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Liter vs. Litre: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 6, 2023
"Liter" is the American English spelling for a unit of volume, while "Litre" is the British English spelling for the same unit.

Key Differences

The term "Liter" and "Litre" both represent a unit of volume that is widely used in the metric system. In American English, "Liter" is the preferred spelling. For example, when buying a bottle of soda in the U.S., it might be labeled as 2 liters. The term conforms to the typical American way of spelling, aligning with other words like "meter" instead of "metre" or "center" instead of "centre."
Conversely, "Litre" is the spelling adopted by British English and by many other countries that follow British English conventions. In the UK, if you were to purchase the same bottle of soda, it would likely be labeled as 2 litres. This version of the term fits in with the British style of spelling, which is also seen in words like "theatre" as opposed to the American "theater."
Despite the difference in spelling, "Liter" and "Litre" denote the exact same volume measurement. They are merely regional variations in spelling for the same concept. While "Liter" might be the norm in official documents and publications in the U.S., "Litre" would be seen in similar publications in the UK or Australia.
It's important to be aware of these distinctions, especially in professional or academic contexts where language precision matters. However, in everyday conversation or when traveling, most people will understand the meaning regardless of the spelling variant used.

Comparison Chart

Spelling Region

American English
British English and other Commonwealth countries

Example Usage

Soda bottle labeled as "2 liters" in the U.S.
Soda bottle labeled as "2 litres" in the UK.

Associated Variants

Meter, center
Metre, centre


A unit of volume in the metric system.
A unit of volume in the metric system.

Used In Publications

Typical in U.S. official documents and publications.
Seen in UK, Australia, and similar regions' publications.

Liter and Litre Definitions


An American English spelling of a metric unit of volume.
The fuel tank can hold up to 10 liters of gasoline.


Represents the same volume as the American "liter", but with a regional spelling.
The car's fuel efficiency is 10 kilometres per litre.


A common unit for measuring fuel efficiency in the U.S., as miles per liter.
His car gets 15 miles per liter on the highway.


Standard for measuring volume in many countries outside of the U.S.
The patient requires one litre of IV fluids.


Used in American scientific contexts when referencing volume.
The chemist mixed two solutions in a 5-liter beaker.


The British English spelling of a metric unit of volume.
The kettle has a capacity of one litre.


A measure used commonly in the U.S. for liquid quantities.
I bought a liter of milk from the store.


A measure used commonly in the UK and other British English-speaking regions for liquid quantities.
Can you get a litre of orange juice from the shop?


Equivalent to 1,000 cubic centimeters or 1 cubic decimeter.
A box that's 10cm x 10cm x 10cm has a volume of one liter.


Used in British scientific contexts when referencing volume.
The lab technician used a 2-litre flask for the experiment.


A metric unit of volume equal to approximately 1.056 liquid quarts, 0.908 dry quart, or 0.264 gallon. See Table at measurement.


Variant of liter.


(American spelling) litre, one cubic decimeter.


The metric unit of fluid measure, equal to one cubic decimetre. Symbols: l, L, ℓ
You should be able to fill four cups with one litre of water.


A measure of capacity in the metric system, being a cubic decimeter, equal to 61.022 cubic inches, or 2.113 American pints, or 1.76 English pints.


(informal) A measure of volume equivalent to a litre.


A metric unit of capacity equal to the volume of 1 kilogram of pure water at 4 degrees centigrade and 760 mm of mercury (or approximately 1.76 pints)


Same as Liter.


A metric unit of capacity equal to the volume of 1 kilogram of pure water at 4 degrees centigrade and 760 mm of mercury (or approximately 1.76 pints)


Does the spelling difference affect measurements?

No, the measurement is consistent regardless of the spelling.

Would I see "Litre" used in Canada?

Yes, Canada typically uses "Litre," following British English conventions.

Is "Liter" the correct spelling in the U.S.?

Yes, "Liter" is the preferred American English spelling.

Which spelling is used in scientific research?

Both are used, depending on the country of publication.

Can I use "Liter" when writing for a British audience?

It's better to use "Litre" for a British audience for consistency.

Is there any difference in pronunciation?

Typically, no significant difference. Both sound like "LEET-er."

How did the two spellings originate?

They evolved from historical variations and standardizations in British and American English.

How do other languages spell the unit?

The spelling varies by language, with many using variations close to "Litre."

Are "Liter" and "Litre" the same in terms of volume?

Yes, they represent the same unit of volume, just different spellings.

Which version is used in international standards?

Both are recognized, but international standards might lean toward "Litre."

In which countries is "Litre" the common spelling?

UK, Australia, Canada, and many others following British English conventions.

Are there other words with such American/British differences?

Yes, like "color/colour" or "favor/favour."

How should I decide which spelling to use?

Consider your audience and the regional conventions of your content.

Why is there a difference in spelling?

It's a result of regional language variations between American and British English.

What is the origin of the word?

It derives from the French "litre."

Do American schools teach the "Litre" spelling?

Typically, American schools teach the "Liter" spelling.

Is one spelling better than the other?

Neither is "better"; it's about regional correctness and audience.

What symbol represents this unit of volume?

Both spellings use the symbol "L."

How many milliliters are in a liter/litre?

There are 1,000 milliliters in a liter/litre.

In software or apps, which spelling is used?

It often depends on the regional settings of the software.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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