Tire or Tyres

I never know if I’m spelling it correctly.  Is it “Tire” or “tyre”?

I’ve always used Tyre, but just when I think that’s the correct spelling I end up commng accross some text where it’s spelt Tire.  So which is correct  -  Tyre or Tire.

Tyre

Is it Tyre or Tire

It seems to depend upon where you are in the world.
Americans seem to write “Tire,” while we British seem to prefer “tyre.” Does it matter?  Is one spelling more correct than the
other?

Etymologists (someone that studies the history of words or perhaps linguist)  suggest two possible origins of the word “tire” or “tyre.”  The first comes from the original function of the tire as the metal hoop or band of iron on a wooded spoked wheel that literally “tied” or bound the wheel together.  In this usage of tire, refers to wagon wheels, tire has consistently been spelled with an “i” on both sides of the Atlantic.

The second possible origin of the word and the one which seems to have gathered more support is from the word “attire,” from which the short first syllable has dropped over the ages. In this context, the word tire is the attire or literally dressing of the wheel.

Two of the most authoritative dictionaries of the English language, “Webster’s
Third New International” in the United States and “The Oxford English Dictionary”
in Britain, seem to agree with this derivation.

The Oxford dictionary, says tyre is a variant spelling of tire (implying that tire is the more etymologically correct spelling). Regarding the spelling, the dictionary’s entry under “Tire” says: “From 15th to 17th c. spelt tire and tyre indifferently. Before 1700 tyre became generally obsolete, and tire remained the regular form, as it still does in America; but in Great Britain tyre has been revived as the popular term for the rubber rim of bicycle, tricycle, carriage, or motor car wheels, and is sometimes used for the steel tires of locomotive wheels.”

The British, it would seem,  resurrected the archaic spelling −tyre− to distinguish
between the modern pneumatic tire, made of rubber, and its iron predecessor,
used on wagon wheels.

So, there we have it.  Depending on where you are and when you are Tire or Tyre is correct.

About Peter Bell

I am a self confessed Porsche-a-holic. An enthusiast from an early age I have spent many years reading about Porsche as well as building my own ultimate Porsche 911. Writing about Porsche has been a hoby since as long as I can remember. I have also created a number of websites for the Porsche enthusiast community.
This entry was posted in Wheels & Tyres and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.