I'm considering creating an application which has the word "Aeroplane" in the title. However, I have noticed in Google the following trend:

Aeroplane: 16,700,000 results

Airplane: 119,000,000 results

I'm British and would never think to use the term "Airplane", it seems juvenile to me. However, the search results speak for themselves, so I'm wondering if this is an Americanism and if people on the other side of the Atlantic would be equally unfamiliar with the world "aeroplane".

Natually, I want my app to be available to a global market, I also want to make sure it is easily accessibly via searches. Would it therefore be most prudent to go with "airplane" rather than "aeroplane"?

  • 1
    As long as you use other British spellings, too, why not? colour, programme, artefact, gaol, ... You are merely marking it as a British-made application.
    – GEdgar
    Aug 26 '11 at 15:21
  • 4
    This is more of a technical answer, but when you're writing software, you generally write the text for one 'locale' first, then hand that list of words/phrases off to translators to provide equivalents in other locales as required. US and UK English are treated as separate locales, so as long as you provide text for (at least) those two locales in your app, users can choose whichever they prefer -- and in many cases, the device will choose the more appropriate option automatically, based on the device's country of origin, and/or user preference.
    – calum_b
    Aug 26 '11 at 17:24
  • 2
    Sorry, just realized you were talking specifically about using the word in the title, which does make things a little trickier-- you probably don't want your app to have a different name on both sides of the pond, although it wouldn't be unheard of. Can't you just use "Plane" instead? :P
    – calum_b
    Aug 26 '11 at 17:29
  • 1
    Or, a single choice (take your pick) for the title, but use the localised name for other text inside the application.
    – Hugo
    Aug 26 '11 at 20:17
  • related question; Aeroplane and airplane Sep 11 '11 at 9:46

North Americans would understand the word aeroplane, but would almost certainly never use it in a Web search without a specific reason to do so. In addition, a quick and by no means scientific check suggests that Google seems less inclined to collapse airplane and aeroplane together in searches than it does with some other spelling variants (e.g., honor/honour)—i.e. a search for one variant may be unlikely to lead to the other.

If discoverability is your goal, then, I suggest going with the more common spelling: airplane.


My copy of the Federal Aviation Regulations/Aeronautical Information Manual (published by the FAA) defines both "aircraft" and "airplane".

"airplane means an engine-driven fixed wing aircraft heavier than air, that is supported in flight by dynamic reaction of the air against its wings.

aircraft means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air"

"Aeroplane" is not used or defined in this manual.

To myself as a trained American aerospace engineer, "aeroplane" sounds silly, old-fashioned, or British. "aircraft" sounds the most professional though it does have a slightly more broad meaning, and there is nothing wrong with the use of "airplane". All of the textbooks that I have use "aircraft" in their titles.

  • 1
    So aircraft could include helicopters, whereas airplane couldn't?
    – ClickRick
    Oct 27 '15 at 9:21
  • 2
    So Americans still say "aerospace engineer", then, and not "airspace engineer" (for consistency with the other quirk)
    – Hakanai
    Jul 2 '17 at 13:02
  • The "plane" in airplane refers to the wings, you wouldn't call anything but a fixed wing aircraft an airplane. In years of studying, applying for jobs, and knowing very many aerospace engineers, I never once recall hearing or seeing "airspace engineer" Sep 2 '17 at 20:40

It seems to be an Americanism:

Aeroplane, originally a French loanword with a different meaning, is the older spelling. The oldest recorded uses of the spelling airplane are British. According to the OED, "airplane became the standard American term (replacing aeroplane) after this was adopted by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1916. Although A. Lloyd James recommended its adoption by the BBC in 1928, it has until recently been no more than an occasional form in British English." In the British National Corpus, aeroplane outnumbers airplane by more than 7:1 in the UK. The case is similar for the British aerodrome and American airdrome, although both of these terms are now obsolete. Aerodrome is used merely as a technical term in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

So, as you can see, Americans adopted "airplane" in 1916. That's why, to you, as a British, "aeroplane" is more natural.

I would say, go with any that you like. They are both equally understood anyway. However, if you desire to sound more professional, use "aeroplane". It sounds more technical.

  • 10
    That's funny, because to my American ears, "aeroplane" sounds archaic, not technical.
    – JeffSahol
    Aug 26 '11 at 15:05
  • 2
    I don't think it's a matter of a technical word; it's just that the word is more similar to the word from which it originated.
    – apaderno
    Aug 26 '11 at 17:47
  • 5
    As someone who works in the aerospace industry in the USA, I can tell you it most assuredly does not look "more professional" or "more technical" either. To me it looks like a word that belongs in a steampunk novel.
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 26 '11 at 18:34
  • 1
    I'm neither British nor American, and my English is a mixture of the two, but in this case it seems apt / just to call it the way the Americans do, given the fact that they invented the first practical flying machine. Aug 26 '11 at 19:48
  • I get it, we both heard different words for the same meaning when growing up. 'Airplane' sounds childish and non-technical to me, but I understand that I was born in a place where that word is not common place, so I will not judge. I will just accept both Jan 3 '17 at 19:33

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