Top 8 Misspellings From 2013

The bizarre offspring of Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, and Latin dialects, English is a minefield of spelling risks. At Dictionary.com, we get a peek into misspellings from the 3.6 billion searches on our site every year. Here are eight misspellings that increased in search volume in 2013, reflecting the perpetual slipperiness of English sounds and some of the central events of the year.

1. FURLOW


Correct spelling: furlough
The misspelling of the year! These six letters capture the phonetic diversity of English as well as the sad impact of the word, namely the (usually) temporary loss of jobs. In English “ough” can be pronounced 10 different ways, so it’s not surprising that this word was so widely misspelled this year. How else are people misspelling furlough? Find out on our blog.

2. PROZAIC

Correct spelling: prosaic or Prozac
We’re not sure whether this is a misspelling of Prozac (the trademarked serotonin-reuptake inhibitor) or prosaic (meaning “commonplace or dull”). Perhaps this is a new portmanteau to express the ubiquity of antidepressants and their side effects?

3. SHPEAL

Correct spelling: spiel
This word had more misspelling variants than any other trending misspells: shpeal, schpeel, schpeal, schpiel, and shpeel. In case you forgot, or never knew, the correct spelling is spiel from the Yiddish shpiln meaning “to play, gamble.”

4. BETROVED

Correct spelling: betrothed
Oh letter V, how strange you are. You used to be the same letter as U, and you can be pronounced like an F or a TH. This misspelling may have spiked because of the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage in June along with the state-level marriage laws that followed throughout the year.

5. RICHEOUS

Correct spelling: righteous
Obviously, being “righteous” does not necessarily imply that you are “rich.” The sound formed by “ght” here might be throwing some people off, causing them to replace it with the more common digraph “ch” found in words such as which, vouch, and each.

6. ILLUCID

Correct spelling: illusive or lucid
Lucid means “easily understood” and illusive means “deceptive; misleading.” If this misspelling is a combination of illusive and lucid, it could hypothetically mean “not easily understood.”

7. IMPECKABLE

Correct spelling: impeccable
We doubt this is a reference to the heavy-metal band Budgie’s 1978 album of the same spelling. This misspelling likely arose as a merging of impeccable (from Latin) and peck or peckish (from Old Norse).

8. INNOVATER

Correct spelling: innovator
Oh, Latin. Why did you give us two suffixes that do basically the same thing? Both the suffix -or and the suffix -er are applied to so-called agent nouns, so while grocer and tailor are both correct, innovater is not. Sometimes chronic misspellers are affectionately called “spelling innovators.” Considering this cacographical error, perhaps “spelling innovater” is more appropriate.

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