You may have had some fun learning about the 100 most often misspelled words, but now it's time for the mother of all lists. Here are 150 more English words that are commonly susceptible to confusing spellings.
Alphabetical List of Commonly Misspelled Words
If you master the orthography of all the words on this page, you'll soon gain control over some of the most important points of the English language.
- a while - If you think of "while" as a period of time like any other, you'll know that "a while" is two separate words. After all, you wouldn't write "asecond" or "aday," would you?
- absence - Does it make sense that the letter E is the one repeated in this word and not S?
- accelerate - Double C follows the A to kick off this word; you want to say it fast, so don't waste time on extra Ls. Finally, there are three Es speeding through from middle to end.
- accomplish - Any college basketball fans out there? If so, you'll be well aware of the ACC teams accomplishments.
- accumulate - "Accumulate" wanted to accumulate a few more Cs, but the Letter Rationing Authorities said two was plenty.
- acknowledge - You should know that there is only one C in acknowledge.
- acquaintance - It's time to get acquainted with the word "acquaint." It comes from the Latin, accognoscere, a combination of ad ("to") and cognoscere ("come to know").
- acquire - Again with the ac-. This one just means to gain, well, anything.
- across - If you're making an X on a form it's "a cross." But, if you're "on the other side of a defined space," then it's just one word, across.
- aficionado - This word comes from the Spanish verb, aficioner, which means "to become fond of." Nothing to do with "a fish."
- anoint - When you apply oil or similar in a religious ceremony, that's anointing. You can remember that it only has one N by thinking that you might rub an ointment onto your body.
- apology - "If you put two Ps and two Ls in apology people will be appalled, and you'll need to apologize.
- axle - An axle is a rod on which two wheels spin. An axel is a jump done by a figure skater.
- accordion - The accordion is portable, so you can play it while riding in your Honda Accord.
- barbecue - You go out, eat some pulled pork and want to play some pool. Maybe behind the bar, there'll be a cue, a rack and some balls.
- beginning - If it only had one N, then the I would have to say its own name, and then we'd be saying "be guy ning."
- broccoli - Don't forget to double the C for some extra vitamins.
- business - In business, you only double the consonants once, at the end.
- camouflage - This is what we get for stealing words from French - extra vowels and Gs that make a soft /j/ sound.
- candidate - Candi has a date. He's handsome, intelligent, and funny - a strong candidate, indeed.
- cantaloupe - The cantaloupe gets its English name from Cantaluppi, the Italian town where it was first grown in the late 18th century.
- carburetor - This word uses all the vowels, except for I.
- Caribbean - Should you double the R or the B? It will be best if you double the B.
- cartilage - It's tempting to double the L in cartilage but, it only needs one L to hold it together.
- chauvinism - Chauvinism (spelled with a CH, not SH) is synonymous with sexist, but originally meant aggressive patriotism and is named after a soldier from Napoleon's army, Nicolas Chauvin. Don't show up with any chauvinism today.
- chili - A chili is a hot pepper, "chilly" means cold, and Chile is a long, skinny country in South America.
- chocolaty - Drop the E to make room for the "Mmmmmm."
- coliseum - The famous one in Rome is the Colosseum but, anywhere else, it's a coliseum. If you're in one and forgot your binoculars, you might look down at the floor and say, "I see...um..." That will help you remember to spell it with an I instead of an O, one S instead of two, and the same -um.
- colonel - Pronounced like "kernel," this spelling doesn't make any sense. The word has been through many changes, but we're still using the pronunciation from a spelling (coronel) that died 300 years ago. Just replace "kern" with "colon" and you'll be ranking high.
- commemorate - Com is Latin for "together," memor is Latin for "mindful," so if we come together (com) to be mindful (memor), we are commemorating it.
- congratulations - The problem people have with this word is that they don't know if there's a T or a D in the middle. Think of this: do you say, "Congrads" or "Congrats?"
- coolly - To make an adverb out of an adjective, you add -ly. Cool.
- criticize - Embedded here is the word "critic." If it were "critisize," it would be done by a critis, which does not exist.
- Dalmatian - You may be tempted to spell Dalmatian with -ion at the end, but this word has almost as many As as a Dalmatian has spots.
