Canceled versus Cancelled

There are these annoying gray areas when coding that eat up way too much time but if you don't get it right, you look like a jerk later on. Here's the situation: one of my teammates has two events, both signifying that something was cancelled. He had named the first FooCancelled and he named the second one BarCanceled. When he noticed the different spellings, he decided to use Word as the arbitrator: “Whoever gets the red squiggly loses! Fight now!” Anyway, in an upset decision Word said they were both winners. Looking up the word on verifies this: they are indeed both correct. However, being a developer and thus lacking the ability to see anything other than in Boolean terms, I can't accept them both as being equally correct.

So, the question is: which one should we use? The Framework only has a couple occasions of it, that I could find, and they opt for “canceled.” I prefer the double “l” because I find it easier to read.

We're gonna flip a coin for now, but if the coin lands on its edge, I'm freaking out...

[Update: I should have checked our Manual of Style first, but for some reason I didn't. The mos says: one “l“. Google may have sided with the two “l”s, but I gotta run with the mos... Canceled is victor! ] 

Comments (25)

  1. Phil Scott says:

    The google fight between the two seems to give the edge to cancelled by a 2:1 ratio. Plus it is the one I use, so it has to be right.

  2. Woo Seok Seo says:

    Haha.. Google says ‘Cancelled’ win!

  3. Tim Marman says:

    I never realized "canceled" was an accepted spelled before…

  4. I say Cancelled says:

    Have you FxCop’ed it?

  5. Daren says:

    Oxford Concise Dictionary has the spelling as Cancelled and the US spelling as Canceled.

  6. Tristan says:

    So the US flavor is a single "L"? I wonder where that came from? Like Tim, I didn’t even know the single version was proper. I wonder if the common use is a double "l" and the single version is out of date. Google seems to prove that this is true for websites…

  7. So, the MoS ays one l. But, look up the entry "Abort":


    should cancel a request with STATUS_CANCELLED.

  8. Peter says:

    Funny, I found this page via Google because I have almost the same situation as described in this post! Scary. Not only did I find in Google that "cancelled" is used more often than "canceled". I found the following interesting, but otherwise useless information:

    (a) 150.000 pages use both "canceled" and "cancelled".

    (b) 149.000 pages use both "cancelled" and "canceled" (try it, and ask yourself why is there a difference?).

    (c) 316 pages use "cancellled".

    (d) 25 pages use "canceled", "cancelled" AND "cancellled".

    (e) 4 pages even use "cancelllled".

  9. Tristan says:

    Peter, by far the largest percentage of my traffic is from people googling "cancelled or canceled" (partly because I haven’t entered anything on this blog for a while), sometimes hitting my title verbatim. I feel like I’ve done my One Good Thing for mankind now. Thanks for the comment…

  10. Michael B. Cohn says:

    Hrm. Conversely to most people here, I’m used to using one l, and didn’t know until today that two l’s are acceptable. Which gets more hits on google, though, is not an indicator of what’s correct, nor is it an indicator of which is actually used more.

  11. Jamie says:

    Just because people have improperly misspelled canceled for so long that it has come to be accepted does not make it correct.


  12. jeremy says:

    "improperly misspelled"

    What’s this ?

    How do you improperly misspell something ??

    Im sure I’ve misspelled some things, but have I improperly misspelled them ?

    If I’ve improperly misspelled something, is it then spelled properly ?

  13. Tristan says:

    Well, you can properly misspell something by intentionally spelling it wrong for readability sake. Or, you can improperly misspell something, which would be the common, accidental case.

    I think to a larger point, however, I disagree with jamie’s comment. I think languages evolve through common misspellings and incorrect grammar usage. A language is not something that is driven through a standards body, but more a reflection or compilation of social communication at a certain point in time (I am aware that some countries do tightly control their languages, France being one, but I’m not sure how that works.)

    The bottom line is *both* spellings are correct, according to any dictionary I’ve found, so it’s *in*correct to say they’ve been "misspelled." And really, by definition, once a misspelling has become "accepted" it is no longer a misspelling, but now the correct spelling.

  14. Giac says:

    To add fire to the flame, the term "accepted" is the key here. When was "cancelled" accepted? Last month, last year, last decade? Perhaps last century? Those who allow English to be degraded… well, ’nuff said.

  15. It all comes from the root of the word – the original old english had a double l, and hence any change from that is a corruption.

  16. Mahavir says:

    Earlier I Never knew it was that important

  17. Banal Drivel says:

    Back in the old days when I took my horse and buggy to school, the correct spelling was "canceled". For some reason, "cancelled" annoyes me…kind of like, "Got milk?".

  18. George Collins says:

    I think the spelling tendency is to double the final consonant when the final consonant is accented. So "cancel" has the first syllable accented. The American spelling is "canceled".

    "propeller" comes from "propel" and has the final consonant accented, and therefore has its final consonant doubled.

  19. Quintissential Englishman says:

    Canceled is NOT English! Its an Americanism.

    Either spell English words correctly, or give your language a different name. (How about Americanism?)

    Cancelled is proper English. It was used even before Banal Drivel’s Horse and cart.

    Learn to speak it.

  20. Task Parallel Library (TPL) allows you to easily cancel tasks. Effectively you need to call the Cancel

  21. Task Parallel Library (TPL) allows you to easily cancel tasks. Effectively you need to call the Cancel

Skip to main content