Do we have a standard spelling of derailleur? There are at least three main variations:

  1. derailleur without accents
  2. dérailleur with an accent
  3. derailer -- the Sheldon Brown variation (note the single 'l')

I noticed that the tag is standardized on variation #1 with #3 given as an alternate. Was there ever discussion about why we chose #1 to be standard?

  • 1
    It's like, tomato, tomato. Oh, er.....
    – PeteH
    Commented Feb 8, 2015 at 10:33

2 Answers 2


I made and synonyms for back in September, 2010 (I can see the tag synonym history).

I believe at the time my reasoning was simply based on which version of the tag occurred most frequently on the site. English language Stack Exchange sites don't support tags with accents, so "dérailleur" with the accent isn't possible. It's also easier to merge the less popular tag into the more popular tag than to do the opposite.

Outside of tags, I believe all three spellings (not derailler, though) are acceptable and there's no need to edit posts to change the spelling.

Personally, I buy Sheldon Brown's argument for "derailer" being the preferred spelling. The way it's pronounced in English is totally wrong for the French spelling. In my posts, I'll use "derailer", but when editing another post, I'll stick with the spelling that's in use.

  • Yeah, this post came about because I was using "derailler" and looked at it and said to myself -- "that can't be right." Seemed I had gotten Sheldon a'la Francais in my head.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Feb 8, 2015 at 21:35
  • 1
    interesting. In the UK one can definitely hear a difference between the spoken "derailleur" and how I assume on would say "derailler". There is a definite "derail-yer" going on. But I agree with your last sentence totally - vive la différence!
    – PeteH
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 10:17

I don't know if there was a discussion, but I think #1 to be standard is most reasonable -- its what's written most often in English, since most of us don't want to put in the effort for the accent e. If you go to say Shimano / SRAM's English pages, you don't see the accent. Same for books on bicycle repair like Park Tool blue book or the Bicycling guide to complete bicycle maintenance and repair and similar.

Also to quote the Wikipedia page on derailleur gears: "Derailleur is a French word, correctly spelled dérailleur,[1] derived from the derailment of a train from its tracks.[2] Its first recorded use was 1930.[1][3] At least one notable bicycle industry author has attempted to promote the anglicized spelling of derailer.[2][4] As of 2013, however, neither Merriam-Webster[3] nor the Oxford English Dictionary[1] has an entry for derailer. They do for derailleur.[1][3]"

  • The "notable bicycle industry author" is Sheldon. :-)
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Feb 8, 2015 at 4:43
  • Yeah.I think its a bit silly to have this debated when its an English language site and "derailleur" is the spelling that appears in English almost always.
    – Batman
    Commented Feb 8, 2015 at 4:45
  • 1
    I'm a Sheldon-devotee and find his argument for derailer to be compelling -- especially if you use the "this is an english language site" argument.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Feb 8, 2015 at 4:47
  • 1
    Nah. If we took all the non English words out, there would be nothing left! We'd be just grunting and pointing :-)
    – andy256
    Commented Feb 8, 2015 at 6:51

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