- deceive - Remember your rhyme rules here: I before E except after C.
- defendant - Do ants need defending? You'd think an insect that can lift such heavy loads could take care of himself, but the law is the law.
- defiant - When you change the verb "defy" to an adjective, you change the Y to an I and add an "ant." Remember, ants can take care of themselves.
- desiccate - You may be tempted to double the S, not the C, but that is not necessary.
- desperate - If you're playing badly at golf and shot way over par on every hole you'll be desperate to catch up. There is no "par" in desperate.
- deterrence - E is the only vowel in "deterrence," but don't let that deter you from putting double R in the middle.
- development - There's no E on the end of develop, so just add -ment for successful word development.
- diorama - This word is spelled pretty much exactly the way it sounds. Di-o-ra-ma.
- disappear - It's tempting to add an extra S but doing so will only make your spelling skills disappear.
- disappoint - The same goes for "disappoint." Adding an extra S will only disappoint your teacher.
- dissipate - Here we have double S and one P. Try this mnemonic trick: Doug Is Sadly Squandering Innumerable Provisions At The Eatery.
- difference - Once you get past the "diff," it's all about the letter E, no matter how it sounds.
- dying - Don't use "die" with -ng or you won't be talking about changing your hair color.
- ecstasy - Coming from the Greek ekstasis, meaning "standing outside oneself," the C has a hard /k/ sound and followed by S it sounds like X. But when spelling leave the X out of ecstasy.
- especially - The main part of "especially" is the word "special." This is especially important to remember when you're trying to spell "especially." E + special + ly.
- excellent - If Microsoft has done nothing else, it's taught the world how to spell "excel." Just remember to double the L and you have excelled.
- exercise - Remember there are no Zs in "exercise" because the middle of your workout is not the time for napping.
- explanation - I will explain that there's no place for I in an explanation.
- Fahrenheit - You can remember that the E comes before the I at the end because it's pronounced like the English word "height," just drop the G.
- finally - Final + ly. Any questions?
- flabbergast - When your high school sweetheart showed up at the reunion all flabby and talked about gastrointestinal issues, you were flabbergasted.
- flotation - The A from "float" floats to the other side of the T in "flotation."
- fourth - This is 4th, as opposed to "forth". Simply the number four + th.
- fulfill - Look, three Ls is plenty for one word, wouldn't you say?
- generally - General + ly. Simple.
- genius - If you try to put an O in "genius," you've just proven that you aren't one.
- government - Those who govern are meant to do right by their constituents. But, since they often get it wrong, spell "meant" wrong in this scenario too, -ment.
- grammar - Your Gramma would be very upset if you used incorrect grammar.
- gross - Spelling it any other way just makes me sick.
- guttural - Get your mind out of the gutter, and spell "guttural" with two Us.
- handkerchief - A kerchief is a piece of fabric. A handkerchief is a piece of fabric held in the hand for wiping things off or blowing your nose.
- horrific - It's got two Rs just like "horrible," but adding another F would just be awful.
- hypocrisy - A classic case of a Y acting like a vowel when it's really not. The hypocrisy!
- imitate - It's tempting to double the M in "imitate" but, just like there's only one original, there's only one M.
- inadvertent - Accidental and unintentional, both synonyms of inadvertent, share something else besides meaning. They all have -ent- in them.
- incidentally - Don't cause an incident by misspelling "incidentally." That's two Is and two Ls.
- incredible - The vowels in "incredible" alternate: I - E - I - E
- ingenious - You may wonder, "Why does 'genius' not have an O while 'ingenious' does?" There are two possible answers. Either English is crazy (true) or they're completely different words (also true).
- irascible - Spelling Bee champions the world over may be irascible when people misspell it "irascable."
- irresistible - Although it may feel irresistible to put an A in this word, there aren't any at all.
- knowledge - If you were a park ranger, you would know where the risky ledge is with your knowledge of the park.
- labeled - The general rule is that when a two-syllable word ends in a single consonant, you double that consonant to add suffixes like -ed. However, if the first syllable is the one that's stressed in pronunciation, that rule goes out the window. Just slap on the suffix.
- led - This is the past tense of the verb "to lead." "Lead," pronounced the same way as "led," is the metal. It has nothing to do with being a leader.
