Misspelled Words

Silent Letters

English has lots of ‘silent’ letters such as the c in rock, the numerous final e’s in words like bake, cake, and make, or combinations of silent letters at the end of words like macabre and denouement. Also, we often have more than one way to spell the same sound: meat, meet, and mete all have the same pronunciation, as do key and quay, and the same vowel sound is found in achieve and receive.

Although English spelling may appear to be random and chaotic it is actually the result of our language’s history, often reflecting a word’s ancient roots or the fact that it was borrowed from another language.

Spelling Mnemonics

Frequently misspelled words indicate to some people that there should be a simplification or modernization of English spelling. However, the rules are unlikely to change in the near future, leaving us to get on with memorizing spelling the old-fashioned way so that we can keep misspelled words to a minimum. Here’s our favourite list of spelling acronyms and spelling mnemonics to help you remember those tricky words!

accelerate A Car Can Easily Lead Every Race
address add your address
amateur the ending of amateur is -eur
Antarctic there is an arc in the Antarctic
arbitrary it is contrary to be arbitrary
archaeology archaeology discovers curious houses of ancient eras
bachelor Was Bach a bachelor?
blasphemy the f sound in blasphemy is spelt ph
boycott boycott ends with a double t
business It’s none of your business what bus I get!
calendar the calendar marks the end of the year
category the vowel after the t in category is e
cemetery break the word into smaller parts: ce + me + te +ry
chauffeur there is a double f in chauffeur
column there is a silent n at the end of column
comparative there is a rat in comparative
cynic Can You Note It Carefully?
detach detach doesn’t have a t at the end, just -ch
disappoint this apple is a disappointment
disastrous there is no e in disastrous, even though a connected word is disaster
dissatisfy there is a double ss in dissatisfy
embarrassed I was embarrassed to be barred
environment there is iron in the environment
euthanasia break the word into smaller parts: eu + than + asia
{error} the vowel after tr- in extrovert is o
facetious facetious has all five vowels in alphabetical order
foreign a foreign king may reign
freight fr + eight = freight
gauge Great Aunt Una Grows Eggplants
government there is an n after the r in government
graffiti there are two fs and one t in graffiti
hamster there is no p before the s in hamster
handkerchief there is a d in handkerchief which is often missed out in speech
hierarchy a hierarchy of archers
illegible the ending is -ible
immediate there are two ms in immediate
indict I Never Dabble In Criminal Things
innocuous the incident in the inn was innocuous
inoculate there is only one n and one c in inoculate
itinerary there is an a after the first r which is sometimes missed out in speech
jealousy jealousy isn’t healthy
journey we’ve finished our journey?
knowledge Do you know you’re standing on a ledge?
laboratory there is a rat in the laboratory
liaison break the word into smaller parts: li + ai + son
maintenance ten maintenance men
malign there is a silent g near the end of malign
manoeuvre break the word into smaller parts: man + oeu + vre
massacre there is a double s in massacre
mathematics teach them mathematics
miniature break the word into smaller parts: mini + a + ture
mortgage there is a silent t after the r in mortgage
nausea break the word into smaller parts: nau + sea
necessary it is necessary to have one collar and two socks
noticeable remember that the e is noticeable
occasion there are two cs and one s in occasion
omelette break the word into smaller parts: om + el + ette
opportunity there are two ps in opportunity
parliament Liam is in parliament
peculiar liars are not peculiar
piece a piece of pie
pigeon pigeon contains the word pig
playwright a play about the Wright brothers
poignant the middle part of poignant is gn
possession a double s occurs twice in possession
privilege it is vile to have no privileges
pronunciation there is a nun in pronunciation
qualm there is a silent l before the m in qualm
queue the vowels after qu- are -eue
ratatouille break the word into smaller parts: ra + ta + tou + ille
reconnaissance there is a double n and a double s in reconnaissance
rendezvous break the word into smaller parts: ren + dez + vous
restaurant break the word into smaller parts: res + tau + rant
rhythm Roger Hates Your Trendy Heavy Metal
sacrilege break the word into smaller parts: sac + ril + ege
satellite tell me about the satellite
scissors there is a double s in the middle of scissors
sergeant sergeant begins with ser-
silhouette break the word into smaller parts: sil + hou + ette
skilful there are only single ls in skilful
succeed there is a double c and a double e in succeed
success there is a double c and a double s in success
supersede the ‘ss’ sounds in supersede are both spelt with a single s
temperature there is an e in temperature that is often missed out in speech
tomorrow there is one m and two rs in tomorrow
truly there is no e in truly
tyranny there is a double n in tyranny
until there is only one l at the end of until
usual usual ends in -ual
vacuum there is one c and two us in vacuum
vague vague ends in -gue
vanilla vanilla ice cream from the van made me ill
vehicle there is a silent h in vehicle
vengeance break the word into smaller parts: venge + ance
weather what can you wear for this weather?
weight weight = w + eight
xenophobia the first letter of xenophobia is x not z
yacht Ach, you have sunk my yacht!
zealous this word is made up of the noun zeal plus the suffix -ous

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