Theatre or theater - which word is correct for using in GB and US? I faced with both and also heard the opinion that "theatre" is not used in US, although it's definitely not true.

  • 1
    Please consider waiting a couple days before accepting an answer. You might get one that addresses both AmE and BrE spelling properly. At the moment you've accepted an answer that only describes AmE spelling, even though your question asks about both.
    – user230
    Aug 15, 2017 at 22:55
  • Possible duplicate of To distinguish between American and British spelling
    – user3395
    Aug 15, 2017 at 23:00
  • Yes, thanks. Although I was interested in a detailed answer, I have a special interest in AmE. But your сomment is wise in general, I got it.
    – Andrei
    Aug 16, 2017 at 5:52

2 Answers 2


In the U.S.:

  • "Theater" is used in ordinary writing.
  • "Theatre" is sometimes used in the names of venues or arts groups that want to seem "high class" or "old fashioned".

These usages are similar to "the", "old", and "shop", as opposed to "ye", "olde", and "shoppe".


Dictionaries say that "theater" is US spelling while "theatre" is UK spelling. However, according to some dictionaries "theatre" is now equally acceptable in the US.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) says the “The earliest recorded English forms, c1380, are theatre and teatre; from c1550 to 1700, or later, the prevalent spelling was theater (so in Dictionaries from Cawdrey to Kersey), but theatre in Holland, Milton, Fuller, Dryden, Addison, Pope; Bailey 1721 has both, ‘Theatre, Theater’: and between 1720 and 1750, theater was dropped in Britain, but has been retained or (?) revived in U.S.

In British English, some words from French, Latin or Greek end with a consonant followed by an unstressed -re (pronounced (non-rhotic accent) /ə(ɹ)/ or (rhotic accent) /ɚ/). In American English, most of these words have the ending -er. The difference is most common for words ending -bre or -tre: British spellings calibre, centre, fibre, goitre, litre, lustre, manoeuvre, meagre, metre, mitre, nitre, ochre, reconnoitre, sabre, saltpetre, sepulchre, sombre, spectre, theatre (see exceptions) and titre all have -er in American spelling.

Wikipedia - American and British English spelling differences

In the US it's also common among some folks to refer to the building as "theater" and to the act as "theatre". However, not everyone follows such practice, and many exclusively use the American spelling. "Theatre" often appears in the proper names of American theaters, for example: the American Ballet Theatre, the Muncie Civic Theatre, and the Genessee Theatre. When referring to these buildings by the common noun "theater" is the usual spelling.

See: “Theater” vs. “Theatre” in American English

  • You will see both in the United States, but in your own writing it's best to use theater.
    – Andrew
    Aug 15, 2017 at 19:51
  • @Andrew I agree both can be seen. Aug 15, 2017 at 19:52
  • I faced with "theatre" even in the Department of Theatre of UCSB
    – Andrei
    Aug 15, 2017 at 20:05
  • 1
    In British English it is still more common to use theatre not the American English spelling of theater. @ Weather Vane this is an English site, and there are several versions of it in the modern world American, British, as just two of them, there are for example Australian and India as well.
    – Sarriesfan
    Aug 15, 2017 at 21:02
  • As you can see if you check the British National Corpus, theater is not more common than theatre in BrE spelling.
    – user230
    Aug 15, 2017 at 23:02

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