From Academic Kids

Missing image
A misspelling of purchased on a service station sign

Misspelling refers to spelling a word incorrectly. Misspelling is distinguished from other errors in writing, such as grammatical errors, incorrect capitalization or misuse of punctuation. A misspelled word can be a series of letters that represents no correctly spelt word at all (such as "liek" for "like") or a correct spelling of another word (such as writing "here" when one means "hear", or "now" when one means "know"). Misspellings of the latter type can easily make their way into printed material, because they cannot be caught by computerized spell-checkers.


Words for which people commonly write one for the other

are: plural of is (I am, he/she is, you are, we are, they are)
our: belonging to us

barley: the grain used to make beer (rhymes with "Harley")
barely: hardly (rhymes with "rarely")

breath: the noun (rhymes with "death")
breathe: the verb (rhymes with "seethe")

Missing image
Misspelling of Occasion (Occassion) and Confectionery (Confectionary) on a shop front

collage: something made from a variety of magazine cut-outs mounted on paper (rhymes, for some people, with "barrage")
college: university (rhymes with "knowledge")

corpse: dead body (rhymes with "warps")
corps: army or similar organization (rhymes with "four"); also the plural of "corp" when it's short for "corporation"

coup: act of overthrowing a government (rhymes with "too")
coupe: vehicle (rhymes with "group" in U.S. English, pronounced "koop-ay." Elsewhere, however, the word is in fact French, and has an accented 'e' - coupť)

everyday: routine, commonplace; often used instead of:
every day: daily, once per day

loose: opposite of tight (rhymes with "goose")
lose: opposite of win, gain or find (rhymes with "choose")

now: at the present time (rhymes with "how")
know: be familiar with the facts; be acquainted with; be aware (rhymes with "go")

of: belonging to or somehow connected with; associated with; forming a part of; a certain amount of (rhymes with "love")
off: opposite of on (rhymes with "cough")
've: This is the word "have" as part of a contraction. This sounds like "of" after some words like "could" and "might", but is actually a contraction for "have" (could have, might have). You write: should've, might've, would've, etc.

physics: the laws that govern objects moving in space; related to physical, physiology, physicist, physician (the first syllable sounds like "fizz")
psychic: having ESP; pertaining to the soul; related to psychology, psychiatrist, psyche, psycho, psychedelic, psychopath, psyched (psychic scars) (the first syllable sounds like "sigh")

quite: rather, to an impressive degree (rhymes with "night")
quiet: not very loud (rhymes with "riot")

through: from one end to the other; finished (rhymes with "too")
thorough: complete, exhaustive (rhymes with "burro")

were: past tense of the verb to be (I was, you were) (rhymes with "fur")
where: at what place? (rhymes with "share")
wear: have clothes on; break something down eventually through use (wear out, wear thin, wear and tear) (rhymes with "share")

which: what one; that (He kicked against my leg, which bothered me) -- a question word like what, when, where or why, it should begin with WH (homophonous with "witch" in some dialects, but in others it begins with a /hw/ sound, as do "whale", "where", "white", "wheat" and "Juan")
witch: a female sorcerer (always pronounced with a simple /w/ sound at the beginning)

List of notable misspellings, including some that stuck

  • Zenith - Arabic zamt was misspelled by scribes.
  • Camel-and-needle-eye proverb - Translators from Hebrew into Greek may have confused kamÍlos (cable) with kamilos (camel).[1] (
  • Cocoa - from cacao (misspelling also influenced by coco). Many foreign languages and foreigners speaking English still use "cacao".
  • Hoodlum - first appeared as a pseudonym in a newspaper article, whose editor had misread "Noodlum" (the author's reversal of this wrongdoer's real surname, Muldoon).
  • Google - intentional misspelling of googol.
  • Potatoe - misspelling of "potato" mistakenly prepared for a classroom spelling bee hosted by Dan Quayle.
  • Odelay - Beck dictated the title he had chosen to the person writing down the name of his next album, originally to be titled Órale (Spanish for "come on").

See also

External links

  • Spelling Center ( - Listing of the most frequently misspelled words as reported by users.
  • Spelling Therapy ( - an attempt to diagnose common symptoms of frequently misspelled words



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