Last modified on 23 December 2012, at 22:04

Talk:gaol

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Is Jail obsolete?Edit

I don't remember hearing that jail would be obsolete. As far as I know, the original gaol spelling was simplified in US English as jail, a word which is an americanization and widely used in all English variants. - TopAce 13:39, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

No, jail is not obsolote. I think the meaning is that gaol is obsolote. I’m not British, so I don’t know if it’s obsolote or not. —Stephen 13:48, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Indeed, Stephen's right - it's not suggesting the word jail is not obsolete; it's suggesting the spelling of it as gaol is. Although I would disagree; it's certainly less common but not obsolete - and this is as a Briton! :-)


Gaol as a form of spelling is not obsolete in Australia. That is when they are calling things gaols as opposed to some euphamism. See for example [1]--AYArktos 09:46, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

I think it's only used of historical gaols, though. Contemporary jails aren't spelt that way. --Ptcamn 11:07, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

[[Interesting points. Particularly regarding when the "jail" form of "gaol" became acceptable. Interestingly enough Samuel Johnson (the father of the English dictionary) in the 1750s wrote a brief poem:

These ills the Scolars life entail,/Toil, Envy, Want, The Patron and the Jail.

Notice how "Jail" is spelt. I would be very interested in finding out form some astute etymologist when and how the variants came about.Gaol Gordon

More on Australian usage - the recent release of a prominent prisoner (Adler) who spent time in a number of institutions gives an opportunity to study how current Australian spelling works. A Sydney Morning Herald article discussing his release (14/10/2007) refers to "jail" but the institution as a prison (St Heliers minimum security prison ). Another article referred to it by name as a "Correctional Centre" although generically as "jail". Other institutions he served at were "Kirkconnell facility, near Bathurst"and "the higher security Bathurst Correctional Centre" , but generically these are still reported as prison or jail.[2]. Accordingly I am inclined to agree with Ptcamm that the use of the word gaol is restricted apparently to older or historical institutions but I don't know if there are any institutions named as being a "jail". --Golden Wattle 23:11, 31 October 2007 (UTC) (formerly known as AYArktos)

I've only ever seen gaol in Scrabble, this is never used in Contemporary British English, unless someone can provide recent cites (post 1990 for example). Mglovesfun (talk) 23:26, 1 March 2010 (UTC)

I've definitely seen gaol written thus. I'm British, and I don't read a lot of old literature, so how would I know gaol was an acceptable spelling unless I'd seen it somewhere? And I was born after 1990. It may not be especially common, especially in the press where it would run the risk of not being understood, but I was very surprise to see it categorised as obsolete. I always thought "jail" was an Americanism. --Jezzapandd 19:51, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

I found this (http://apps.bedfordshire.gov.uk/grd/) in almost a matter of seconds. "Gaol" is still used in English English (and I usually spell it that way since I remember seeing it spelt that way more often than not in books at school), even if the apparent Americanism "jail" is seen more often in popular media now that does not make "gaol" an obsolete spelling. Stephen MUFC 01:49, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

This spelling should be marked as "obsolete" or "dated", or at least a very strong description that it is heading that way. I'm from England, and I've very rarely seen it as "gaol" outside historical names or old publications. Newspapers today spell it "jail", including The Daily Telegraph, the most conservative of them all. "Jail" is not marked as an Americanism any more, and hasn't been for a long time. I dare say that anybody using the spelling "gaol" marks themselves out as either old or pedantic. It's not the norm. Emma May Smith (talk) 18:15, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

In Australia at least, it is sometimes claimed that newspapers use the "jail" spelling because it is slightly thinner in headlines and because "gaol" might be misprinted as "goal." This was always despite "gaol" being the orthodox spelling (taught in school). — Pingkudimmi 22:04, 23 December 2012 (UTC)