Creative or deliberate misspelling?
So You Think You Can Spell? contains no fewer than 1,800
intentional misspellings. They were conjured up to look conceivably,
believably, or confusingly correct -- to instigate doubts or
dilemmas. They'll all be found, of course, in the tests having a
Regrettably, the book also contains other misspellings --
unintentional ones (in the answers section). We're deservedly
chagrined about these errata. (In a spelling book, there is no such
thing as a small error.) They're already on file with our publisher
and will be corrected in the book's next printing.
We're indebted to some sharp, eagle-eyed readers-spellers, who
appreciated the book but tactfully alerted us to the slip-ups.
Foremost of these is competitive
speller Scott Firebaugh. Scott, who finished second in the AARP
National Spelling Bee in 2009, found not one or two but most
of the mistakes we've recorded here at the website and gave us the
news gently and politely. How long would it have been before the
co-authors detected all of them? Scott's AARP bee Waterloo last year
was the word etui (etui appears as a test word in So You
Think You Can Spell?, and Scott remarked to us that he wished he
had had a copy of our book before that showdown). Scott, here's
wishing you luck and a first place in Cheyenne this year!)
owe similar thanks to a copyeditor or two at the New York Times,
who were the first to point out three printed answers that were not correct.
Apologies to all readers. We had hoped for nothing less (spellingwise,
at least) than a perfect final book. If you detect any other errors,
we hope you, too, will get in touch with us.
(If at this point you simply want to see the complete list of the book's
typos, the pages where they'll be found, etc., stop reading and
But we also had a thought regarding this water under the bridge.
Would you -- a very good speller, perhaps -- have caught all or most
of the misspellings that became errata?
In that spirit, we'd like to propose an optional challenge.
Suppose you were invited to read -- edit -- So You Think You Can
Spell? carefully from cover to cover. A brief test of your
orthographic eye, one where you needn't spell any words, just
identify those misspelled. To detect most of those same erroneous answers
that crept or, worse, somehow hid out in plain sight, into our
Below is a list
(in simple paragraph form) of more than fifty words. Among them are
the same erroneous spellings that turned up in our book. Which of these listed words are
misspelled? And how many?
Acting Editor Quiz
fillup, philately, philistinism, Phillipines, Essenes,
philanderer, phillumenist, phellem, adjure, djeridoo, digerati,
derriere, derring-do, menstruum, mesclun, myrmidon, meridional,
shirr, myrhh, Pyrrhic, murmurous, mephitic, Cyrillic, terrazzo,
moussaka, appoggiatura, Appaloosa, mozzarrella, pizzicato,
passacaglia, llano, monastery, capillary, lamasary, centenery,
missilery, dromedary, orogeny, orrery, oregano, arugala, arpeggio,
ferruginous, misogynous, fuligenous , pulchritudinous, croissant,
fricassee, gelee, cloisonnee, anni mirabilis, anuresis, aurora
borealis, habeas corpus, compos mentis
click here for answers to the quiz
and for errata list