My Firefox spellchecker was complaining this morning that I spelled 'neighbor' in the American English style, not the British English style ('neighbour'). Same is true for color (colour), analyze (analyse), etc. I've checked in the edit->preferences->content->language tab, and en-us is selected. I also found this link here:


Suggesting that there's some kind of system panel I can use to ensure that I've got the right language, but I can't see where that is (I guess that's for an older Ubuntu that let people get to system settings).

So either the dictionary for Firefox for en-us is corrupted, just a copy of the British English dictionary, or somehow the setting isn't propagated properly. How can I get the American dictionary back?


5 Answers 5

  1. In a text field, open a context menu by pressing the right mousebutton.
  2. Select Check Spelling if needed
  3. In the Languages menu, select English / United States

Firefox spellchecker

If this did not work, (re-)install the hunspell-en-us package.

  • Thanks, that got it! Any way to keep all of these things in sync?
    – mmr
    Jun 23, 2011 at 18:24
  • 6
    Did you mean limiting the list size? I didn't like having all different kinds of English in my list, so I removed Australia, Canada and South Africa by removing the links pointing to it: sudo rm /usr/share/hunspell/{en_AU,en-AU,en_ZA,en_CA}.{dic,aff} You can navigate to /usr/share/hunspell to find other dictionaries. If you mess it up, just install the related hunspell-* package.
    – Lekensteyn
    Jun 23, 2011 at 19:09
  • 2
    I mean, how many different spelling dictionaries are there, and how can I make sure that they all point to the right place? It's clear that the firefox selection doesn't influence what's written in firefox. Or is this selection going to be reflected everywhere else, at least in theory?
    – mmr
    Jun 23, 2011 at 19:22
  • If you meant that selecting one of the multiple entries do not work, I don't know. I try to ignore that and select the other entry. Perhaps the bug is already filed.
    – Lekensteyn
    Jun 23, 2011 at 19:58
  • 1
    @lekensteyn, I think mmr is asking how to change the dictionary across many applications, so that all software (not just Firefox, but LibreOffice, too) use the same dictionary.
    – Amanda
    Jan 22, 2012 at 20:26

For Firefox, put "about:config" in the address bar and go there. Search for "spell", and find the variable "spellchecker.dictionary". If its value is something other than "en_US" (mine said "en_AU"), right click the entry and modify the value to "en_US".

  • This worked for me, and it seems to have persisted through a Firefox restart because "color" is not bringing up a suggestion for "colour".
    – Chad
    Mar 29, 2014 at 22:28
  • This worked for me in Ubuntu 18.04, Firefox 63. I don't have a 'Languages' option in my right-click context menu. Dec 2, 2018 at 14:05

I had ongoing problems with Firefox "jumping" from one dictionary to another. To fix it, I run this command after each Ubuntu install:

sudo rm /usr/share/hunspell/en_{GB,AU,ZA,CA}.*

Obviously, this can be edited for any dictionary.


There are multiple bugs in Ubuntu that are tracing back to Mozilla: Firefox is not following the system locale setting. Consider posting a sighting to https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=776028.


Firefox seems to randomly use any one of the installed dictionaries. Several English dictionaries get installed by default in Ubuntu. The solution is to remove all but the US English dictionary using apt-get.

From How can I change Firefox's default dictionary?, Insperatus posted this useful command.

sudo apt-get remove myspell-en-au myspell-en-gb myspell-en-za hunspell-en-ca && sudo apt-get install myspell-en-us


firefox spelling language before removal


firefox spelling language after removal

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