Saturday, October 18, 2014

What words kan't you spell?

Thank God for spellcheck. There are some words I just can’t spell. For whatever reason my brain refuses to learn the correct spelling of a few words – words that are fairly common and you dear readers have no problem with at all.

One is jeopardy. Even as I typed it just now the squiggly red line appeared underneath. I keep putting a’s where there should be o’s or o’s where there should be a’s. And again, it’s not an obscure word. I watch the TV show all the time. The word is displayed in giant letters.

Another is privilege. I don’t even come close on this word. At any given time I may write privlige, priviledge, priveledge, privlige, privelige. None of these look any more wrong that the actual spelling.

For a long time I wrestled with guarantee. Somehow I mastered it. And I’m afraid to list the ways I misspelled it for fear that that will confuse me again and I’ll be back at square one.

In the case of pigeon, I want to always write pidgeon. And don’t get me started on pidgin.

I’d like to think I’m not alone in this brain cramp. So let me ask you – what are words that you can’t spell?

Imagine losing the final round of the National Spelling Bee over jeopardy?

72 comments:

Richard Y said...

It is the I before e thing with ceiling. HA! and recipie and similar

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Richard Y: i before e except after c and "Neither leisured foreigner seized the weird height". And recipe has no 2nd i, so it doesn't arise. :)

I'm sorry to tell you that apparently I have a very good visual memory, so I've picked up good spelling from a lot of childhood reading. (Unfortunately for today's kids, that's harder now because they see a lot more misspellings than I ever did growing up). The only time I have trouble spelling *anything* is when people tell me it's difficult, and then it takes me a little while to get it right again because I keep looking for the ways it isn't easy and obvious (to me). This has happened with: gauge, harassment, and embarrassment.

The only word I really had wrong in my head was judgment. Seems like it ought to have an 'e' - and in some contexts it does. But when it's something issued by a court, no 'e'.

And then there's British spelling, which I had to learn to write for British magazines and newspapers...

wg

MikeK.Pa. said...

SpellCheck is a nice convenience for the spelling challenged, but I learned the hard way it's not infallible. I dropped the "l" in whe word public in an article I was writing and it passed SpellCheck. Fortunately it was caught by a proofreader (live person) before it made it to print.

Can't think of any words I misspell frequently (although I just typed misspell with one "s" and SpellCheck corrected it), but I have a devil of a time typing the word communications without mistyping it. Must be something with the wide range of keystrokes. Probably why I could never master the piano.

Stoney said...

Theater or theatre?

Largo161 said...

Judgment and privilege trip me up,too. But my weird thing was that I used to always want to make "every time" into a compound word--everytime.

Chester said...

"Jewellery" stumps me every time. I usually go through jewellry, jewelry, jewlry and jewllrey before I give up and let spellcheck correct it.

Either that, or I replace it entirely with "expensive trinkets".

David in Cincinnati said...

Re "i before e" - my father taught me the rest of the rule, which is, "...or pronounced like an 'a', as in 'neighbor' or 'weigh'." Not to make it any more complicated, or anything....

Markus said...

Such things are far more interesting from the perspective of a non-native speaker. Ever wondered what is right and what is wrong, only to find that both is correct, except one spelling is British English and the other is American English? On the other hand, there are plenty of cases that native speakers seem to get wrong all the time that a non-native speaker simply has learned and thus knows, such as ei/ie (weird wiener) or HindernBURG vs. VandenBERG etc.

Howard Hoffman said...

Congradulations. I mean congratulations.

Julian Brown said...

committee - all three are doubles, but i can't remember the mnemonic device, though i can remember how to spell mnemonic for some reason.

Julian Brown said...

yet commit has only 1 "t"...

Scooter Schechtman said...

"That man is ashamed to bee called a Philosopher, which readeth not the bookes of Philosophie, bitchez."

Tom Quigley said...

Whenever I spelled "pidgeon", Spellcheck always corrected it to "Walter"...

Jeremiah Avery said...

"Judgment" and for a long time "independent" (I'd sometimes write an "a" where the last "e" should be).

SBell in San Mateo said...

My spellcheck will not recognize the name Bea, as in Andy's aunt.
I can tolerate most misspellings, but I hate it when plurals are preceded by an apostrophe. (how's that for accurate spelling?)

Canda said...

Necessary and occasion.

Never remember which has the one "c" and which
has the two s's.

Then there's desert and dessert. Which is the hot, arid place (desert); which is the after-dinner treat (dessert).

Jack Leyhane said...

Not only would you lose for misspelling "jeopardy," you would lose points for not framing your answer in the form of a question....

404 said...

"Unnecessary" is the word that trips me up more than anything else.

Eric J said...

I touch type at 80-100 wpm. I always know when I unintentionally hit the wrong key. And I always know when I've misspelled a word. There are several words I know how to spell, but I almost never TYPE them correctly. Gauge, privilege, separate, accommodate, embarrass, and several mentioned by others.

