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Can you Speel It?

Courtesy, as pretty much always, of Bryan A. Garner, here’s a list of 25 of the most commonly misspelled words…

Courtesy, as pretty much always, of Bryan A. Garner, here’s a list of 25 of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language.

  • accommodate
  • committee
  • consensus
  • definitely
  • embarrass
  • expedite
  • grammar
  • harass
  • hors d’oeuvre
  • innovate
  • inoculate
  • lieu
  • millennium
  • minuscule
  • misspelling
  • noticeable
  • occurrence
  • pavilion
  • persevere
  • playwright
  • receive
  • restaurateur
  • separate
  • supersede
  • ukulele

Commit these to memory, and should you ever find yourself needing to accommodate a ukulele player who wishes to receive an inoculation from a playwright while persevering at his art in a pavilion, you’ll be spared the embarrassment of making any innovative misspellings, whether minuscule or easily noticeable.

64 Comments

  1. Thank you for this post & the comments.
    In my earlier manifestation of this lifetime, I was an English teacher and a professional journalist.
    That plus, the seemingly endless spelling & grammar drills by my mother (for which I am now grateful) probably set me up for what I am about to say…

    Anyway, I am bugged by the frequent misspellings on professional & non-professional websites, and in blogs, etc. I don’t want to notice them, but they jump off the screen at me!

    I know I sound critical, but why don’t people use the various forms of spell check or the WordPress editor or pay attention to the signals given by the automatic programs? (To test this out here, I just tried to misspell a word, and the automatic spell check underlined it in red! How can you miss that?)
    Nobody can be a perfect speller in all languages all the time. But, can’t we all use the programs that are already built in, like here in WordPress?

    I appreciate the fact that one commentator above got spell-checked into using the wrong word in a work situation. So, obviously spell check isn’t perfect, probably because it is programmed by human beings. Plus, as also mentioned above, the English language is a challenge to anyone, native speaker or ESL! So, even with my good spelling skills, I keep a Webster’s handy in a desk drawer when I want to double-check or want to use a word that spell check never heard of.

    Bad spelling to a friend in a personal email–that’s your business.
    Bad spelling in a public forum on the internet–that becomes everybody’s business. And, for some of us/me, it becomes an obstacle to my being able to truly appreciate your message.

    I know I took this comment way beyond the scope of the original post, however after reading the post with its delightful humor & the comments, I felt this might be an appropriate time to speak my peace and piece (of mind)!! ;-)

    1. I agree, especially with “it becomes an obstacle to my being able to truly appreciate your message”; I’d add, ‘even to completely understand it’. The good reason for taking this seriously is the whole point of writing is to communicate; if you do not, or you mis-communicate, there’s no point in writing. So, although with similar ‘drilling’ I can spell pretty well, I too have a dictionary on my desk but, being in the UK, it’s the Oxford English not Webster’s.

      1. Yes, I like your addendum: “… to completely understand it.”
        And, yes, the point is “… to communicate….” I’d like to add that the meaning of COMMUNICATE implies a two-way exchange, so both parties need to be able to understand or trying to understand the other.

        All that is facilitated by commonly understood & used rules of spelling, punctuation, sentence structure and so on. If we didn’t need all that to communicate our deeper thoughts and feelings we would still be saying da-da and pointing to the ball when that’s what we want.

        All of us who blog want to communicate with someone(s) out there, otherwise we would be journaling in solitude at home or on our hikes or on breaks at work or school. Instead we open our laptops and start our fingers going with an assumption that the words and rules we use will enable others to “get” us. And, a dialogue will have begun.

        So, obviously I concur with you, grumpytyke! (BTW, WordPress spell check doesn’t like your moniker!!)

        I started to wander off into the advantages of non-verbal communication within the structure of the understandings of a common culture, blah-blah-blah. Then, I realized that could open too many pandora or other boxes that might be fun to explore IF there were time to roam. However, a small paying writing job beckons….

        My friend, grumpytyke, let’s continue this dialogue. I feel a kindred spirit in you, as opposed to those who consider folks like me to be fuddy-duddies. Finally somebody who understands…!!

      2. I’m almost speechless. There is someone out there – Linda Louise – who understands that communication only takes place if the receiver understands the same thing from the message as the sender. I’ve spent much of a lifetime trying to explain that.
        As for grumpytyke: tyke has several meanings, not all complimentary, but here it refers to the meaning in Yorkshire – a Yorkshireman; we grumpy old men are peevish about ‘little’ things like correct spelling!

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  3. Reblogged this on Grumpytyke and commented:
    Another ‘words’ post which has stimulated a lot of interesting discussion. For me, the red underline automatic spell checkers are great for picking up typing errors (especially for me in emails where I tend to type very fast and not check). I hope I’m more careful on blog posts.

    1. Ah, yes, typing errors. I’d like to think that many of the “misspellings” we see are typos. And, because all of us probably suffer from speeding minds. And, then our fingers, while dealing with the limitations of the mechanics of movement, are doing their best to keep up. But, alas, we can trip over ourselves on the keyboard. And, thank heavens for the red lines to alert us to this.
      As I said earlier, maybe it’s not a big deal in a quick private email to a friend, who understands you. However, in my case, I always proofread. And, I find it totally impossible to ignore misspellings and grammatical errors, because my mother trained me so well and her voice is still in there! (Egad, and I just turned 69!!!) I almost wish I could do that! :-)

  4. Those are the most commonly misspelled words? Really? I am almost incredulous…. Also, I was home-educated and don’t have problems with these… Actually, the one I have the hardest time with is “ettiquette”! And I am studying French, so that one should be easy! :D

  5. Thanks for the list. I seem to remember spelling tests from school with some of the same words on it. I’ll use this list in my intermediate EFL classes. Hell we could all use some work on our spelling. :)

    1. Saw from your gravatar that you run a mobile bookshop (and teach English) in Normandy. Great! I have many fond memories from when I had the port of Rouen as a client (1970s). Do they still eat as much, as often? I never needed an hors d’oeuvre – as you say, an appetizer. As I’m sure you know, it’s quite difficult for us to spell this correctly as the o and e should be joined, a ligature. It always seemed silly to me to treat this as English and add an ‘s’ to make the plural. My French has long gone but I’m really enjoying some ‘lessons’ by attempting to understand the French text on a lovely blog which always has an English translation: http://myfrenchheaven.com/

  6. My worst are grammar, receive, and separate – probably some of the simpler ones. At the moment I’m using free writing software with a pretty terrible spellchecker. That doesn’t help.

  7. I’d be pleased to have any more than 3 of these words in my vocabulary – spelling them correctly would only be a bonus.

  8. Ha! Guilty, on more than on occasion of misspelling most of these :) Did I get it right?! :)

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