Thursday, February 21, 2008

Words I Mispell

Words I MisspellThere have been times when I've made it sound as if I had a terrific memory and I mentioned a while ago that I'd memorized a few things but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm a great speller. I've been speaking English for over 35 years now and apparently there are still a few words that just haven't sunk in yet. I need some more time and then I'll finally get the hang of things.

And as a side note: someone told me that they don't have spelling issues in Finnish because the language is entirely phonetic. I'd believe it--I mean I've never mispelled "Nokia" so it must be true. The Finns are onto something.

So before I forget--here are 13 words I ALWAYS mispell. I mean misspell.

1. Diarhea. Don't think I'm being gross, there's actually a real explanation here. Years ago I used to work at the National Archives back in D.C. on this project called the Economics of Aging where the health, military and medical records of all the Union Civil War veterans were catalogued and compared. You wouldn't believe how many times I've typed the words "dysentery," "piles," "ague," "rheumatism" and "diarrhea" in my life. You'd think after the 24,678th time I would have got it down properly but I still have to think about it. And I'd rather not.

2. Ghandi. Just because the man was one of the greatest world leaders ever doesn't mean that I can spell his name. I picture it, I think about it, I mentally pronounce it and I still come up short. Ha! Short! That would describe it. Besides isn't it actually written in Hindi or some other dialect that doesn't use the English alphabet so it's really quite subjective anyway--kind of like the Gadafi/Qadafi thing? Or am I just making excuses here?

3. Rythm. Something about the way this word looks throws me off. The H next to the Y next to the T just messes me up and I have to think hard to spell this one correctly. Darn Greeks.

4. Vaccuum. Somewhere along the line I got convinced that there were two Cs next to two Us and it's been downhill since then. I've been told nature abhors a vacuum and I've always known why--you can't spell it properly.

5. Developement. And judgement. It's the Es, every time. Why on earth should I have to drop the Es just because it's got some kind of ending on it? I've messed this one up so many times that I can't remember which way is correct and I go back and forth, second guessing myself and trying to remember which way it was that I told myself was the wrong way the last time.

6. Athelete. This one just looks like it screams for an extra E. It seems to me---in my warped and twisted mind--that this word is like "colonel" where you don't hear that extra syllable. Only there is no extra syllable. Just one in my mind. Hmmmm . . . odd.

7. Embarass. Oh the irony of the word. As in I should be! You see, about the time I started blogging I kept getting this annoying red line appearing under the word embarass or embarassment and I thought, "Dumb program--doesn't know a perfectly good word when it sees one." It finally occurred to me to stop and look it up and lo and behold I discovered that they've recently modernized the spelling or something because now it has 2 Rs! Imagine that! Why go and change a perfectly good word to one with more letters? So much for orthographic economy. But I've had a hard time breaking old habits and I still forget occasionally and spell it in the outdated way, the way it--ahem--used to be spelled.

8. Acommodate. See? Another case of orthographic economy--why waste an extra C when one will do perfectly well? Look at legitimate, respectable words like recommend. One c. My motto: if you can't hear it I don't have to spell it. Of course I suppose that breaks up my logic with the whole "athelete" issue.

9. Catalogue/dialogue. I don't know that this one counts. Maybe I've spent too much time with Jane Austen and other outdated Brits but I tend to spell things the old-fashioned--or British--way. Not that the two are equivalent. Towards rather than toward, honour rather than honor, etc. I suppose it's the written equivalent of faking a sophisticated accent. Indeed!

10. Foilage. Now this one totally isn't my fault. Really! I come from a family that has their own cannon of mispronounced words (find a few of them here) and I grew up hearing this one mangled so frequently that what do I do when it comes times to write it? I write it as I hear it. At least I've been able to straighten out the whole salivate/salivatate issue--with help from my therapist.

11. Sergant. And leiutenant. What is it with the French military words? Are they trying to systematically infiltrate and destroy my spelling? Seargeant is one where I have to stop, think hard, and say it the way it's spelled, not the way it's pronounced just to get through it. I think "ser-GEE-ANT" when I come to this one. Kind of like camouflage. I had that as a spelling word back in fifth grade and ever since then I mentally pronounce it "cam-ow-FLAY-GEE" just to keep it straight (though I try to avoid saying it that way out loud--you get stares. And they're not in admiration). Thanks Frenchies, thanks a lot.

