Greg: Is that so?
Meg: Yes, b-e-e-s!
Two words that are easily confused are principle and principal. The following sentence may be of some help: The school principal is our pal. You will notice that ‘pal’ is on the end of the word ‘principal’ but not on the end of the word ‘principle.’ Now let us go ask the school principal if this is true, or if principals serve mainly to maintain order and to act as disciplinarians.
Difficult words can be ‘sounded out’ to help us pronounce and spell them correctly. To sound out a word, clearly say each syllable separately, distinctly, and with emphasis. For example, to sound out the word responsibility, break it down into its syllables, as re-spons-i-bil-i-ty. When we clearly sound out words, we avoid skipping letters and syllables, and doing so can also help us avoid stammering. Often after sounding out a new word a few times, we find that it becomes lastingly embedded in our memory, making it more familiar and easier to use.
My spelling is Wobbly.
It’s good spelling but it Wobbles,
and the letters get in the wrong places.
-A. A. Milne (Alan Alexander Milne (1882 - 1956)): “Winnie-the-Pooh” (1926)
Only four words in the English language end in ‘dous,’ and they are tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous. They really are.
Jason: What common eleven-letter word is often spelled incorrectly?
The longest English word consisting entirely of consonants (not counting ‘y’ as a vowel) is the word ‘crwth,’ which is from the fourteenth century and means ‘crowd.’ Wait, why do we even have that fact in here, because nobody has used that word for roughly 600 long years!
Teacher: At 28 letters in length, ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’ is the sixth longest word in the English language. How do you spell it?
Student: It is spelled i-t.
Spelling bees are competitions in which participants try to spell words correctly. Spelling bees can be done with little planning, as in a classroom directed by a teacher, or with great planning and fanfare, as in a spelling bee with participants from all across a country or all around the world. To stay in the competition, a participant is given a word to spell; he or she may then ask for the definition of the word or a sample sentence containing the word (usage example). Some spelling bees have prizes, which can include scholarships, trophies, plaques, certificates, dictionaries, or media appearances. Some spelling bees have as a prize simply being declared the winner.
Lovie: How do you spell ‘sarcasm’?
Flossie: With letters, I should think.
At exactly 34 letters each, ‘hyperpolysyllabicsesquipedalianist’ and ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ are tied as the fourth-longest words in the English language. Do you know which word is associated with Mary Poppins and which word refers to a person who likes to use really long words?
Horace wrote in his “Ars Poetica” (English translation: “The Art of Poetry”) the words, “Proicit ampullas et sesquipedalia verba.” (English translation: “He throws aside his paint pots and his words that are a foot and a half long.”). The word ‘sesquipedalia’ is derived from the Latin ‘sesqui-’ meaning ‘one and a half’ and ‘ped’ meaning ‘a foot’ (as a unit of measure). So, a ‘hyperpolysyllabicsesquipedalianist’ is a person who likes to use really long words. If you are fortunate, you will not have such a person assign to you a word at a spelling bee, but such things can happen to even the best of us!
‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ is a made-up, or pretend, nonsense word popularized by the movie “Mary Poppins” (1964). It was derived from the word ‘supercaliflawjalisticexpialidoshus,’ which was invented by Helen Herman and published in her column “A-Musings” in the “Syracuse Daily Orange” (10 March 1931) newspaper, and means ‘something wonderful.’ Have yourself a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious day - after you get your tongue discombobulated!
Riddle: Look at the following words. What do they have in common?
Solution: In all of the words listed, if you take the first letter, place it at the end of the word, and then spell the word backwards, it will be the same word. Now try asking other people if they can solve the riddle.
Common Words with More than One Spelling
- Can you think of other words that can be spelled more than one way?
Introducing ‘lite,’ the new, lighter ‘weigh’ to spell ‘light’ - with twenty percent fewer letters! Pretty exciting, huh?
Syllable: A part of pronunciation that has one vowel sound, making up either a whole word or a part of a word. ‘The’ is a one-syllable word, ‘outdoors’ is a two-syllable word, ‘bicycle’ is a three-syllable word, and ‘dandelion’ is a four-syllable word. Put them together and you have ‘the outdoors bicycle dandelion’ . . . which makes no sense . . .
