• 3-minute read
  • 29th June 2019

Word Choice: Tire vs. Tyre

English spelling is full of words that sound the same despite differing in spelling. However, there aren’t too many homophones that differ as much in meaning as ‘tire’ and ‘tyre’. So to help you avoid mixing up these terms in your writing, we’ve prepared this quick guide.

Tire (Grow Weary)

To ‘tire’ means to ‘grow weary’. We use it when someone is feeling tired:

I tire quickly when I’m exercising, so I take regular breaks.

She ran well, but she was clearly tiring in the home leg.

In the sentences above, we’re talking about feeling physically tired or sleepy.

We've all felt like this at times.
We’ve all felt like this at times.
(Photo: mathey/Pixabay)

The sense set out above is the most common use of ‘tire’, but this word can also mean ‘grow bored or impatient’. For example:

He listened for forty minutes, but he eventually tired of the speech.

In all cases, though, ‘tire’ is a verb that describes a feeling or state of being.

Tyre (Rubber Wheel Covering)

A ‘tyre’ is a rubber covering for a wheel, typically inflated with air:

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The new tyres gave the truck better grip in icy weather.

She sat on her tyre swing, watching a squirrel gather nuts.

This word is a noun, so it also differs from ‘tire’ in its grammatical role.

Tyre Swing
At least we’ll still have a use for them after we invent the hover car.

‘Tire’ in American English

Why have two spellings when you can have just one? That seems to be the belief in the USA, where people use ‘tire’ for both definitions above. In American English, then, we could write:

I tire of your constant talk of tires.

Confusing? Possibly. It would be unusual to use both words in a single sentence, though, so it isn’t likely to be a problem. And having one spelling for both terms makes it easy to avoid typos.

Summary: Tire or Tyre?

‘Tire’ and ‘tyre’ sound the same when spoken, but each term has its own meaning in British English. These are as follows:

  • Tire is a verb meaning ‘grow weary’.
  • A tyre is a wheel covering made of rubber.

Since each spelling has one main definition, it should be easy to avoid confusion. But don’t forget that American English uses the spelling ‘tire’ in both cases. And if you’d like someone to check the spelling in your written work, you can always send it to us for proofreading.

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