- lieutenant - This is one of those rare words in English where you really do pronounce all the letters. The first three vowels happen so quickly that they come out sounding like one /u/ sound, but if you slow it down, they're all in there.
- lightning - If you're talking about the bright flash in the sky there's no E.
- liquefy - We want that E to be an I but we just have to keep telling ourselves it's not about what we want.
- lollipop - Although "lollypop" isn't technically wrong, it's much less common.
- lying - Three-letter words ending in -ie - tie, die, vie, lie - tend to drop the E and change the I to Y before adding -ing.
- magically - It's just the adjective, magical plus -ly.
- marshmallow - It's pronounced as though it's spelled m-a-r-s-h-m-e-l-l-o-w. Just don't forget to double the "L."
- mischief - Would you miss your chief if he was full of mischief? Just remember, only one S in this unsavory situation.
- misogyny - The first part (miso) is spelled exactly the way it sounds. The second part (gyny) comes from the Greek word for woman. It's the same root you find in the word OB/GYN. So, if you're having trouble remembering whether it's g-i-n-y or g-y-n-y, just think of your trusty OB/GYN.
- missile - It has the same final three letters as "projectile" and, when one is fired, we hope it will miss.
- nauseous - "Nauseous" uses all the vowels except I and comes from the same Greek root as "nautical." So, if you're seasick, you experience nausea.
- necessary - Only two Es and two Ss are needed for spelling "necessary." Any more is totally unnecessary.
- no one - "Nobody" is one word, but "no one" is two because, if you put them together, that word would want to be pronounced like "noon."
- occurred - Almost every word that starts with the O + C sound has two Cs. Occurred balances this out with a double R too.
- octopus - "Octo" means eight, and "pus" comes from the Greek word pous, which means foot.
- official - Office, officious, official - If you can remember that related words tend to have a lot of spelling similarities, you can remember to spell "official" with two [f]s and a [c].
- omitted - Please omit that extra M you're tempted to add. Double the T instead.
- onomatopoeia - This one's probably the toughest in the bunch. There's no rhyme or reason why there's so many Os. The trickiest one to remember is that last O before the -eia.
- parallel - If you're confused as to whether the double L comes in the middle or at the end of the word, just remember that inside the word "parallel" is the word "all," and all lines or planes that have the same distance between them continuously are parallel.
- parliament - This word comes from the Old French word meaning "speaking." You can remember that it has an I in it because, in parliament, everyone says, "Aye."
- particular - You need to be far more particular about ending this word with -ar not -er.
- peninsula - Spelled exactly as it sounds. No double letters.
- Pharaoh - This guy has all kinds of tricks up his sleeve. Ph- for the /f/ sound, a superfluous A before the O, and a silent H on the end. Maybe Moses should have said, "Hey Pharaoh, let those extra letters go."
- physical - Do you fizz at the thought of physical activity? Just remember it's a ph- for the /f/ sound, Y for the /i/ sound and S for the /z/ sound.
- piece - Don't confuse "piece" with "peace." Although, a piece of cake could go a long way toward bringing about peace.
- pigeon - These flying fiends have been making pigs of themselves for eons, eating any crumb dropped in the street. Perhaps that's why their name starts with pig- and ends with -eon.
- pistachio - You pronounce it like it has sh-, but you spell it with ch-. It's a mystery, but a delicious one.
- pleasant - It starts out like "please," but an ant eats the last E.
- plenitude - If you put an extra T in, it's not that terrible. "Plentitude" is on its way to becoming an acceptable alternate spelling of "plenitude." But to be on the safe side one T is plenty.
- preferable - Is it one F or two, one R or two? One of each is preferable.
- presumptuous - If you are presumptuous enough to take something without asking, then you owe us (u + o + us) a replacement.
- proceed - Don't get this word confused with "precede." In "precede," the D precedes the final E while in "proceed," you write the final E and then proceed on to the D.
- propagate - If you want your plants to propagate properly, it's best they not be crushed by your broken gate. So prop a gate up, for your plants to propagate.
- puerile - Although this word is about childishness, it's not talking about the purity of children, so it shouldn't be spelled the same way.
