5

I am referring to the use of the verb "to buffet" meaning

"(especially of wind or waves) strike repeatedly and violently; batter."

The use of "buffeted" and "buffeting" is widespread. However use of "buffetted" and "buffetting" still occurs. There is, incidentally, a huge ratio in favour of the single "t" (about 4:1 200 years ago, currently about 60:1).

However, to my British eye, the single "t" looks wrong though, in a similar way to "travelers" and "travellers" being the AmE and BrE spellings.

Some websites list the double "t" spelling, but I've yet to find any that qualify it as being British. Nor do they label it as obsolete, archaic or any of the other indications that I should ignore my feelings and accept the single "t" as the currently accepted spelling. N.B. I am deliberately avoiding the word "correct" :-)


Curiously, I've just found a 1764 English - French dictionary that translates "buffetted" as "soufleté" in French, a word which is now spelled with a double "f" as "*souffleté" (meaning "slapped" or similar). I love how fluid language is over time.

  • Apparently there is little usage difference between AmE and BrE: buffeted - books.google.com/ngrams/… - buffetted - books.google.com/ngrams/… – user067531 Aug 16 '18 at 12:19
  • 4
    This is quite interesting, actually. The general rule – that polysyllabics only double their final consonant if the final syllable is stressed or (in BrE) the final consonant is an L – doesn’t seem to be quite consistent in words ending in /ət ~ ɪ̵t/. Buffetting, cossetting, and rivetting do occur (though infrequently), but *marketting, *pocketting, and *ferretting are completely nonexistent, as far as I can tell. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 16 '18 at 14:29
  • You said, «any of the other indications that I should ignore my feelings and accept the double "t" as the currently accepted spelling».  Did you mean, «any of the other indications that I should ignore my feelings and accept the single "t" as the currently accepted spelling»? – Scott Aug 17 '18 at 1:29
  • @Scott well spotted, I'll edit to correct. – Phil M Jones Aug 17 '18 at 7:53
7

Actually all online dictionaries suggest buffeting and buffeted with one single “t” as present participle, simple past, and and past participle of to buffet. Only wiktionary mentions the alternative double t forms.

Checking with Google Books it appears that it is not an AmE vs BrE issue, but rather an archaic usage, present in the Bible for instance, that may have survived as non-standard form.

3

I believe this has to do with the rules for doubling final consonants, and nothing to do with AmE or BrE.

According to Ann Carr at Owlcation,

Rule 4: Don't Double in a Root Word With More Than One Syllable When Last Syllable Not Stressed

In a word with more than one syllable there is no doubling of the last consonant unless the stress is on the last syllable.

double consonants

Merriam-Webster learner's dictionary gives the same rule:

In a word with 2 or more syllables, double the final consonant ONLY if the word ends in 1 vowel + 1 consonant AND the final syllable is stressed.

BBC Skillswise - English and Maths for adults confirms this too (see rule 4).

Doubling consonants

Study.com has a great video explaining the consonant rules

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