Totaled or Totalled: What’s the Difference?

English is used differently in different parts of the world. This is evident in several ways. One of the most obvious differences is in spelling conventions between American and British English.

The words totaled and totalled offer a clear illustration of these spelling differences. One of these words is the preferred in British English, while the other has become standard in American English.

Continue reading for an exploration of the differences between these two spellings, and for help deciding whether totalled or totaled is correct, based on your intended audience.

What is the Difference Between Totaled and Totalled?

In this article, I will compare totaled vs. totalled. I will also use each in a sentence. Plus, I will discuss a helpful trick that will help you decide whether to use totaled or totalled in your own writing.

When to Use Totaled

totaled versus totalledWhat does totaled mean? Totaled is a verb. It can function as the past tense for total, which means to add. You can see examples of this sense of the verb below.

  • Marie totaled up our expenses, and found that we owed the hotel $5,726.21, all told.
  • The two forwards totaled five goals between them over the past seven matches.

In American English, totaled also refers to an item which has sustained damage so great that the cost of repairs exceeds its appraised value.

This usage is informal, and typically refers to vehicles that have been in accidents. It can be a verb, where it typically means to wreck, or an adjective, where it means having sustained damage that exceeds its value. See the following sentences as examples.

  • Mark had too much to drink and totaled his car on the interstate.
  • Mark’s insurance company determined that his 1991 Buick LeSabre is now considered totaled, since it has a bent frame and is only worth $400.
  • A non-profit organization is raising money to replace its van used to transport young children after it was totaled in a nine car crash last week. –NJ.com

Totaled is the standard form of this word in American English, following the convention of dropping the double letter in Americanized spelling. See also canceled, labeled, traveled, etc.

When to Use Totalled

Definition of totalled definition and definition of totaled definitionWhat does totalled mean? Totalled is the British English spelling of the same word. It can also be used as a past tense of total.

For example,

  • The accountant totalled up her billable hours and sent the company an invoice.
  • Data from market researchers Nielsen showed that spending at bargain stores totalled £4.9bn in the year to July, up 17% from the previous year. –The Guardian

British English speakers do not typically use totalled to describe a wrecked vehicle.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Define totalled and define totaledHere is a helpful trick to remember totalled vs. totaled in your writing.

You should use totaled with primarily American audiences, and totalled with predominantly British audiences.

You can remember that totalled is the British English version since it shares the double L with the British towns Bexhill-on-Sea, Gillingham, and New Mills. Just as these towns have a double L and are British, so totalled has a double L and is British.

Summary

Is it totaled or totalled? Totaled and totalled are two spellings of the same word.

  • Totaled is preferred in American English.
  • Totalled is standard in British English.

By noticing the LL that totalled shares with several British towns, you can remember to reserve totalled for use with British audiences.

If you still need help, you can always refer back to this article for additional guidance.