Difference Between Center and Centre

Main Difference

The main difference between center and centre is that the word center belongs to American English whereas the word centre belongs to British English.

Center vs. Centre

The terms center and centre are often confusing for many people. They are the two same words with a different spelling. The word center and centre hold the same meaning. The difference between both words is the place in which the word is used. The word center belongs to American English. The word centre belongs to British English.

American English and British English have regional and local variations. These variations lie in spoken as well as written English. The proper word is the centre to speak in the British style. But if you want to adopt American spelling, then the correct word is center.

The meaning of the word center/centre is, “the middle point, the point within a regular polygon equally distant from the vertices, or the point within a circle or sphere equally distant from all points of the circumference or surface.” The words center and center can cause problems in the context, meaning or message if you are not careful in their usage.

The center is used in the world to describe the sporting positions in traditional sports of America. For example, American football and American baseball. The word centre is used in the world to describe the sporting positions in British traditional sports. For example, the center and center-forward in rugby.

In England, these two words are also used differently. ‘Center’ refers to the center of something, while ‘centre’ refers to the establishments or structures. Although Americans sometimes adopt the British spelling in their establishments or businesses to give them a little more class. The example of it is, “There are many ‘theatre centres’ in the mall-towns of America.”

Comparison Chart

CenterCentre
The American spelling variant which refers to the middle point of somethingThe British spelling variant which refers to the middle point of something
In England
Refers to the center of somethingRefers to the establishments or structures
Word
OlderNewer
Accepted In
American EnglishBritish English

What is Center?

The word center is a verb as well as a noun. The meaning of the center is “to position anything in the middle of an area which is predetermined.” Center aims at finding the middle, to revolve around the main topic.” For example, Before practicing yoga, you must center yourself in the present moment to practice it effectively as a noun center refers to the middle point of something.

Center also refers to any organization, e.g., the “Pew Research Center.” Also, it refers to a building or place used for activities, e.g., “the athletic center on a college campus.” The word center is commonly seen in American English. It is relatively new spellings than its variant centre.

The origination the word center dates back to late Middle English. It derives from Old French, or Latin “centrum,” from Greek “kentron” that means ‘sharp and stationary point of a pair of compasses.’ It is related to “kentein,” which means ‘to prick.’

Some other meanings or synonyms of the center are “point, axis, pivot, etc., around which anything rotates or revolves. Moreover, the center also holds the meaning “the source of an action, influence, or force, upon which emotions or interests are focused. Center can be a principal point, object, or place.

Examples

  • The textile industry was centered in the Lancashire and Yorkshire. (as a verb)
  • There was a delicious, candied cherry at the center of my chocolate cake. (as a noun)

What is Centre?

The word centre belongs to British English. The meaning of the word centre is, “the middle point, the point within a regular polygon equally distant from the vertices, or the point within a circle or sphere equally distant from all points of the circumference or surface.” There are variations of this word centre in England. ‘Centre’ refers to various establishments or structures.

The word centre is used in the world to describe the sporting positions in British traditional sports — for example, the centre and centre forward in rugby. Centre is also used as an alternative word for “center’ and holds the same meaning as center. But this use is not common.

Americans sometimes adopt the British spelling in their establishments or businesses to give them a little more class. The example of it is, “There are many ‘theatre centres’ in the mall-towns of America.” Centre is the older term than its American variant center. It later became specified to American English as ‘center.’ This specification occurred during the period of rapid linguistic evolution when the US started expanding its influence.

The word “centre” is used in Britain and other countries that have adopted the British system of spelling. The examples of such countries are India and Canada. It is also used in America for institutions or certain place names such as Alabama, Centre, Centre College in Kentucky, and the Centre Region of Haiti.

Examples

  • “Tesco is shutting two of its United Kingdom distribution centres which will create more than 1000 redundancies at the supermarket.” (The Telegraph)
  • “Centre Region,” France.
  • Centre for Library/Environmental Sciences and Engineering

Key Differences

  1. The word center refers to the middle point of something, and the spelling “center” is the American variant of this word, whereas the word centre belongs to the British English with the same meaning. This word (with both the spellings) is used as a noun as well as a verb.
  2. If you want to adopt American spelling then the correct word is center on the flip side; if you want to speak like a British person, the proper word is ‘centre.’
  3. In England, the word ‘center’ refers to the middle point of something, while ‘centre’ refers to the establishments, organizations, and structures, etc.
  4. Center is used worldwide to describe sporting positions in traditional American sports, e.g., American football and baseball, on the other hand, the centre is used worldwide to describe sporting positions in traditional British sports.
  5. Center is standard in American English; conversely, the centre has accepted the term in British English.

Conclusion

The terms center and centre have the same meaning but spelled differently. The difference between both the variants of the same word is due to its different roots in American and British English.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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