12. Wierd. Can't get it right, nope, miss it every time. Thank goodness for spell check. It's probably all those times "i before e except after c or when sounding as a as in 'neighbor' and 'weigh" was drilled into me as a kid. Where's your rule now, huh? Where's i before e now I ask? I vote to change this little ditty to say, "i before e except after c or when sounding as a as in 'neighbor' and 'weigh' and maybe like 'ear' because that seems to be another exception no one talks about."

13. Massachuttes. Does it really matter how this is spelled I ask? I mean, the word is pretty unique, it's not like you're going to wonder, "Now does she mean that there southern state with all the alligators or the New England one with all them Kennedys? They're so darn close in spelling I can't tell!" and I figure as long as I hit the general area the spelling doesn't have to be perfect. It's got like, what, ten, fifteen letters? If I only miss one or two that's still a good, solid 90% correct and qualifies as an A, right?

photo via the Associated Press

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82 comments:

Kelli said...

Gaurentee - or is it gaurantee.

Nope. It's guarantee.

Sigh.

Corrie said...

I know how to spell because, but it always wants to come out becuase.

lori said...

I'm bad about the word entrepenuer!

HA, HA:) ENTREPRENEUR:)

Heffalump said...

Now see...I try to remember weird being spelled the way it is because its weird that it doesn't follow the rules.

chickadee said...

i'm with you on all of those. thank goodness for spell check.

Laura said...

okay, that was funny. I'm with you on most of those same words. Sadly, some of them I had to look up because your spelling looked right to me.

illahee said...

ok, so that's why embarrass is wrong. i thought it was right, but then it was wrong. cool.

words i used to spell wrong: dilate (dialate) and definitely (yep, i used to put an a in there.)

of course, i'm one of those lazy people who rarely uses the shift key to capitalize words, so i guess it doesn't really matter if i spell correctly or not....

thea said...

hey #9 is wrong?
hmmm...

tricia said...

i'm totally with you on those british spellings. when i was in a spelling bee in 4th grade the guy before me got the word "gray" and i was so excited because he was going to get knocked out! nope. he got it right and i was put in my place that "grey" is not the "american" spelling. grrrr! still gets me.

ewe are here said...

My big spelling 'issue' these days is American vs English spelling...

I like to tell my husband that while they may have 'invented' the language, we 'fixed' it by eliminating all those unnecessary letters, especially the 'u's. And the 's' for 'z' exchange.

And don't even get me started on how I grew up thinking a word should be pronounced... they often accent things very differently here.

gretchen from lifenut said...

I never remember if my sister's daughter is my neice or niece.

SudsMuffin said...

"Soup" always comes out "soap", but I think that one is a matter of finger memory more than anything. :)

The Source said...

Mine are "necessary" and "receive". They just don't look right no matter how you spell them. And why does "believe" have the "i" first but not "receive"?

luvmy4sons said...

Too hilarious. I do the same with judgment...don't know why...I have always been a good speller but dropping the e on that one throws me! I have two dyslexic sons who could spell their way out of a paper bag!

Lilibeth said...

You are right. Sometimes the common words just don't look right when they are spelled correctly. I remember "weird" because it breaks the rule. (It's weird like that; I don't even attempt diarrhea. (It took me three times with the spell checker's rap on my knuckles to get it right in this comment) If I'm going to write the word, I just substitute "upset stomach".(stomach is another weird word, come to think of it)

Gray Matters said...

My mom was a stickler for spelling - at an early age I was correcting people for seperate (separate) and definately (definitely). It seems people still struggle with those two words at times. Great post.

Edi said...

those are some of my hardest words too! If possible I use an alternate word to avoid having to spell something I know I'll get wrong! Though w/spell checks and online dictionaries I shouldn't fear...

There are a couple of words I'm uncertain about b/c I grew up in Canada spelling it one way like grey/gray - and I forget which is the American spelling which is the Canadian spelling.

