British-English Language Tools

 Mon, 26 Dec 2022 09:24 UTC

British-English Language Tools
Image: CC BY 4.0 by cybrkyd

The British-English Language Tools project was started in September 2021 by Darmeth. On 23 December 2022, the main GitHub repository was transferred to Cybrkyd’s account where future development of the project will continue.1

British-English Language Tools

On Linux-based systems, it is almost impossible to find a strict British-English dictionary, spell-checker or word list. Most English dictionaries shipped with each distribution include international spelling variants. Whilst this may not be a problem for some, for others, it may present challenges - especially on Linux-based systems - if seeking to ensure written work is spell-checked according to the well-established British Standard English convention.

All languages evolve and English is no exception. Given its wide-spread use, it has evolved to the point where it is now more inclusive of nuances and colloquialisms from the four corners of the world. By default, Oxford2 and Cambridge3 include US/CAD/AUS English variants and references in their published and online dictionaries.

In an effort to segregate the British-English spelling standard from everything else, the British English Language Tools project was created with the aim of enabling a Linux-based user to conduct spell-checking system-wide in pure British English.

Since initial release in September 2021, the British English Language Tools project has itself evolved to now include plugins for Thunderbird4 and Firefox.5 The original dictionary file for the Linux-based system will, by default, propagate and be used as the system’s default language, if desired.

Inclusion Rules

The base word-list must conform to the preferred standard of British-English spelling. In brief:

  • -ise is preferred over -ize; -sation over -zation, etc.
  • US-English spelling is not allowed (e.g. color, odor, etc.)
  • Some (few) universally-recognised words are allowed and included:
    • Words such as movie, bike, soccer, vacation, et al.
  • Common proper names are included; not just common British / English names but also common names from around the world.
  • A limited number of hyphenated words are present but only where the individual words are not already included.
  • English borrows some words from French and other languages and therefore inherits the associated diacritical marks. A limited number of such words with diacritics are included, for example, blasé, café, cliché, coup d’état, déjà vu, crème brûlée, crème fraiche. However, the non-diacritical form should also be included; for example, blase, cafe, cliche, coup d’etat, deja vu, creme brulee, creme fraiche.


The British-English Language Tools project is available under a GPL3 license.

Continuing development

The original word list contained over 150,000 entries, compiled from various public domain sources. Entries that did not conform to the preferred standard of British-English spelling were removed.

The list continues to be improved in accordance with the set-out Editorial Policy.

Open Source

The British-English Language Tools project is an open source initiative and therefore, any contributions are most welcome. Further information and details are on GitHub.

  1. Cybrkyd on GitHub: British-English Language Tools ↩︎

  2. Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries: Oxford Dictionary example of US-English reference ↩︎

  3. Cambridge Dictionary: Cambridge Dictionary example of US-English reference ↩︎

  4. British-English Dictionary (GB): Thunderbird Add-ons - British-English Dictionary (GB) ↩︎

  5. British-English Dictionary (GB): Firefox Add-ons - British-English Dictionary (GB) ↩︎