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“Program” vs. “Programme”—What’s the Difference?

Updated on May 17, 2023Grammar

In American English, program is the correct spelling. In Australian and Canadian English, program is the more common spelling. In British English, programme is the preferred spelling, although program is often used in computing contexts.

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Decades ago, program appeared in both American and British writing. In the nineteenth century, the Brits started to favor the French way of spelling it—programme. This word is just one of many examples of how British English spelling and American English spelling differ.

Program definition

However it’s spelled, program refers a plan of actions, activities, or procedures, usually for a specific purpose. Alternatively, it can refer to a list of acts or performers associated with an event, such as a theatrical play or a concert. Program can also function as a verb. It means to set, regulate, or modify to produce a specific result. When referring to writing code, both British and Americans use program as the preferred spelling.

The school started a morning breakfast program before classes.

The computer whiz programmed her computer to wake him up thirty minutes after sunrise.

The backup dancer cried when he realized his name was not included in the program.

Examples of program in a sentence

Program in the US

“‘By age 18, children not served by the Chicago CPC program were 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime,’ he said. ‘And, by age 24, those who were served by the program were 20 percent less likely to have served time in a jail or prison. By age 27, children not served by the Perry Preschool program were five times more likely to be chronic offenders, with five or more arrests.’” —Downtown Express

“Among the gadgets is Code-A-Pillar, a caterpillar-shaped robot comprised of interchangeable segments, each of which adds a different movement command to the overall contraption, allowing the stripling scholars to program its behavior as they work out a pattern that gets the bot from Point A to Point B.” —Arkansas Matters

Program and programme outside the US

“An accomplished dancer and part of the academy’s professional training program, she recently placed third in the Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) of dance in the senior classical ballet category.” —The Victoria News

“Libratus, an artificial intelligence program developed at Carnegie Mellon University, was trained to play a variant of the game known as no-limit heads-up Texas hold ‘’em.” —BBC News

An Irish scientist will feature in a BBC television programme on Wednesday night, to discuss the apparent health benefits of eating fermented foods.” —The Victoria News

Do you find it easy to tell the difference between program and programme? It’s fun to discover the differences between American and British English. Why not check out these articles about the past tense of the verbs learn and label?

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