Tyre vs. Tire – What’s the Difference?

If you have ever ridden a bicycle or a car, you will have noticed the rubber rings around the wheels of these vehicles. These are the vehicle’s tires. Or is it tyres?

Since they first became common in the 20th century, these rubber rings have been called by both words, which are actually spelling variants of the same noun. Today, though, only one of them sees widespread use. Continue reading to find out whether you should use tire or tyre.

What is the Difference Between Tyre and Tire?

In this post, I will compare tire vs. tyre. I will use each spelling in an example sentence and outline what English language community uses what spelling.

Later, I will show you a memory trick that will help you distinguish between these confusing words.

When to Use Tire

tyres or tiresWhat does tire mean? The word tire has multiple uses. Sometimes it is a verb that means to grow weary. In this article, though, I will focus on its use as a noun that means the soft, outer part of a wheel.

The plural of tire is tires. Tires are usually made of rubber and are usually filled with air. They wear out after prolonged use, and the tires on passenger cars need to be replaced from time to time. Tires on bicycles usually last a bit longer, but need to be inflated more often.

Here are a few sentences that feature the word tire,

  • Tom installed new all-weather tires on his pickup truck, and they cost him $600.
  • If you get a flat tire on your way to work, you will probably be late and in a bad mood when you get there.
  • Researchers at Ohio State University say they’ve found a way to use food waste as an alternative to some of the carbon black in tires. –The Wall Street Journal

The word tire is the American spelling of this word.

When to Use Tyre

canadian tire tyresWhat does tyre mean? Tyre is a spelling variant of the same word. Throughout history, it has been much more common in British English than in American English.

  • Erdington has a rich industrial past but since the demise of Fort Dunlop – a booming tyre factory which at its peak employed 10,000 – it has struggled economically. –The Guardian

Most British style guides still list tyre as a standard spelling in British English, but tire has many serious inroads in recent years.

Here is a graph that charts tyre vs. tire across British English books published since 1800. I have used a few different phrases to isolate the usage of tire as a noun.

tyre versus tire

Definition of tire definition

definition of tyre definition

As you can see, both words are commonly used in British English. Some are even quite close, depending on the exact phrase.

For a bit of contrast, take a look at the two words in American English,

Define tire and define tyre

tire or tyre which is correct

car tires or car tyres

As you can see, Americans have never really bothered with tyre.

Trick to Remember the Difference

For the time being, the historical distinction remains between these two words.

  • Tyre is the standard spelling in British English.
  • Tire is the standard spelling in American English.

You should use these spellings with their respective language communities.

You can remember that tyre is used in British English because it contains the letter “Y” like the county of Yorkshire.

Summary

Is it tyre or tire? Tire and Tyre are spelling variants of a noun that refers to the rubber outer portion of wheels.

  • Tyre was the British version.
  • Tire the American version.