Could you please tell me which spelling conforms to US English?

Jane levelled/leveled a look at her mom, making it clear she wasn't in a mood to listen.

The Dictionary lists both as acceptable, so I wondered which one would be more appropriate in US English.

  • AmE spelling usually opts for the simpler version. Here leveled would be the American way to render that.
    – Robusto
    Nov 1, 2017 at 19:17
  • Did you check a dictionary? level
    – user3169
    Nov 1, 2017 at 19:23
  • All seven of my word processing programs, on several devices, use leveled when set to AmE. Nov 1, 2017 at 19:24
  • The -el verb I see most often is travel, so traveled and travelled are the usual spellings west and east of the pond. Nov 1, 2017 at 21:02
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Which one is correct? "cancelled" or "canceled"
    – Void
    Jan 14, 2021 at 18:37

2 Answers 2


Not all dictionaries make it clear, but as others have said, the usual AmE form is leveled.

One dictionary that does express this clearly is Longman (if you scroll down the page until near the bottom, where it deals with level as a verb):

verb (levelled, levelling British English, leveled, leveling American English)

There are many other verbs in -l that follow the same pattern: travel, cancel, counsel, dial, model, signal, etc. In most (possibly all) cases the double-l forms are considered acceptable (if less common) alternatives in AmE. On the other hand, the double-l forms are generally considered mandatory in BrE.

  • 1
    I found this to be a quite good description of British and American spelling differences and it includes the guideline "In British spelling, verbs ending in a vowel plus l double the l when adding endings that begin with a vowel. In American English, the l is not doubled."
    – ColleenV
    Nov 2, 2017 at 3:27

I'm American and I would spell it "levelled" and I spelled it "levelled" when I used the word in my last English paper; however, I was always taught to double the l's in the past tense (most of the time). In most American English spellings, the simpler spellings of words are used, so one l; however, I disagree with it in this case because I was taught as a little kid to double the l. In fact, I can still see Mrs. Long and Mrs. Ehas in my mind (3rd and 4th grade teachers respectively) writing sentences on the board and showing the double l for the past tense. Other than this and "theatre", I believe I do American spellings for everything else. The only reason I spell "theatre" with -re more often than I spell it "theater" with -er is that the movie theatre I went to when I was a little kid spelled it "theatre". I remember being about 9 or 10-years-old and asking my mother why I see it spelled both "theatre" and "theater" and she just told me that they were alternate spellings and that "theatre" with the -re was just a fancier way of spelling it, so I stuck with the "fancier" way since I had thought "fancier" denoted "more correct".

The strange thing is that the strip mall my mother and I would go to when I was a kid was on "SOM Centre Road" and was called "SOM Centre Plaza"; yet I don't spell "center" with -re probably because "center" is a more common word than "theatre" and I never asked my mother about that spelling.

I also spell "grey" with an "e" rather than "gray" with an "a", but I don't know whether "gray" is an American English spelling or vice versa because I frequently see it spelled both ways all of the time. It's not like "centre" or "colour" wherein I only see it spelled those ways on rare occasions.

  • 3
    It would be more useful to describe how it's usually spelled in AmE writing than to give a series of anecdotes about how you spelled this, that, or the other and whether you personally conform to the conventions of AmE spelling on individual words the OP didn't ask about.
    – user230
    Nov 1, 2017 at 20:50
  • I think I'm saying to the person that spelling is fluid. I don't think there is conformity on the double l in American English. I've read up on it and it seems to be something new, which is why I don't conform to it because it was never taught that way when I was in school.
    – Nick
    Nov 2, 2017 at 8:15

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