Instal or Install – Which Spelling Is Correct? (UK/US)

It’s interesting to realize how some words have become part of our vocabulary because of the new technology that surrounds us. Think about “Instal” and “Install”, for example. Those are words that we didn’t use as much before but are quite common now.

But which spelling is correct?

Instal or Install – Which Spelling Is Correct?

For some time, “Instal” was the spelling most used in the UK, by British English speakers, while “Install” was the spelling most used in the US, by American English speakers. Currently, “Install” has become the standard for this word, and everyone is using the same form.

instal or install

Take a look at the examples below.

  • Make sure you instal the proper software.
  • Make sure you install the proper software.

Although “Instal” isn’t incorrect per se, it might look strange for most people to see that form being used instead of the traditional “Install”. You should keep two things in mind: first, that “Instal” is particularly common in the UK and, second, that “Install” is in general used more often.

It’s interesting to notice that both The Cambridge Dictionary and The Oxford Dictionary acknowledge the form “Install” as the correct one, indicating that the trend is that “Instal” will eventually become obsolete and be completely replaced by “Install”.

For now, those words are synonyms, interchangeable, and share the same meaning. “Install” might be more widely accepted, but you wouldn’t be wrong for choosing to use “Instal”.


“Instal” is the least common form for the word that indicates that something is or will be made ready to use. It could refer to a physical item, such as a device or piece of furniture, or it could be related to a software or application, for example.

Take a look at the examples below, that show “Instal” and some of its variations:

  1. You need to instal this software to be able to do the work.
  2. Joel instaled the program and made sure it’s ready for you.
  3. You have to instal a calculator program.
  4. Has the technician instaled the new washer and dryer yet?
  5. If you have trouble instaling the equipment let me know.
  6. It took the team a whole day to instal the new interface.

“Instal” was originally used mostly in the UK. As time went by, it seems it lost space to what is not considered the standard form for this word: “Install”.

We believe that os this trend continues, “Instal” will eventually become obsolete. However, until then, you can use any of the forms and still be orthographically correct.


“Install” is the most common form for the word that indicates to put something in place so that’s ready for use. As “Instal”, it can be used for physical equipment and things, and technical matters (like apps and computer programs).

Take a look at some helpful examples below:

  1. Don’t you think you should install the software first?
  2. Anya needs to install the program for work.
  3. I quickly installed the app, so you don’t have to.
  4. The software update is not available to install yet.
  5. The sound system was installed today, so we should try it.
  6. Installing the new TV was as easy as plugging it into the power source.

“Install” is the standard form for this word. If you can (and if you feel comfortable with it), we’d recommend that you prefer using “Install” instead of the older form, “Instal”. Although both are correct, “Instal” tends to become obsolete in the soon future.

Instal or Install In the UK?

In the UK, for some time, the word “Instal” was more common and, consequently, more used than “Install”. It started to shift right before the 1950s when the use of this word began to decrease (while the use for “Install” increased).

Take a look at the graph from Google Ngram Viewer below to have a better view of that dynamic.

instal or install UK

Currently, “Install” is the preferred word in the UK, by British English speakers. It confirms that the trend is that “Install” becomes the prevalent form of this word, as its standard form. “Instal” tends to eventually become obsolete.

Instal or Install In the US?

In the US, “Install” has always been preferred. For some reason, “Instal” never really had a chance among American English speakers, and was always the least used form of this word – even when it was still the favorite in the UK.

Let’s take a look at the graph from Google Ngram Viewer below, to see that difference for ourselves.

instal or install US

Even when “Instal” was common in the UK, “Install” was already the favorite form in the US.

We wonder if it was the American way of using the word that influenced the British to change the most common spelling of the word. Or if it was just the fact that the IT people always liked “Install” more.

But how about Canada and Australia, as well as the English-speaking world in general?

Instal or Install In Canada and Australia?

When comparing the use of a word in the UK and the US, we’re always curious to see what’s the preferred form when we look at the English-speaking world as a whole, including Canada and Australia. Do you think everyone would follow the trend we saw in the UK?

We’ll find out by taking a look at the graph from Google Ngram Viewer below.

instal or install usage

In the English-speaking world, “Install” has always been the favorite form. “Instal” used to be a bit more frequent, until the mid-1980s, but since lost a lot of space, allowing for “Install” to become the preferred form of that word.

Final Thoughts

“Instal” and “Install” are both correct alternate forms for the word that means to get something in place and ready to use. “Instal” used to be prevalent in the UK, while “Install” was preferred in the US. In the past decades, it seems “Install” has consolidated as the world’s favorite.