Language Tips

Spelling tip of the week – collectable

Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter

In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of spelling tips we will be looking at some of the most commonly misspelled words in English and suggesting ways to improve your spelling.

Until now, people searching in the British English version of Macmillan Dictionary for collectible will have been offered collectable instead. Conversely, anyone searching for collectable in the American version will have been offered collectible.

The reason for this lies in the Dictionary’s print origins: the first and second paper editions of Macmillan Dictionary were published in two different versions, one for users of British English and another for users of American English. So if you looked up ‘sidewalk’ in the American version you would get the full entry, while if you looked it up in the British version you would get a reduced version telling you that it is the American word for ‘pavement’.

The case of collectible/collectable is less clear-cut. While US English prefers the -ible spelling and UK English prefers -able, there is a lot of overlap. A corpus search in fact reveals that while the UK/US preference still holds, collectible is over four times more frequent than collectable, so it may be that the former spelling is taking over.

In the meantime we have tweaked the Macmillan Dictionary entries, so that now you will be taken straight to the entry, whether you are using the US or the UK version and whether you search for collectable or collectible.

You can find some information on why English spelling is so difficult, as well as helpful tips on mastering it here. You can search for other posts in this series using the tag ‘spelling tips’.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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