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Aug 15, 2005
This week's theme
Words that appear to be misspellings

This week's words

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Even though it can be caught by any run-of-the-mill spell-checker, "definately" is one of the most common misspellings around. Google shows millions of citations for it. It appears even in edited writing: in books and in newspaper and magazine articles.

If this trend continues, some day this spelling will tiptoe its way into dictionaries as "miniscule" did. The original word was "minuscule", from Latin minus (less). English language speakers erroneously believed the word came from the prefix mini- and began spelling it as miniscule. As this newer spelling grew in usage, it found a place in the dictionaries, first tagged as erroneous, and later simply as a variant spelling. The rising popularity of "definately" appears to be inspired by the sound rather than the meaning.

Purists might agonize over the "decay" of the English language, but the best way to handle language change is this: be conservative in what you send and generous in what you accept. In other words, be punctilious in your own grammar and spelling, but overlook others' solecisms.

In this week's AWAD, we feature five words that might trip us in another way. These are words that appear as misspellings even though they are genuine dictionary words.


(IN-vi-uhs) Pronunciation RealAudio

adjective: Pathless; untrodden; inaccessible.

From Latin invius, from in- (not) + via (road).

"If nothing can oppugn love
And virtue invious ways can prove,
What may he not confide to do
That brings both love and virtue too?"
Samuel Butler; Hudibras; 1662.


Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life. -Immanuel Kant, philosopher (1724-1804)

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