How Do You Spell Your 4th of July Barbecue ... or BBQ ... or barbeque?

Posted by JeffMores on July 3, 2014


Ahh. It’s summer and, most importantly, it’s 4th of July weekend. That means fireworks, dipping your feet in the water, picnics and – my personal favorite – barbecue.

Or is it BBQ?

Or barbeque?

Or Bar-B-Q?

Or …

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Take a look at how the word appears on the three bottles of sauce in the photo above. Odds are, you're scratching your head.

Here at Mitchell Communications Group, part of our job is knowing AP Style. There are instances when our clients have their own stylebooks that trump the recommended guidelines but, in most instances, the AP Stylebook is the ultimate authority.

And AP Style says … drumroll please … barbecue.


So where do the other 1001 spellings come from? Well, the Grammarist offers this insight into the word’s origin: “The word has been spelled several ways since coming to English from the Spanish barbacoa in the 18th century. Its earlier origins are fuzzy, though the conventional wisdom is that the Spanish adapted it from a term used among Caribbean natives.”

The spellings barbecu, barbacue, barbicu and babracot have appeared through history. Today, there are several abbreviated forms, including bar-b-q and just BBQ. This link from TMBBQ has some interesting takes on the potential origins of the various spellings. And, while we’re at it, why not toss in a completely new spelling?

However you spell your barbecue, enjoy the holiday.