In English, some words have more than one spelling. They don’t have to change their meaning or the way they are pronounced—nothing changes except a couple of letters. Then again, that’s more than enough to make you unnecessarily wonder about whether you’re using the correct spelling.
Is It Catalog or Catalogue?
If you’re having doubts about the way you’re spelling the word catalog, don’t worry—you can spell it like so, or you can spell it catalogue. Both spellings are correct and they don’t affect the meaning of the word at all. Looking through history, we see that the Middle English form of the word was somewhere between the two versions used today—it was cataloge. The word came into the English language through the Old French catalogue, but its roots can be traced through the Late Latin catalogus, all the way to the Greek katalogos.
Today, it’s usually said that the shorter spelling is preferred in the United States, while the rest of the world prefers the longer spelling. But these boundaries are blurring, and the alternate way of spelling is becoming increasingly popular, especially in the United States. But wherever you are, you won’t be making a mistake if you use either of the spellings, most of the time.
Catalog(ue) the Noun and How to Use it
When used as a noun, catalog refers to a list of items, usually sorted in some kind of order:
“The streaming service Tidal added more than 15 Prince albums to its catalog early Tuesday, on what would have been his 58th birthday.”
—The New York Times
“Today, close to 40 percent of all the images in the Lego catalog contain some sort of violence, the study found, with the fastest growth occurring in cases of shooting.”
—The Huffington Post
“What I can set down here in writing only amounts to a catalog.”
—Haruki Murakami, Hear the Wind Sing
If you prefer the spelling catalogue, you can find plenty of examples of it being used as well:
“In a rare touch of humour in the dour world of Spanish politics, the anti-austerity party Podemos has published its manifesto in the style of the Ikea catalogue.”
“And then Target ever so kindly linked to the online catalogue for the woman to peruse at her leisure.”
“I would sooner read the catalogue of the Army and Navy stores or Bradshaw’s Guide than nothing at all, and indeed I have spent many delightful hours over both these works.”
—W. Somerset Maugham, Collected Short Stories: Volume 4
Catalog(ue) the Verb and How to Use It
You can also use catalog as a verb. In that case, it means creating a list of items, usually sorted in some order, or entering items into such a list. The inflected forms of the verb keep the root’s original spelling:
“A new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center cataloged more than 700 such monuments and statues.”
“He recalled bringing in preservationists and archivists to begin the daunting process of cataloging and protecting the relics.”
—Los Angeles Times
“They catalogued a series of welfare and safety concerns.”
“As a young professor in the 1990s, Dr. Drew Harvell began cataloguing the collection, discovering a ‘time capsule’ of 19th-century marine biology.—