When asked to spell Mississippi at a spelling bee, a boy asked, “The river, or the state?”
‘Uncopyrightable’ is the only fifteen-letter word that can be spelled without repeating any letters.
Christopher: What school subject do witches like best?
Abstemious, arsenious, and facetious contain all five vowels in the order in which they appear in the alphabet, which is a, e, i, o, and u. Also, nobody knows what these words mean - of course we’re just being ‘facetious.’
l i v e ☆ l a u g h ツ l o v e ♥ g r o w ☼ l i v e ☆ l a u g h ツ l o v e ♥ g r o w ☼
Spelling Cheque Ere
Eye halve a spelling cheque ere
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My cheque ere tolled me sew.
by Author Unknown
l i v e ☆ l a u g h ツ l o v e ♥ g r o w ☼ l i v e ☆ l a u g h ツ l o v e ♥ g r o w ☼
A single seven-letter word in the English language contains ten words without any need to rearrange its letters. The word is ‘therein,’ and the words within it are: the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, ere, therein, and herein.
“When Milo looked up he saw an enormous bee, at least twice his size . . . ‘I am the Spelling Bee . . . Don’t be alarmed . . . a-l-a-r-m-e-d.’” -Norton Juster (born 1929): “The Phantom Tollbooth” (1961)
We once tried to tell a college professor that everyone would be better off if the spellings of words were simplified and made more consistent. She said it could never be done because there was too much history embedded within the spellings of words and the spellings must forever be unchanged so that the history will not be lost. We say history should not hold us back! We say let us make word spellings uniform and easier for the great masses of people, who language is meant to serve and not oppress! Let us begin the process of spelling simplification now! We can start with just a few words typed on paper, and stand on street corners making speeches about it, and hand out the sheets of paper with the new word spellings on them. Let us get this revolution underway! All we need is a leader for our cause - hey, how about you?
“S, u, c, c, e, s, s! That’s the way we spell success!” -Author Unknown: part of a military marching cadence
I thought I’d win the spelling bee
And get right to the top,
But I started to spell ‘banana,’
And I didn’t know when to stop.
by William Cole
‘Underground’ is the only word in the English language that begins and ends with the letters ‘u-n-d.’
His Spelling Was Weke
A teacher whose spelling’s unique
Thus wrote down the ‘Days of the Wique’:
The first he spelt ‘Sonday’,
The second day ‘Munday’ -
And now a new teacher they sique.
by Charles Battell Loomis
Why don’t we just go ahead and standardize and simplify the spelling of words in order to make life easier for all of us? We don’t need to ask anybody’s permission. We’ll just take the initiative on our own. That’s what leadership is all about, right?
Fobia: A persistent fear of misspelled words - this is a joke, of course! The correct word for a fear of spelling mistakes is ‘ortographobia.’ It is a tough word to spell, so now people with ortographobia could have a fear of misspelling the word for the phobia that they have, which is a fear of misspelling words. Should someone get all of the people with this condition a toy stuffed teddy bear and a dictionary?
Pay attention, because the following word will be on the Friday spelling test. It is a chemical with 1,185 letters, and the longest word in the English language:
reonylphenylalanylglutamylserylmethionylserylglycylleucylvalyltryptophylthreonylserylalanylprolylalanylserine. Good luck!
How to really annoy people: Spell out words when speaking. Example: It is time to take the d-o-g to the v-e-t. As if dogs cannot spell, right?
Are you looking for a way to advertise or promote your business or cause? Hold a spelling bee at a school, church, park, or community center, and invite the local news media to attend the event. Have a large banner made with your company or cause’s name on it to place behind the contestants so that any cameras pointed at the contestants will also clearly show the banner.
What if every profession held annual spelling bees?
- Actors should be asked to give their best efforts to spelling the words egotistical, narcissistic, humbleness, and modesty.
- Athletes might try to spell difficult words including temper, entertainer, clean, and consideration.
- Lawyers would be asked to spell challenging words such as ethics, malpractice, defender, and constitution.
- Politicians could be asked to spell unfamiliar words like honesty, truthfulness, service, and citizens.
The English language has 1,100 different ways to spell its 44 distinct sounds, more than any other language.