Jacki said...

LOL...I think I mispell all those words and more! Like definitely. And I use that word all the time, so you would think I would know how to spell it. ;-)

It's okay about the email!! I got a good laugh out of it, wondering what you were talking about.

Antique Mommy said...

Commitment - always had trouble spelling it. Always had trouble with it.

Darla said...

I won two spelling bees in elementary school (and placed second in a third), but I still have to look up vacuum and embarrass. Did "embarrass" really used to have just one "r"? Because it looks very wrong to me with two.

And I ignore my spell check when it tells me to spell "dialogue" without the "ue" on the end. That's just wrong. :)

Beck said...

"Diarrhea" IS the hardest word in the world to spell, pretty much.
I spell TONS of words wrong - I actually have terrible, terrible speliing.

Becca said...

Great one! It was years (and I mean post-college) before I could spell license and gorgeous and recommend. Some words I'm still not sure about: embarrass, vacuum and so forth (I wait for the little red spell check line to tell me I better think about my word again...)

jubilee said...

I always have to look up "occasion." I want to put an extra s in it. Also I spell theater as theatre when talking about going to see a play, but theater when going to see a movie. Maybe it's the drama minor in me coming out.

Janet said...

I have always been good at spelling. As a result I have always had fascinating and exciting jobs at which I made tons of money and . . . uh, wait. Yeah, spelling is overrated.

K T Cat said...

I stop by, I smile. Happens every time.

Thanks for blogging, Scribbit.

WomensDaily said...

Right there are a bunch of words you look at for 5 minutes to wonder if they're spelled right, only to have to ask someone else if it's spelled right and they have no idea either.

Sea Star said...

I am really bad about spelling. I keep a dictionary handy all the time and still I misspell things. Sometimes I can't even find the word in the dictionary because of course I am not spelling it correctly in my head.

Maddy said...

Good grief! Out-dated Brits! To whom could you possibly be referring!

And just for future reference that would be Diarrhoea = blame the Greeks not the Brits!

Cheers

Heather said...

surprize/surprise gets me for some reason, and I was even an English major! Fun post, I'm so glad to have found your blog.

Beth said...

I have a hard time with "surprise". I guess it's because I'm Southern and pronounce it like suh-prise so I am bad about leaving the "r" out.

I guess it should be no suRprise that I'm pretty annoyed that the spell checker on Blogger has been down for over 3 weeks now. I need my spell checker!!!

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I am so glad you mentioned "embarass" because I have very distinct memories of learning that spelling word in 6th grade (probably because my mom used a ditty with a swear word to help me remeber it) and there only being one r. I thought I must be going a bit senile.

I mispell a lot of these. My other nemeses are restaraunt and broccollii (one of those three letters is supposed to be doubled).

Babystepper said...

I have trouble with quite a few of those too. I never noticed how hard it was to spell diarrhea until I had kids. I still can't spell it, and like you, I'm not usually someone given to word problems. In fact, I had to spell it three different times in this comment to get it right. Spell check didn't even recognize it!

Jill - GlossyVeneer said...

Embarrass gets me a lot too!

I don't think the dialogue/catalogue ones count though. It's just picking up another culture. I often use the spelling "theatre" instead of "theater" because I grew up in a town that had a lot of Shakespearean culture and that's how they used the word.

Heather said...

I found this extremely funny. And I discovered that I have many of the same issues. Being a journalism major in college made me obsessive about spelling, but it's been many years now so it's starting to wear off.

The Secret Life of Kat said...

Looks like you spelled them just fine to me!

:-)

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

That settles it. after number 1, I am never going to play scrabble with you period.

Jolene said...

I am with "gray matters" - my two words are separate and definitely. They always want to come out seperate and definately for some reason.

Here is a fun game about some of the most commonly misspelled words:
http://www.purposegames.com/game/c6e8792b

We love this web site - when my kids have geography quizzes or they just want to play a game on the computer - I hook them up there!

Lara said...

My biggest issue is with necessary. I can never remember if it's neccesary or necessary. :)

Also, when typing, pattern ALWAYS comes out patteren.

