Spelling: Commonly Misspelled Words

Sometimes, when words are spelled wrong, it’s because they’re inconsistent with the book’s dialect, they’ve been incorrectly capitalized, or you’ve mistaken it with a homonym (words that sound the same with different spellings).

Most of the time, though, words are just hard to spell.

When we read, we don’t usually pay attention to the way a word is spelled. Once we understand what the word means, the spelling becomes second thought, even less of a thought when we’re listening to the word spoken aloud. Of course, people are even worse at spelling nowadays thanks to autocorrect making it possible for us to type without worrying about spelling at all. However, this can come back to bite us if we’re not careful.

Words like “definitely” and “defiantly” are constantly being mixed up. When typing fast, I can even find myself writing “int he” instead of “in the” and making other such mistakes. The biggest mistakes can even originate from your spellchecker, as it corrects while you type. It may change a misspelled word into an incorrect one, and when you reread it, you mind automatically fixes the mistake. (Did you find the mistake in the previous sentence? If not, your mind fixed the mistake without you noticing.) Using the Read Aloud function can help solve this problem, but how can you arm yourself against incorrect spelling to begin with?

Below is a list of commonly misspelled words (not including homonyms or regional spelling). A big issue is that some of these words don’t even show up as “misspelled” by a basic spellchecker.

Trouble Words

  1. Awkward                    (not: akward)
  2. Accommodate             (not: accomodate, acommodate)
  3. Acquire                       (not: aquire)
  4. Believe                        (not: belive)
  5. Bellwether                   (not: Bellweather)
  6. Bizarre                         (not: bizzare)
  7. Colleague                    (not collegue)
  8. Coolly                         (not: cooly)
  9. Definitely                    (not definately, deffinately, deffinitely, definitley)
  10. Drunkenness               (not: drunkeness)
  11. Dumbbell                    (not: dumbell)
  12. Embarrassed                (not embarassed, embarrased)
  13. Entrepreneur                (not enterpreneur, entrepeneur, entreprenur, entreperneur)
  14. Environment                (not enviroment)
  15. Length                         (not: lenght)
  16. Liaison                        (not: liason)
  17. License                        (not lisence)
  18. Millennium                  (not: millenium, milennium)
  19. Minuscule                    (not: minisule)
  20. Murderer                     (not: murder) *person who murders, not the act
  21. Protester                      (not: protestor)
  22. Publicly                       (not publically)
  23. Receive                       (not recieve)
  24. Responsibility              (not responsability)
  25. Rhythm                       (not rythm)
  26. Separate                       (not seperate)
  27. Sergeant                      (not: sargent)
  28. Strength                       (not strenght)
  29. Successful                   (not successfull, succesful, sucessful)
  30. Succinct                       (not succint)
  31. Supersede                    (not: supercede)
  32. Torturer                       (not: torture) *person who tortures, not the act
  33. Until                            (not untill)
  34. Weather                       (not: wheather)
  35. Whether                       (not wether)

This is only a short list I’ve compiled of misspelled words. Arm yourself with a spellchecker like Grammarly to fix mistakes while you type (keep in mind this might correct to the wrong word). Then, while you self-edit, use the Read Aloud function to catch incorrect words or mistakes (this helps, but incorrect spellings may also sound the same out loud). Finally, hire a professional (copyeditors are the ones who catch spelling errors).

Related Articles:
How to Get the Most Out of Self-Editing
What is Copyediting?

2 responses to “Spelling: Commonly Misspelled Words”

  1. I’m guessing that “you mind …fix..” was intentional! Good info!

    1. I didn’t, actually. As the article says, everyone is a victim of typos at one time or another. But good catch! I turned it into a little test for future readers.

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