Traditions and History

Traditions & History

Honors vs. Honours

Since its founding in 1878, The University of Western Ontario has been consistent in its use of the spelling "honor" rather than "honour" on diploma parchments, in Senate minutes and in academic calendar materials. Periodically over the years the Senate has reviewed this practice; the most recent review occurred in 1997. During that review, a number of authorities were canvassed, all of which confirmed that either spelling is acceptable Canadian usage. The New Fowler's Modern English Usage (3rd edition, 1996), for example, explains that the "-our" spelling came into English from Latin via Anglo-Norman; the "-or" spelling came into common use during the Renaissance and results from a direct translation to English from Latin without the Anglo-Norman filter.  Fowler acknowledges that "-our" is the accepted British usage and "-or" the accepted American spelling, but says that "...Canadians are for the most part free to choose whichever spelling they prefer." Other language sources provided similar advice noting that actual usage in Canada varies. Given this information, and given the long tradition of the "-or" spelling at this institution, the Senate approved a resolution that the "honors" spelling be reaffirmed.