Deb - Mom of 3 Girls said...

Oh yes, I'm horrible with some of those too... Thank goodness for spell check! :)

Jordan (MamaBlogga) said...

Subpoenaed. Got that one memorized. Not that I've ever been subpoenaed, but I really love Law & Order.

IMHO, catalogue and dialogue aren't wrong. Especially not dialogue, which I think dropped the 'ue' mostly on analogy with analog (which can also be spelled with the 'ue'). Drives me crazy when my spell check red flags "dialogue."

Kelly Malloy said...

So glad to know that I'm not the only guilty one! I always have issues with sincerly or is it sincerely? LOL!

Carinne said...

I have trouble remembering desert and dessert - which do I eat? Then I try to apolijize and I can't remember how. Then it makes me nauseous.

Teachin' this mommy new tricks! said...

I always have to double check couch and coach. But one that I can never get right is...arronds? errounds, arons? You know...when you run around town getting things you need done...airons

Amy said...

Ironically, because you misspelled them, you will get tons more traffic. I am serious! Ryan mispelled recipes and spelled it recipies on all of our pages for recipes. We still get people searching for recipies and who end up finding our site. So if you really think about it...you are smarter than everyone else. :)

thea said...

oh by the way, are you into SMS?
sending those abbreviated text messages really had a big impact of misspelling words in writing. (in some forums in our country, it is now prohibited. coz it has a big impact on our teens' vocabulary)

Tammy said...

Here are mine:
Definitely
Excellent
Business
Orange
Weird
Counseling--I always want to stick an extra "l" in there

Chris said...

I thought the first 2 were right, so I guess I'm with you. In Canada, we spell a lot of things differently. labour, harbour, travelling, oh yeah and yogourt (as I write the red line is everywhere). I really hate spell check at times because I know I'm RIGHT but it doesn't believe me.

imadramamama said...

Oh my gosh, VACUUM, VACCUM, VACCUUM, VACCUUMM!

I hate that stupid word.

L the D said...

Lisence is mine. I ALWAYS transpose the s and the c until the little red line comes underneath and I realize that once again, I'm a retard at spelling.

Oh, and defence. I worked in England for several years and had to drive past several Ministry of Defence buildings, so it kind of stuck.

lisaC said...

alotI am with you on vacuum...and acknowledge! That word drives me crazy!

Randy and Ally said...

I love how people always assume English majors know how to spell correctly. Do they think we don't use spell check as the same crutch everyone else does? :o)

pussreboots said...

Funny list but when you take into account British spellings, things get extra complicated. :)

page2 said...

vacuum: Somehow I got convinced there were two C's in that word also. I had to go look it up just to be sure. I'll try remember how to spell it right from now on.

Marie N. said...

The dictionary is my friend. I learned this in high school when I discovered I had an easier time spelling things in French class than I did in any of my classes held in English.

Your photo made me laugh out loud and reminded me on the Snickers candy bar ad in which a man finishes chalking the end zone design for the Kansas City Chiefs, only to discover he's omitted the i.

Amber M. said...

SO GLAD that I'm not the only one whose brain freezes up and whose eyes cross when they try to spell rhythm or rhyme. YIKES!

Kelly @ Love Well said...

That r-word with the y and the h -- it gets me every time.

And since comments don't have spell check, I'm not even gonna try to type it here.

Robyn said...

This is funny because I'm a copy editor and I have trouble with all of these same words!

Irene said...

Yeah, there are some words that I swear I will NEVER remember how to spell. Diarrhea is definitely one of them.

An Ordinary Mom said...

Spell check has made me lazy when it comes to spelling. Although, at least I recognized you spelled the words wrong :) !!

Rosie said...

Yep I get so many wrong too and I've done editing work!!

Then just when I start to get the hang of things I read lots of American blogs who spell things differently like color, and put ize at the end of words instead of ise!

Love the 'shcool' photo by the way!

Pennies In My Pocket said...