Diana M. said...

I *did* lose a spelling bee on the word "jeopardy" once. I was in eighth grade, and it was the middle school spelling bee. I was in the final round, with all competitors vanquished but one, and the thing is that I *knew* how to spell it! but when I opened my mouth, I found myself stupidly saying "G." I didn't even bother finishing the word because I knew I was wrong. In the end, the boy who beat me went on to win the city spelling be, which I probably could not have done, so perhaps it was all for the best.

odJennings said...

License or lisence is always a problem, and criminal really should be spelled crimminal. Absolutely and absolutley also gets me every time.


I'm 50 years old and still don't know the difference between principle and principal (I know the Principal is my Pal, but beyond that it's a mystery. Useful in 2nd Grade, now not so much). Further and farther--well, no matter which one you use it sounds wrong, and the whole rat's nest of who, whose, who's is something I'll go to my grave not knowing.

Dan Ball said...

I've been threatened with excommunication from the Commonwealth of Kentucky for how well I spell. (It interferes with a stereotype that's a very valuable source of income, apparently.)

Dave Creek said...

A reporter I used to work with once asked me how to spell inoculation. I told him, S-H-O-T.

Debbie said...

Accommodate. Accomodate. Acommodate. They all look wrong.

tony libido said...

Rhythm. Which is a shame cause I LOVE the concept

Brent said...

I'm a pretty good speller but a dodgy typist. I always say my brain can spell but my fingers can't. I usually end up with stupid crap like "teh" or "adn" that have to be corrected, or I miss the shift key and get a lower case i instead of I, or hit the caps lock by accident and have to re-do several words. I have to look at the keys. Touch typing and I do not get along. I proofread every single thing I type at least twice, and probably three times. And I still miss stuff. I made 6 (now 7) corrections just typing this.

Dave said...

I taught myself to spell jeopardy properly by purposely mispronouncing it in my head as "GEO-PAR-DEE". After I started doing that it wasn't a problem anymore.

joel said...

I always learn these strange spellings by mispronouncing the words on purpose:

goowarantee

jee-opardy

Sure, people look at you confoozed with your pronunciations all awe-ree, but on the page you're a gen-eye-us

Roseann said...

Availiable….n. being free at a certain time, right?

Roseann said...

websight….n. Apparently my email spell check always makes it 2 words. I wonder which is right.

McGuffy's Reader (Reeder?) said...

Further = in addition to; Farther = distance. So Ford has come with the slogan, "Go further." Huh? Not spelling issues but since somebody else brought those words up, I'll go with it. Them. One reason I like coming to Ken's website is - don't sweat the spelling! We can talk about it but really, who cares? Spell however you want to spell!

Graeme Perrow said...

Separate (or is it seperate?) always trips me up.

PNW Corey said...

I never understood where "phoe" = "fee" as in Phoenix or where "tuc" = "too" and Tucson. They should sound out as "Pho-en-ix" & "Tuck-son".

Cap'n Bob said...

Like Brent, I can spell pretty well but my typing is spotty.

A local TV station was flogging its string of court shows as Judgement Day. Someone must have clued them in because after a few weeks it was changed to Judgment Day.

Random Australian Bloke said...

What a couple of people said up above (about mispronouncing troublesome words on purpose, in order to remember the spelling) is interesting, because I remember reading somewhere about a study done on "naturally" good spellers - the mispronunciation trick was one of the techniques was common to many of them, and there was some subsequent evidence that bad spellers could improve their spelling by using the same technique. Might be something for you to try, Ken!

januaryfire said...

Sahara desert has one "s" and strawbeery shortcake haa two.

Stephen said...

I'm generally a good speller, but the word "bureaucracy" has tripped me up many times. The worst part is "beauracracy" somehow doesn't bring up the correct spelling in many spell-checkers.

Phillip B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phillip B said...

Missed two of these four on the first try today:


Apparently - a simple word which winds up short a "p"

Restaurant - which I need to silently spell in my head every time

Entrepreneurship - right about one of ten times

Commissioner - comes up a lot when you write about baseball...

tb said...

Many good examples already posted. Silhouette. Renaissance. Tomorrow. Words with double letters are always the ones, like necessary, etc...

David F. said...

@Graeme
Regarding Separate
The r separates two a's.

RyderDA said...

Unfortunatly I never get snorkling right, or unfortunatly either.

Lexavline said...

Definitely and restaurant

D. McEwan said...

Actually, "Jeopardy" and "Privilege" are two of my most consistently misspelled words. (And the red squiggly line tells me I just misspelled "Misspelled.")

I had a strong resistance to learning spelling as a kid, since it's just memorization. It's not like you can learn principles that will always guide you, as in math. My fifth grade teacher, who was the first to produce plays I'd written, told me: "You will be a writer, Douglas, whatever else you are. You need to learn spelling." I used to say: "No, I need to learn to hire a Secretary who can spell." I had not foreseen Spellcheck.