Jay: Are you going to the amusement park on Saturday?
Ray: Yes, I a-m g-o-i-n-g t-o the a-m-u-s-e-m-e-n-t p-a-r-k on S-a-t-u-r-d-a-y.
Jay: Are you sure you feel good enough to go?
Ray: I feel fine, although I do seem to have been s-t-u-n-g by a s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g b-e-e and I cannot stop spelling o-u-t words! Please h-e-l-p m-e!
Words and Spellings Quiz
- Do some words have more than one accepted spelling?
- Are the ‘spell checkers’ on computers always correct?
- Is the letter ‘y’ a consonant or a vowel?
- How many syllables are in the word ‘elementary’?
- How many syllables are in the word ‘rhythm’?
- Will eating honey help you get ready for a spelling bee?
“The dawn of legibility in his handwriting has revealed his utter inability to spell.” -attributed to Ian Hay (pseudonym of John Hay Beith (1876 - 1952))
‘Rhythms’ is the longest word that does not contain any of the five regular vowels (a, e, i, o, and u); however, it does contain the letter ‘y’ functioning as a vowel. Rhythms is a two-syllable word pronounced as rĭth′əmz. Very strange.
Take the ‘gh’ from rough, if you wish,
And from women, the ‘o,’ as in dish.
Get a ‘ti’ from mention
Or out of attention,
And g-h-o-t-i spells fish.
by Author Unknown
Words and Spellings Quiz Answers
- Some words have more than one accepted spelling, as for example, travelling/traveling and judgement/judgment.
- While spell checkers on computers are helpful, they are not always correct, and you will need to rely on your own knowledge, check other sources such as dictionaries, or ask people for help before making final decisions on spellings.
- The letter ‘y’ can be either a consonant or a vowel, depending on its placement in a word.
- The word ‘elementary’ contains 5 syllables: el-em-en-ta-ry.
- The word ‘rhythm’ contains 2 syllables: rhy-thm.
- There is no actual direct association between the insects called bees and the academic events called spelling bees. Spelling bees, much like quilting bees, are events at which people gather to engage in a common activity, reminiscent of the purported industriousness, or busyness, of bees.
Jason: One of the most commonly misspelled words is misspelled.
Jasper: What is it?
Jason: What is what?
Jasper: What is one of the most commonly misspelled words?
Why are words so difficult to spell? You can blame it on your ancestors, who not only gave you your eye color and the shape of your nose, but also decided to give you the spellings of your words. “Hey, how can we give posterity something to remind them of us? I know, we’ll leave difficult-to-spell words, that’ll make them think of us every time they have to communicate one with another!” And you in turn, are complicating life for generations to come by keeping the same exasperating system in place - so why not do something now for posterity by bringing uniformity and simplification to spelling?
Some words are difkolt - chalinjing - ridiquulus - just plain impossible to spell!
A monosyllabic word is one that contains only one syllable, as for example, the words peach, pear, and plum. Peculiar, isn’t it, how the word ‘monosyllabic’ has five syllable in it? Polysyllabic is an example of a polysyllabic word, which is a word containing two or more syllables, as also do the words apple, pineapple, berry, and watermelon.
Why is phonetic not spelled the way it sounds?
The five words in the English language with the letter combination ‘uu’ are: continuum, dumvir, duumvirate, residuum, and vacuum - although a sometimes also considered word is muumuu. Oddly, although ‘uu’ is a double-u, the two-letter combination is not pronounced like the letter ‘w.’ Confusion abounds everywhere.
“Is it just me, or have you ever noticed that the word ‘and’ resembles a cat in a defensive stance? The ‘a’ is the cat’s head, the ‘n’ is the cat’s arched back, and the ‘d’ is the cat’s raised tail. Nah, it couldn’t be . . . it’s just my ‘imagination.’” -David Hugh Beaumont (born 1966)
If someone invents an easier way to spell a word, should that person get a prize or an award of some kind? How about if we rename a letter of the alphabet after them? A, b, c, d, e, f, g . . . wait, don’t you mean A, b, c, Kevin, e, f, g?
“It’s a poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.” -Andrew Jackson
At MFOL! we spell life f-u-n. We should probably go back to school and learn how to spell it the right way . . .