- pursue - The two Us will remind you that anyone who wants to get to you (2 u) is pursuing you.
- putrefy - Bad calls by the referee can make a game rotten. So, when you think of "putrefy," remember that it has a "ref" in it.
- raspberry - Don't let drinks and gum flavors confuse you with their "Rockin' Razzberry." That's fine for chemically generated flavors, but the natural fruit is a raspberry.
- receipt - Here's one that follows the "I before E except after C" rule. Then tosses a silent P in there.
- refrigerator - It's not cool to misspell "refrigerator." When you shorten it to "fridge," you have to add a D just to follow English spelling rules but, in the full-length version, there's no D.
- religious - To be truly religious don't forget that extra I before the -ous.
- remembrance - Even though it's related to "remember," remembrance forgets the E between the B and the R.
- renowned - This word is renowned for not having the silent K you think it should since it's related to the word "know." So now you know.
- ridiculous - It's related to the word "ridicule," so it starts with ri-, not re-.
- sacrilegious - You may think it's related to "religious" and should be spelled the same way, but the E and the I that revere the L steal away and swap places.
- salary - Not "celery," but "salary," from the Latin salarium, referring to a Roman soldier's salt allowance.
- sandal - Hopefully, you've seen enough commercials for Sandals resorts to know how to spell "sandal." At the resort, you might get sand all over your sandal.
- sandwich - It has nothing to do with witches, so there's no T in it.
- savvy - Who knows why it has two Vs, but it's most definitely not savvy to leave one of them out.
- scissors - It's a tool for cutting but the C is cowed into silence by an abundance of Ss (four of 'em!).
- seize - Argh! A miscreant! Let's seize "seize" for breaking the "I before E except after C" rule!
- sensible - Sensitive, sensitivity, desensitize and sensible all have "sensi-" in them, meaning 'to sense' or 'to feel.'
- septuagenarian - Referring to someone in their 70s, "age" is right there in the middle of the word.
- sheriff - You won't get thrown into the county lock-up if you put too many Rs or not enough Fs in "sheriff," but you do owe him the respect of spelling his title correctly.
- shish kebab - Shish means "skewer," and kebab (or kabob) means "roast meat," so you could have kebab without the shish or vice versa. Don't shush about the shish.
- siege - You may come under siege from angry grammarians if you spell it wrong. Thankfully, it's one of the words that does follow the "I before E" rule.
- similar - From the Latin similis, meaning 'like.'
- simile - Also from the Latin similis, a simile is a comparison using the words "like" or "as." It does not like having another I before the E at the end!
- special - From the Latin species, which literally means "appearance, form, or beauty," it has an -ial ending that sounds like -yal.
- subpoena - In Latin, this means "under penalty." Don't forget the O before the E.
- success - Two Cs in the middle, two Ss at the end. That's how we make a success of it.
- surprise - The surprise is that this word starts with sur- not ser!
- tableau - The tricky part is obviously the ending but just think of your beau. Then, imagine a group of figures representing the story of how you met.
- tariff - A corrupt sheriff might have imposed a tax, or tariff, to enter his town in the gold old days.
- tattoo - Two Ts, two Os. Not that painful to remember, right?
- tomorrow - The sun will be happy to come out tomorrow if you spell it with two Rs and one M.
- tongue - This is a combination of the same word in three different languages - Dutch (tong), Latin (lingua) and German (Zunge) - no wonder it's so tricky.
- tragedy - In Greek, it means "song of the goat." Why? We don't know. But we know that writing odes to farm animals is a tragedy, as is putting a D before the G.
- truly - Please, oh please, don't put an E in "truly."
- ukulele - Hawaiian words tend to be spelled pretty much exactly how they sound and their syllables sometimes repeat themselves. Remember the /ay/ sound is the letter E.
- usage - Just slide the silent E from "use" along and drop an A and a G in the middle to get full usage of it.
- withhold - This is one time when two words are combined and nothing is lost. Do not withhold and Hs here.
Let these commonly misspelled words have a monopoly over you no longer! Once you feel confident that you're able to write most of these words with confusing spellings accurately, it's time to get verbal. Move on to this healthy list of 100 most often mispronounced words and phrases in English. Perfect spelling and pronunciation is yours for the taking.