Words I Can No Longer Spell

posted in: Day In The Life, Word Nerd 16
Spelling bee, 2011. Photo: Heather Temske via Wikipedia.


I have lost the ability to spell certain words.

Well, that’s not true. I could never spell “committment.” See? Still can’t. I never, ever get it that one right, ever.

But the words listed below I feel like I used to be able to spell but now just do not come out right. I’ve been noticing them more often. Because between writing for Quiltfolk and drafting essays for grad school workshops; between my bi-monthly Quilt Scout column and cranking out articles of my own for F Newsmagazine; between and editing tons of other peoples’ work for the paper or various classes; between entire continents of email and a myriad of other assignments I’ve got, I write a lot. (“Alot,” even.) So these words I seem less able to spell lately come up with some regularly, simply because my word input/output is so high.

Here are troublemakers, and I’m going to leave them exactly how I type them, straight out of the gate. Who knows: I might actually spell them correctly! Doubtful, but let’s see what happens:

conscious [that’s a word, yeah, I know — but I meant to spell “conscience”!] reciept

I got “concommitant” and “bureaucracy” right, but that’s it, I think. When did I stop being able to spell “pursue”?? The only break I’ll give myself is that I actually can pull off “receipt” most of the time, but only with a full-stop pause over the keyboard so I can do the “‘I’ before ‘E,’ except after ‘C'” children’s rhyme in my head. I’m a grown woman! I don’t have time for “‘I’ before ‘E’ except after ‘C'”! What is this, naptime?? Do I look like I need a carton of milk?

Actually, I would love a nap and a carton of milk. You can bring that anytime.

Anyway, the “I used to be able to do this thing with my brain and now I can’t” is a scary thing to say, but don’t worry about me. It’s not that I’m losing cognitive ability. If I were, I might have said “loosing cognitive ability.” (Is the “loose” vs. “lose” error everywhere online these days or is that just me?)

No, I feel like my vocabulary, both verbal and written, is generally always improving, even if it’s marginal. There will be a point when I cap out, but I’m not there, yet. Grad school and book readin’ means I’m learning new words all the time and I seem to be able to spell them without too much trouble. And some seemingly tricky words have always been no problem for me to spell. I have no trouble with “proverbial.” “Restauranteur.” “Withdrawal.” “Supercilious.” “Chandelier.” “Rhythm.”


I can definitely spell “bed.” Watch:


16 Responses

  1. Karen Morrell Johnson
    | Reply

    persue and conscious have both always given me trouble too! Thank goodness for spellcheck.

  2. Laura Haywood
    | Reply

    Concomitant. 🙂

  3. Kerry
    | Reply

    Join the club! For a while now I’ve written something, not been happy and then grab a paper to write both spellings – your chosen one with the alternatives underneath (my mum showed me that – I guess she had the same problem!). The wrong spellings look, well, wrong and most of the time I’m right the first time but doubted myself! Nowadays I type something and a lot of my words are underlined. Seems I use a lot of “old English” words! Which is fine by me – as long as I spell them right!

  4. Mary Lou Maloni
    | Reply

    Welcome to the club. I might not be reading and writing as much as you do though there was a time I did, but now I 6certainly misspell words that once were so easy.

    In your article regularly is spelled correctly but I think you meant regularity.

  5. Donette Kurtz
    | Reply

    Thanks for the chuckle. Today on a Monday when it’s usually my day off I have to work. I’ve never been a good speller I’ve always been a math person. So I feel your pain.

  6. Marianne Fons
    | Reply

    Hi Mar, it’s your mom! Generally, when I run up against “license” and it feels wrong (“licence”), I just substitute “permit.” That’s one of the benefits of having a good-sized vocabulary. Renovating the Iowa Theater in Winterset has taught me “renovation” has only one “n” in the front half. Decades ago, Iowa State University hosted a quilting conference titled “Heirloom to Heirloom,” and I have spelled “heirloom” correctly ever since. Can’t wait to see you Wednesday. (I have Rum Raisin in the freezer for you.)

  7. Mary Brewer
    | Reply

    Love the post! How true this is! When you write a lot misspellings start to seem correct, don’t they?
    One correction though – yes you got bureaucracy correct, but concomitant has only 1 m! Sorry!
    By the way – I am a proofreader though not by profession. Would be happy to work for you on spelling and grammar (yup I found a few of those as well). Heard you in Danbury CT last year and have followed you ever since!

  8. Melinda Seegers
    | Reply

    People today do not know how to spell, and that’s too bad. Our written word is a reflection of who we are. Whether it be in a text, email written correspondence and in business or school work, it represents us. We need to be proud of our words — let’s spell them correctly!

  9. Lut de Meulder
    | Reply

    It gets complicated when you speak several languages: address in English with 2 d and 2 s, adresse in French with 1d and 2s and adres in Dutch. In French: restaurateur without the n! Keeps me on my toes all the time!

  10. Melanie
    | Reply

    I don’t know if I ever even USE the word concomitant so spelling it has not been an issue for me. Ha. Loose and lose being used incorrectly irritates me too. I really enjoy many of the memes on Facebook but it always annoys me that they often contain some spelling or grammatical error. I work on trying to not be bugged about those errors….the meaning is still discernible, afterall. But sometimes I do pick at those errors. I’m definitely not perfect and come down hard on myself when I make a silly error. I don’t want misspellings and grammar errors to become acceptable and commonplace but I don’t want to become a stick in the mud either.

  11. Judy Forkner
    | Reply

    When a word doesn’t look right when I’m typing, I pull out my cell phone, & say, “Hey Siri, how do you spell…” Works every time!

  12. MB
    | Reply

    Don’t worry Mary, the spell checker will create far more errors than you could ever come up with on your own.

    On a related subject, I used to find a much higher incidence of punctuation errors in the writing of recent college graduates who worked for me. I attributed it to the internet, but also found out that some college professors have decided to drop certain standards of punctuation (and teach it that way). It drove me nuts. As did the blank look I got when explaining it to them.

    PS. I’m with Melanie on concomitant

  13. Ivy
    | Reply

    Restaurateur. Restauranteur is the less common version; I’d never heard of it before.

  14. Shalena Cardinaux
    | Reply

    If it helps, I have never even heard of the words “concommitant, or recalcatrent, in their correct spelling or otherwise. Mine? Psycho (phsycho…or some other variation) and Definitely (definately…I always have to break it down, like.. “finite…end of story…”.

  15. Lizzie
    | Reply

    I think all that word work has worn down your spelling filter. I’ve taught kids for 25 years, and I question my own spelling all the time now. Since you broached the subject, I will venture to ask if you meant “plumb” tuckered rather than “plum” in your last post. I don’t care either way; your blog is amazing and superior and I appreciate your generosity in sharing your brilliance with perfect strangers. So now I want to delete this reply. But I’ll send because you are in the business of words, and I’d want to know. I just had a dreadful thought; what if someone already pointed it out? And now I’ve written some awkward run-ons to show that I’m a normal person who doesn’t take herself too seriously.

  16. Barbara
    | Reply

    I keep a dictionary a few yards (I’m a quilter, can ya tell) from me and grab it whenever I’m unsure of a spelling. I actually like reading the dictionary. Happy Thanksgiving!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *