Dreamed or Dreamt: What’s the Difference?

At some point in our lives, we have all had our family or friends recall a dream to us that they recently had. Maybe some of them were telling a funny story about an unlikely situation they imagined while they were bored or intoxicated. Maybe they were in outer space or deep-sea diving.

While recalling your own personal dreams, however, have you ever wondered what the proper past tense of to dream is? Is it dreamed or dreamt? Is one of these conjugations more correct than the other?

Continue reading to find out.

What is the Difference Between Dreamed and Dreamt?

In this post, I will compare dreamed vs. dreamt. I will provide sentence examples for each spelling to illustrate its proper context.

Plus, I will demonstrate a mnemonic that will help you decide whether to use dreamt or dreamed.

When to Use Dreamed

Definition of dreamt definition and definition of dreamed definitionWhat does dreamed mean? Dreamed is the past tense, and past participle, of the verb dream, which means to imagine or to experience the thoughts and sensations of an active mind while asleep.

To dream is also sometimes used figuratively as a synonym of the words design or create, as in the phrase to dream up.

For example,

  • I dreamed that I won millions of dollars gambling in Las Vegas, and then flew away on a dragon.
  • Our engineers dreamed up these plans for an orbital battle station; try not to lose them.
  • I dreamed a dream of time gone by, when hope was young and life worth living.
  • Ross, the son of a lawyer, grew up in suburban New Jersey and dreamed of being a writer. –The Wall Street Journal

At the risk of stating the obvious, dreamed should be pronounced so that it rhymes with seemed and beamed.

When to Use Dreamt

Define dreamt and define dreamed What does dreamt mean? Dreamt is an alternate form of the same past tense conjugation. It can be used in all the same contexts as dreamed.

While not incorrect, this variant is less common in both American and British English. It is pronounced so that it rhymes with tempt and unkempt.

Here are some examples,

  • Those figures are not accurate; the accountant must have been drunk when he dreamt them up.
  • Jennie dreamt that her brother ate seven large pizzas without getting sick.
  • Every soldier on the battlefield dreamt of home on Christmas Eve.
  • Have you ever dreamt about failing an exam? If so, you’re in good company. –The Guardian

Which Word Should I Use?

dreamed versus dreamt Dreamed and dreamt each form the past tense and past participle of the verb dream. They are both correct, but dreamed is more common in both British and American English. The British tend to use dreamt more often than the Americans, but still not as much as dreamed.

Additionally, dreamed is probably considered more refined than dreamt.

For example,

  • As a child, I dreamed of being a millionaire.

This seems more refined than,

  • As a child, I dreamt of being a millionaire.

Since dreamed is the more common variant, it is probably the better choice in formal writing scenarios. Here’s a helpful trick to remember dreamt vs. dreamed.

  • Dreamed rhymes with esteemed, which is an easy way to remember to use it in formal settings.

Summary

Is it dreamt or dreamed? Dreamed and dreamt are two forms of the same word, which is the past tense and past participle of the verb dream.

They are interchangeable. Both are correct, but dreamed is more common in all English-speaking regions, and is therefore a practical choice for professional or educational writing.

Since dreamed rhymes with esteemed, it should be easy to remember that dreamed is better in these esteemed types of writing.

In summary,

  • Both dreamed and dreamt are acceptable.
  • Dreamed is considered slightly more refined.
  • Dreamed is also used more four times more frequently than dreamt.
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