Ohhhhh I so can relate to this post...these are the words I spell wrong everytime...
gaurantee (I cheated and saw it on kelli's comment, but I spell it wrong all the time)
restaurant - I think I've got it
convenience - I hate this word

Then I have this iPhone that auto corrects words, but half the time they are the RIGHT words. For example, I kept writing 'Leah' (my friend's name) and it kept correcting it as leaf. I wouldn't notice until I hit send. I hate that. My friend thinks I'm calling her leaf. Nice. OK, that was a random thought, but I just don't need someone or something making my spelling even worse, ya know?

lol
~melody~

Childlife said...

A very entertaining list! I love the way you so easily laugh at yourself... and BTW, I'm equally guilty of #9 : )

Miriam said...

Like you, I usually don't have a problem with spelling...but many of these get me too. Especially now that I have mommy-brain!

Mary@notbefore7 said...

I am the world's worst speller and spell check is not working on blogger - KILLING ME!

It took me till #4 to realize you were spelling them wrong in the bold. HAHAHA. I suspected it at number 3, but knew it by number 4 :)

sigh...for me, it is "definately" instead of "definitely"...gets me all of he time.

Mocha with Linda said...

Love the post. I'm a word geek and have always loved to spell, play Scrabble, you name it.

In fact, when I started reading your list, I thought "Oh no, she STILL spelled them wrong here - and then duh, I realized you did it on purpose!!

A word that drives me nuts when I read it because it always looks wrong is restaurateur. Explain why the owner of a restaurant drops the n before adding -eur!!

For carinne who can't remember dessert and desert, dessert is the one you eat because you always want more than one, so put in 2 esses. (And how many knew that the proper spelling of the letter "s" is actually "ess"?! LOL)

And yeah, I do misspell words myself sometimes. And it makes me crazy.

Cordia Amant said...

I like to pretend I'm a great speller, but my spelling went south after I learned Spanish and French. Only problem is I'm an editor by trade, and I'm the one who's supposed to know how everything is spelled. Hooray for spellcheck!

kailani said...

I have a hard time with glamour and glamorous. Why isn't there a "u" after the first "o"? I have to sing Fergie's song in my head in order to spell it right. hee hee

April said...

The WORST is when you spell something RIGHT but it just doesn't look RIGHT. That drives me NUTS!

Thank goodness for spellcheck!

angie said...

Most are totally on my list, too. I remember in 10th grade taking some standardized test and vacuum was on it. I spelled it right but one of the "brainiacs" spelled it wrong and tried to convince me it had two cc's! Since then I always have to think about it.

Pieces said...

So interesting. I always get judgement wrong but never development. Weird. I'll have to try to think of development when I am writing judgment, judgment, judgment.

truevyne said...

Looking at your list, I honestly am shaken to the core of my own spelling prowess.

Sarah said...

"exercise" and "practice"

Don't know why...those words screw me up every time, and I consider myself a pretty darn good speller!

Linda said...

Gandhi gets me every single time.

dawn224 said...

#12 - there was some strange movie with Crispin Glover in it where he commented he can always spell "weird" b/c "WE were WEird."

no clue the movie, but I still remember that.

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

I do most of those as well, and


License

Can never spell that one right.

my4kids said...

I had to laugh at your comments. I agree with some of your things. Weird is a hard one and I just had to fix it right now! Is it right?
I have to remind myself how to spell friend by saying it Fry-ends in my head. I have a lot more like that but we won't go there....

Lisa writes... said...

I think I read somewhere that judgment is the most misspelled word in the US? Isn't it "judgement" in Great Britain? Or is it Great Britian?

Leslie said...

I say "Ditto!" to this whole list. Your mispelled words are my mispelled words.

elena jane said...

lol. i spell much better with spell check built into firefox :)
but i'm a bit anal about my own spelling.....other people, not so much ;)

AlaneM said...

Oh thank you, I'm normal. It took me about 30 years to figure out that maybe is not spelled mabie!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I want to know: Why is refrigerator spelled without a "d" but fridge has a "d"?

ariel said...

Amusingly enough (or is it ironic?) you spelled sergeant wrong twice :)

I always get diarrhea wrong too (I want to put the h first, as in diahrrea, or maybe even put in an o like diahrroea -- yep. I have no clue why I feel the need to do this).