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What is the difference between "Bobsled" and "Bobsleigh"? Can they be used interchangeably? Which one is used more widely?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

According to Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary and Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, bobsled is used more often in North American English, bobsleigh is used more often in British English. There is no difference between them.

Google Books Ngram Viewer — bobsled vs bobsleigh — American English enter image description here Google Books Ngram Viewer — bobsled vs bobsleigh — British English enter image description here

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Note that "sleigh" is rather more common than "sled" in British usage (nGram has them neck and neck since 1960, but before then "sleigh" was much more common). –  Colin Fine Apr 29 '11 at 12:25
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On the NOAD, it gives Bobsled as the main term and Bobsleigh as "another term", like a synonym, but then there is only a Wikipedia article about Bobsleigh, not Bobsled (although they are both mentioned in the article).

Anyway, on the OALD, it says Bobsleigh is the British term, while Bobsled is North American.

So, depending on the context you can use either.

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I am watching the 2014 Winter Olympics on Canadian t.v. (CBC). While the official term at the Olympics is Bobsleigh, the Canadian announcers are using bobsleigh only when referring to events and using bobsled, sled, bobsledder otherwise.

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Well, bobsleigh is the name in the official Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing, not bobsled.

We call it bobsleigh in Canada, and we also call another sport "sledge" hockey, as does the rest of the world, but of course in the US it's called "sled" hockey.

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