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When is “L” doubled?

I'm confused about the two spellings. In which contexts do I have to use canceling or cancelling?

Google returns 15.6 million results with canceling and 18 million with cancelling, so I don't know what is the good spelling. Why are both possible, and are there other such pairs?

  • Hi Scorpi0. Welcome to the site. We encourage users to look up words in an online resource, like Dictionary.com before posting, since these source can answer basic questions like this. Sep 21 '11 at 14:13
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    Sorry Matt but I don't see the explanation on Dictionnary.com. The other question contains the answers I look for, so thank to pointing me on this! Sep 21 '11 at 14:25
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    I believe he's referring to "canceling (especially British)," which is not easily noticed if you're not looking for it. Wiktionary has the opposite take. And WordReference has a whole thread on it. From there: The general rule is that the final consonant is doubled if the final syllable is stressed. The exception to this rule is words ending in “l” in [British English] are always doubled. Mar 25 '16 at 20:18

There are many words that have different accepted spellings between British and American English.

The wiktionary.org entry for "cancelling" says:

Alternative forms

· canceling (US English)

This implies that a single "l" is preferred in American English and a double "l" in British English.

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    Of note: single "l" in American English only preferred (meaning used more often) since the early 1980's actually. books.google.com/ngrams/…. We're lazy of late :) Feb 13 '18 at 16:03
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    trends indicate that the triple "l" willl soon be preferrred.
    – philshem
    Feb 24 '18 at 18:44

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