Ready to explore the 100 most often misspelled words in English? Hint: "misspell" is one of them. Below, you'll find a one-stop cure for all your spelling ills.
Each word is paired with a mnemonic pill and, if you swallow it, it'll help you to remember how to spell these tricky words. Once you master the orthography of the words on this page, you'll spend less time searching through the dictionary. Let's dive right in.
acceptable - Several words made the list because of the suffix pronounced -êbl but sometimes spelled -ible, sometimes -able. Just remember to accept any table offered to you and you will spell this word OK.
accidentally - If an -ly adverb comes from an -al adjective ("accidental" in this case), the -al has to be in the spelling. No publical, then publicly. See? And don't forget to double the C.
accommodate - Remember, this word is large enough to accommodate both a double C AND a double M.
acquire - This word is rooted in the prefix ad- but remember this trick: D converts to C before Q.
acquit - Acquit follows the D to C before Q rule, too!
a lot - Two words! Hopefully, you won't have to allot a lot of time on this problem.
amateur - Amateurs need not be mature: this word ends on the French suffix -eur (the equivalent of English -er).
apparent - It's apparent that you must pay the rent, so remember this word always has the rent. Double the P, not the R.
argument - Let's not argue about the loss of this verb's silent [e] before the suffix -ment.
atheist - Lord help you remember that this word comprises the prefix a- (not) + the (god) + -ist (one who believes).
bellwether - Nothing to do with the weather. A wether is a gelded ram, chosen to lead the herd (thus his bell) due to the likelihood that he will always remain ahead of the ewes.
calendar - This word has one E sandwiched between two As. The last vowel is A.
category - This word is not in a category with "catastrophe" even if it sounds like it: the middle vowel is E.
cemetery - Don't let this one bury you: it ends in -ery with nary an -ary in it. You already know it starts on C.
changeable - The verb "change" keeps its E here to indicate that the G is soft, not hard.
collectible - Another -ible word that you just have to remember.
column - A silent final N is not uncommon in English, especially after M.
committed - If you're committed to correct spelling, you'll remember that this word doubles the final T from "commit."
conscience - Don't let misspelling this word weigh on your conscience: CH sound spelled as SC is unusual but legitimate.
conscientious - Work on your spelling conscientiously and remember this word has the CH sound spelled two different ways: SC and TI. English spelling, huh!
conscious - Try to be conscious of the SC [CH] sound and all the vowels in this word's ending and i-o-u a note of congratulations.
consensus - The census does not require a consensus, since they are not related.
daiquiri - Don't make yourself another daiquiri until you learn how to spell this funny word - the name of a Cuban village.
definitely - This word carries a silent E everywhere it goes.
discipline - A little discipline in remembering both the S and the C will get you to the correct spelling of this one.
drunkenness - You would be surprised how many sober people omit one of the Ns in drunkenness.
dumbbell - Even smart people forget one of the Bs in this one.
embarrassment - This one won't embarrass you if you remember it's large enough for a double R AND a double S.
equipment - This word is misspelled "equiptment" a lot. Google it!
exhilarate - Remembering the silent H when you spell this word will lift your spirits and if you remember both As, it will be exhilarating!
exceed - Think of the speed limit you shouldn't exceed to remember it's -ceed, not -cede.
existence - You won't find it spelled with an A after the T anywhere in existence.
experience - Don't experience the same problem many have with "existence." Remember, it's -ence!
fiery - The silent E on fire is cowardly: it retreats inside the word rather than face the suffix -y.
foreign - Here's one of several words that violate the i-before-e rule. (See "believe" above.)
gauge - To learn to gauge the positioning of the A and U in this word remember they're in alphabetical order.
grateful - Keeping "great" out of "grateful" is great.
harass - This word is too small for two sets of double letters, just double the S on the end.
height - English reaches the height (not heigth!) of absurdity when it spells "height" and "width" so differently.
hierarchy - The i-before-e rule works fine here, so what's the problem?
humorous - The R is so weak here, it needs an O on both sides to hold it up.
ignorance - Don't show your ignorance by spelling this word with -ence!
immediate - The immediate thing to remember is that this word uses the prefix in- (not), where the N becomes an M before M (or B or P).
independent - Please be independent but not in your spelling of this word. It ends on -ent.
indispensable - Knowing this word ends on -able is indispensable to good writing.
inoculate - This one sounds like a shot in the eye. One N in the eye is enough.
intelligence - Using two Ls in this word and ending it on -ence rather than -ance are marks of . . . you guessed it.
its/it's - The apostrophe marks a contraction of "it is." Something that belongs to "it" is "its."
jewelry - It's made by a jeweler but the last E flees the scene like a jewel thief.
judgment - Traditionally, the word has been spelled judgment in all forms of the English language. However, the spelling "judgement" largely replaced judgment in Britain in non-legal contexts. In the context of the law, however, judgment is still preferred.
kernel - There is more than a kernel of truth in the claim that all the vowels in this word are Es.
leisure - Yet another violator of the i-before-e rule.
