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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 06/ 2/2010

The most common mispellings, er, misspellings

By Valerie Strauss

Surely you’ve heard the line, “If you don’t know how to spell a word, how are you supposed to look it up?”

That is generally not a problem for the 273 youngsters who are participating Thursday and Friday in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. These kids can spell, and the ability sometimes runs in families.

Last year, the winning word "Laodicean," which can mean lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics, was properly spelled by Kavya Shivashankar. This year, her younger sister, Vanya, is competing, and, at 8 years old, is the youngest contestant. (The students in the competition range in age from 8 to 15, but most are from 12 to 14 years old.)

With the focus at the bee on perfect spelling, I started wondering about this annoying words that are often misspelled, such as “misspelled.”

One of them surely has to be the French word “connoisseur,” which has been the most frequently used word on National Spelling Bee word lists over the years.

The word most often misspelled on the search engine Yahoo! so far this year has been, rather understandably, “Eyjafjallajokull,” the ash-spewing volcano in Iceland that has disrupted air traffic around the globe.

Here are some other recent misspellings on Yahoo!:
* “Gulf Oil Spell”: for Gulf oil spill.
* “Poverty survivor”: for Parvati Shallow, winner of “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains”
* “Goldman Saks or Goldman Sacks”: for Goldman Sachs.
* “Louie Vaton Purses”: for Louis Vuitton purses
* “Crystal Bowersocks”: for Crystal Bowersox, an “American Idol” finalist
* “Lost Series Finally”: for "Lost" series finale
* “Wallmart”: for Wal-Mart
* “Justin Beaver”: for teen singing sensation Justin Bieber

And some of the top spelling questions on Yahoo! in the past 30 days:
* “how do you spell martyr”
* “how do you spell congratulations”
* “how do you spell cliche” (cliché)
* “how do you spell hallelujah”
* “how do you spell invation” (invitation)
* “how to spell sincerely”
* “how to spell super cala fragalistic exbealadoshes” (supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from “Mary Poppins,” the 1964 Walt Disney musical film)
* “how jake gillenhal”(actor Jake Gyllenhaal)

Online dictionaries have their own long lists of commonly misspelled words, including and and, with its Miss Spelling's Spelling Center. There’s even a Web site called, that has, somewhat obviously, a lot of commonly misspelled words in a list that looks a lot like the other ones.

Some words on all of the lists:


What other words always trip you up?

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By Valerie Strauss  | June 2, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Reading  | Tags:  Goldman Sachs, Gulf oil spill, Jake Gyllenhaal, Justin Bieber, Lost series finale, National Spelling Bee, Parvati Shallow, Scripps National Spelling Bee, Vanya Shivashankar, commonly misspelled words, lost series finally, spelling bee, words most commonly misspelled  
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Words that are very hard to visually distinguish on the computer screen because they have a lot of similar letters like "possess" trip me up. It's hard to complete the pattern because posess, posses, etc all look the same.

Posted by: scott59 | June 2, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

On the Virginia kid who has tons of printed note cards, how would he transfer them when he goes to college? And how could he able to create some deep meaning with all the fancy words that he's been having fun with note cards alone? I mean, much less convenient.

Posted by: knowledgenotebook | June 2, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

minuscule (also miniscule)
judgment (not judgement)
separately (not seperately)

Posted by: robjdisc | June 2, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Lead is a metal that can be used to make a medal for those who have led.

Posted by: JMGII | June 2, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Today's headline -
"Metro brings in outside expert to access escalator and elevator problems"
assess - not "access"

Posted by: robjdisc | June 2, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

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