(And Spellcheck tells me that I just misspelled "Secretary," another word on my "Words I Kan't Spell" list.

Lorimartian said...

restaurateur - someone who owns restaurants. Why isn't it restauranteur?

Tom said...

As a temporary resident I refuse outright to adapt to your spelling of manoeuvre. It's hard enough just trying to converse in Fahrenheit, inches, ounces and cups. Don't even get me started on the 12-hour clock.

Brian Drake said...

Words I struggle with:

Satellite
Surveillance
Personnel
Bureaucrat
the (always comes out hte)

I write spy books so some of these words I use a lot!

Anonymous said...

I have trouble with sarsaparilla.

Steve Mc said...

Manhattan

Mike said...

McGuffy, you need to read further.

Ford can use either word acceptably.
First definition of further is farther. You must use further if you are expressing something other than distance, such as degree.

Watching Finding Forrester would also work.

Now 'Think Different' is another matter.

Marianne said...

I always spell yogurt, "yougurt"

mmryan314 said...

The spelling police got me one time on this very blog. I laughed- more at him/her than at me. S it happens.

Jeffro said...

If yu lunrt to spel whith hookt on fonix leyk mee than yu wooldent need a spel chekker aneewhey.

Cheerio,
Jeffro

Cap'n Bob said...

My biggest bugaboo is people spelling cavalry as calvary. Another is Davey Crocket for Davy Crockett.

And, RyderDA, it's unfortunately. I think you meant to get it right the second time.

XJill said...

restuarant

Tom said...

Marianne: it's yoghurt, obviously.

Loosehead said...

I have the opposite problem to some posters here. I can look at a page of text, and the misspellings just leap out at me, as if they were in a different font or italicised. I read a lot of comic books before I started school, and had a reading age of 15 when I was 8.

Paul Duca said...

Canda..."Everybody wants two desserts"

Cap'n Bob--I think the station meant to say something like "Judge-Ment Day". That's a good tagline.

Pat Reeder said...

Generally, I am an excellent speller, but I can never remember whether there's an "e" in the middle of "judgment." It's a judgement call for me.

Also, I just spent a minute or so taking repeated stabs at typing "Belize." My fingers refuse to belieze there's not a third "e" in there somewhere.



(PS - Yes, Internet grammar Nazis, the "belieze" was deliberate.)

VP81955 said...

"Privilege" is my bete noire, and I was my school's spelling champ for four consecutive years.

As for "judgment," I can recall Gerald Ford always saying it "judg-uh-ment," so I'm guessing that during his days in Ann Arbor, he added that second "e."

Yah Shure said...

Derelict. My father worked for a company called Tel-E-Lect, and to this day, my brain refuses to accept anything other than "derelect."

Mt. Desert Island in Maine's Acadia National Park tends to throw me off at times. If they're going to pronounce it Mt. "Dessert" Island, the least they could do is have a Big Rock Candy Mountain. The desert deserted Mt. Desert Island.

Capitol vs. capital has never tripped me up, but whenever I run across online record sellers who list The Beatles or Beach Boys on "Capital" Records, the accuracy of their visual grading for record condition becomes suspect.

flipyrwhig said...

"Restaurant" is difficult, but the fact that it's "restaurateur" instead of "restauranteur" is just French. "Restaurant" means "restorative," and "restaurateur" means "one who restores."

D. McEwan said...

"Anonymous said...
I have trouble with sarsaparilla."


But is the problem spelling?

I have a problem with yogurt also. Not with spelling; I just can't stand the revolting mass of bacteria.

RCP said...

Some of the words I always have to look up in the dictionary (which I just did to make certain they're spelled correctly):

occurred
rhythm
vacuum
knowledgeable
accummulate
accommodate
connoisseur

Spelling is an easy fix; the real challenge is writing something worth reading.

Johnny Walker said...

My brain always gets the e and i backwards in receive. (I literally just did it as I typed.) I know, I know. "I before E except after C". Sigh. Stupid brain.

I'm glad that even Emmy winning writers have these sorts of problems, too!

H Johnson said...

reccomend

See.

Aloha

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

anonymous
availability
accountability
exacerbate
laissez-faire
unanimity

Anonymous said...

Hey Ken,

This is easy for me. The word is: convenience

Oh wait, i just spelled it right on first try! May be I'm getting better --LL

Ellen said...

Convenient

Patrick said...

I always struggle with the word "receive", no matter how much I concentrate on it I always flip the e and the i after c first time round.

Dave Olden said...

Both, but it *should* only be the first one (2nd always scans as 'theatray')

Catfish said...

Restaurant. I'm a fantastic speller, I pronounce everything backwards in my mind except for one: tnaruatser. Weird. I spell it restaraunt.