liaison - Another French word throwing us an orthographical curve: a second I after the A and an S that sounds like a Z.
library - It may be as enjoyable as a berry patch but that isn't the way it's spelled. That first R should be pronounced.
license - Where does English get license to use both its letters for the S sound in one word?
maintenance - The main tenants of this word are "main" and "tenance" even though it comes from the verb "maintain."
maneuver - Man, the price paid for borrowing from French is high. This one goes back to French main + oeuvre "hand-work," a spelling better retained by the British in "manoeuvre."
medieval - The medieval orthography of English even lays traps for you: everything about the MIDdle Ages is MEDieval or, as the British would write, mediaeval.
memento - You might wonder why something that reminds you of a moment is spelled "memento?" Well, it's from the Latin for "remember."
millennium - This word is large enough to hold two sets of double consonants, double L and double N.
miniature - Since that A is seldom pronounced, it's seldom included in the spelling. But remember this one is a "mini ature."
minuscule - Since something minuscule is smaller than a miniature, it's a minus, not a mini. See?
mischievous - This mischievous word holds two traps: an I before the E, and an -ous not -us (or even -ious) ending.
misspell - What is more embarrassing than to misspell the name of the problem? Just remember that it is mis + spell.
neighbor - The word "neighbor" invokes the silent "gh" as well as the "ei" sounded as "a" rule. This is fraught with error potential.
noticeable - The E is noticeably retained in this word to indicate the C is soft, (pronounced like S). Without the E, it would be hard (pronounced like K), as in "applicable."
occasionally - Writers occasionally tire of doubling so many consonants and choose to omit one, usually one of the Ls. Don't do that.
occurrence - Remember not only the occurrence of double consonants in this word, but also the suffix -ence, not -ance.
pastime - Since a pastime is something you do to pass the time, you would expect a double S here. Sadly, the second S slipped through the cracks of English orthography long ago.
perseverance - All it takes is perseverance and you can be a perfect speller. The suffix is -ance, ruining an almost perfect run of Es.
personnel - It's not personal that personnel has two Ns, one L, it's business.
playwright - Since playwrights write plays, they should be "play-writes," right? Wrong. In Old English a play writer was called a "play worker" and "wright" is from an old form of "work."
possession - Possession possesses more Ss than a hissing snake.
precede - What follows, succeeds, so what goes before should, what? Nothing confuses English spelling more than common sense. We "succeed" but "precede" (from the Latin words pre + cedere meaning to go before).
principal - The spelling principle to remember here is that the school principal is a prince and a pal.
privilege - According to the pronunciation of this word, that middle vowel could be anything. Remember: two Is and two Es in that order.
pronunciation - Nouns often differ from the verbs they're derived from. This is one of those. In this case, as the second O has been dropped from pronounce, the pronunciation is different, too, an important clue.
publicly - Let's publicly declare the rule (again): if the adverb comes from an adjective ending in -al, include that ending in the adverb. If not, as in here, you don't.
questionnaire - The French doing it to us again. Don't question it, just double up on the Ns and don't forget the silent E on the end.
receipt - Surely, you've received the message by now: I before E except after . . .
recommend - Think of this word as the equivalent of commending: re + commend. That would be recommendable.
referred - Final consonants are often doubled before suffixes (remit, remitted). However, this rule applies to accented syllables ending on L and R, e.g. "rebelled" or "referred" and not containing a diphthong, e.g. "prevailed."
reference - Refer to the aforementioned word and remember to add -ence to the end of the noun.
relevant - The relevant factor here is that the word is not "revelant," "revelent," or even "relevent." It's all about L before V and the suffix -ant.
rhyme - Actually, "rime" was the correct spelling until 1650. After that, people began spelling it like "rhythm."
rhythm - This one was borrowed from Greek (and conveniently never returned) so it's spelled the way we spell words borrowed from Greek and never returned.
schedule - If perfecting your spelling is on your schedule, remember the SK sound is spelled as in "school."
separate - How do you separate the Es from the As in this word? Simple: the Es surround the As.
sergeant - The A needed in the first syllable of this word has been marched to the back of the line. Remember that, and the fact that E is used in both syllables, and you can write your sergeant without fear of misspelling his rank.
supersede - This word supersedes all others in perversity. This is the only English word based on this stem -sede. Supersede combines the Latin words super + sedere meaning to sit above.
threshold - This one can push you over the threshold. It looks like a compound of thresh + hold but it isn't. Two Hs in the word are enough.
twelfth - Even if you omit the F in your pronunciation of this word (which you shouldn't), it's retained in the spelling.
tyranny - If you are still resisting the tyranny of English orthography at this point, you must face the problem of the Y inside this word. The guy is a "tyrant" and his problem is "tyranny." (Don't forget to double up on the Ns, too.)
until - We will never stop harping on this until it's spelled with an extra L for the last time!
vacuum - You just have to remember to spell this word with two Us, unlike "volume."
The English language is full of linguistic pitfalls and exceptions to the rules when it comes to spelling. But, memorizing this list will help you recover from all your spelling woes.