• THE
    Writing Prompt
    Boot Camp

    Subscribe to our FREE email newsletter and get the Writing Prompt Boot Camp download.

    Leaped or Leapt?

    Categories: Brian Klems' The Writer's Dig, What's New Tags: Brian Klems, online editor blog.

    Q: I’ve seen it written both ways: “leaped” and “leapt.” Which is correct? —Tony V.

    He leaped off the building. She leapt off the building. This may surprise you, but both “leapt” and “leaped” are acceptable past-tense and past-participial forms of the verb “leap.” It’s fine to use either one.

    According to Garner’s Modern American Usage, traditionalists prefer “leapt,” so if you want to keep the grammar curmudgeons happy, stick with that. But if you’re more of a nonconformist (and I’m TOTALLY a nonconformist), choose “leaped” so you can feel like a rule-breaker (even if you aren’t actually breaking any usage rules).

    The only common error sneaking its way into the works is “lept,” which is just a misspelling of “leapt.” Avoid that, and you’ll be fine.


    Follow me on Twitter: @BrianKlems

    Read my Dad blog: TheLifeOfDad.com
    Sign up for my free weekly eNewsletter: WD Newsletter

    You might also like:

    • Print Circulation Form

      Did you love this article? Subscribe Today & Save 58%

    5 Responses to Leaped or Leapt?

    1. Amyna says:

      Thank you for this as it is very confusing to find the right word, specially in cases like this!

    2. slumpysmith says:

      I think your explanation of the difference between ‘leap’ and ‘leapt’ is a little reductive. In a purely grammatical sense, ‘leaped’ is the correct simple past tense form of ‘leap’ (i.e. He leaped for the roof, hoping he would learn to fly before the ground caught him), while ‘leapt’, in its origins, is the past participle of ‘leap’ and is thus employed to describe pluperfect action (i.e. He had leapt from this precipice many times) as well as action taking place in an ablative absolute clause (All his friends having leapt from the cliff, he leaped likewise) and, of course, action described in the past participle form (i.e. Having leapt, he waited for gravity to do the rest). Knowing when to use one rather than the other is as simple as knowing when to use, say, ‘wrote’ instead of ‘written’, or similarly ‘sang’ instead of ‘sung’.

      The only reason that contemporary grammarians equate ‘leaped’ and ‘leapt’ is a because a mass confusion of the terms by modern writers; but while grammarians attempt to compensate for our general ignorance, Grammar itself is a science as rigid and dispassionate as any other, and so, however interchangeable they may indeed seem, there is, in fact, a decided difference between these two terms. For similar instances in English, confer ‘dreamed’ and ‘dreamt’.

    3. vickytnz says:

      I’m pretty sure that this is one of those US vs UK things, much like proper English is ‘learnt’ as opposed to the US ‘learned’.

    4. “Leapt” has become, I would suggest, not just traditional, but archaic.

    5. Chad Lynch says:

      This drove me crazy a few days ago. Checked multiple online dictionaries as well as the two large dead tree versions on my shelf. Couldn’t for the life of me find leapt even though I knew in my gut it was correct.

    Leave a Reply