English is also becoming more widespread and more prominent.

Bottom Line

So, if you are worried about center vs centre, you should know that both spellings are right. However, ‘centre’ is more prominent in official usage. Using the ‘center’ while writing for an American audience will flag the spelling as a mistake. The same is applicable in the case of British English

I think you understand the difference between these two words and what they mean. However, if you have any similar queries, you can leave them in the comment section.

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