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The Top Five Most Misspelled Words According to Oxford Dictionaries

This article was submitted to us by Stephen Benton.

There is a quote attributed to South African writer Gugulethu Mhlungu stating that the English language is not an actual language but three, stacked on each other and hiding under a trench coat. And it seems to be nothing but the truth: the language we use today has had quite a few others influence it over the centuries, from Latin to German, and French, giving birth to the one we all love today.

This, in turn, makes its spelling and pronunciation pretty tricky at times. It has almost as many exceptions as it has rules, it has many silent consonants, and it has many use cases that call for one word or another. If you are a YouTuber, Instagram influencer or a sports stars sponsored by casinos it may not be vital for you to always spell all the words right. But if you are a creative writer, it’s essential.

Surprising as it may sound, some of the most common misspellings don’t concern particularly difficult words. According to an article published in 2016 by Oxford Dictionaries, the most misspelled ones are pretty easy – and used very often. Here they are.

5. Separate

The word “separate” comes from Latin, and it’s pretty easy to misspell because of its spoken form that’s often distorted. It is a common word, misspelled quite frequently (5767 times per a billion words) as seperate.

4. Government

The first N is silent – this is probably why so many tend to misspell this word. The most commonly used incorrect form of “government” is goverment, simply transcribing the spoken form of the word.

With all the politics now filling the news all over the world, it’s not surprising that the wrong form of the word is showing up this often.

3. Definitely

Another word coming from Latin that’s misspelled very often. Once and for all, it’s definitely and not definately. It comes from the Latin term definitus, meaning “bounded, limited, defined, precise”. Given its frequent usage, it is a word that you definitely want to use correctly in your texts.

2. Pharaoh

According to Oxford Dictionaries, the wrong form pharoah is used more frequently than the right one, pharaoh. This time, we can’t blame its spoken form, as it doesn’t sound a bit like its written one (/ˈfeɪ.roʊ/). To make things worse, Oxford Dictionaries has revealed that the word has been used in its incorrect form since the 16th century – you can’t blame this one on social media, can you?

1. Publicly

Last but not least, the most misspelled word Oxford Dictionaries has found was… drumrolls… publicly. The most common wrong form found by the editors was publically, and even though it is used very frequently, its correct form is still very much preferred by the writers whose work they have analyzed.

This article was written for us by Stephen Benton.