Starred or Stared – Which Spelling Is Correct?

You have most likely heard the word “starred” before. What about the word “stared”? Do you know what the difference between them is? Furthermore, when should we use each one? This is a fairly common question, but don’t worry, in this article, you will find the solution to that doubt.

Starred or Stared – Which Spelling Is Correct?

“Starred” is the past tense of the verb star, which means that someone is the lead performer of a film, a theater play, or another similar show. On the other hand, “stared” is the past tense of the verb stare, which means to look steadily at something.

starred or stared

These two expressions come from two different verbs that have different meanings, thus, they cannot be used as synonyms. “Starred” is also not an interchangeable term for “stared” and vice versa.

In case of doubt, the context will help us realize which of the two expressions should be used.

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We will use “starred” when defining someone as the main character of a movie, a play, or a comparable show. Therefore, when using the term “starred”, we are indicating that someone was the show’s star, and this character is more relevant than others.

The Cambridge Dictionary adds other meanings to the term. It can be used as an adjective to indicate that something is marked with an asterisk (the symbol: *), which shows that there is an observation on that particular term. It can also be used to say that something is decorated with star-shaped objects.

Let’s see some examples of how to use “starred” in a sentence:

  1. After working in a few little-known plays, Emily starred in her first movie last year, which kick-started her career.
  2. Before being so well known, Robert had co-starred in an action movie with Gina.
  3. Over the past few years, he has starred in many sitcoms.
  4. We looked all over the town for starred restaurants, but all we could find were fast food places.
  5. Please take note of starred activities. These activities were designed for students who have already passed the introductory courses.
  6. No feature will ever be starred by Tom, as long as Richard is the company’s producer. He claims that Tom is a mediocre actor.


“Stared” is the past tense of the verb “stare”. We will use it to indicate that someone was looking at something or someone for a long period. Moreover, “stared” is a term used especially to indicate a persistent look in astonishment, wonder, concern, reflection, or contemplation.

“Stared” is different from “regarded”, “looked”, “saw”, and “glanced”. This difference is in the intensity that someone directs their attention to something. Furthermore, as it is a regular verb, it can be conjugated in all tenses.

When checking the Cambridge Dictionary, we confirmed exactly the definition highlighted above.

Let’s see some examples of how to use “stared” in a sentence:

  1. It was a little creepy. It made me uncomfortable that he stared at me throughout the class.
  2. He stared at the sky, shaking his head as if he couldn’t believe what had just happened.
  3. She stared at me, waiting for me to say the right words. I disappointed her again.
  4. It was so embarrassing! As soon as I entered the meeting, I tripped on a step and fell. Everyone turned and stared at me.
  5. All artists must get used to being stared at. No look can condition them.
  6. The screen showed how the stocks fell furiously. I stared in astonishment. I had predicted what was going to happen.

Which Is Used the Most?

When checking the usage levels of terms, there’s no better tool than the Google Ngram Viewer.

starred or stared usage

We checked it for “stared” and “starred” and found out that between the 1950s and the 1980s, both terms presented a low usage curve. But “stared” shows a positive trend from the 1990s which becomes steeper in 2005. Later, its use stabilizes.

On the other hand, “starred” has maintained its very low original values throughout 120 years.

Final Thoughts

“Starred” and “stared” are two different verbs. Therefore, they have different meanings. While “starred” refers to being the main character of a movie, a play, or a show, “stared” refers to a persistent look. For this reason, we should not use these terms as synonyms or interchange them seamlessly.