Misspelling(s) of the Year

19 Dec


So I just wrote a guest blog post over at Dictionary.com on The Misspelling of the Year, which is also featured in a BuzzFeed listicle. There are actually three prominent misspellings for furlough (my favorite is ferlow).

The word comes from the Dutch verlof. That ver part is something like ‘forward’. In English it turned into fur but that doesn’t make it related to furtive (which we get from French where the fūr comes from ‘thief’). Nor is it related to furious (which we also grabbed from French, tracing back to furia, a state of frenzied rage). The lof part is related to German laub, which connects it to leave and maybe believe–‘laub’ seems to be about pleasure and approval. A verlof/furlough was permission for a leave of absence. In ye olden years, furlough really was pronounced with a final /f/ sound, which uh makes the -ough ending make a little more sense? (Okay, no.)

To get misspellings of the year, I looked at search terms at Dictionary.com for the last two years and sorted out which ones had had the most significant increases. One thing that doesn’t get reported in the other posts are which things are getting spelled more standardly. The following misspellings went down last year while the standard spellings went up.

  • absolutly
  • arguements
  • greatfully
  • senarios
  • unanymous
  • daquiri

Meanwhile, if this is your first time to the Idibon blog, welcome! Here’s a quick selection of other posts on “popular linguistics”:

And since Dictionary.com’s Word of the Year was “privacy“, here’s a related post from us on using (our) natural language processing tools to protect privacy and security:

– Tyler Schnoebelen (@TSchnoebelen)



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