PR Query: What Are Some of the Toughest Words to Spell?


Misspelling words can be embarrassing, not "embarrasing."

A habit of misspelling words can do serious damage to a professional communicator's reputation. Whether they crop up in a quick email to colleagues or in a press release for your most important client, misspelled words simply make the writer look bad.

It's certainly true that many words in the English language are difficult to spell. Think about the word "misspell" itself—you may be thinking, "Is it two s's or one?" The idiosyncrasies of the language are at fault here, as there are no hard and fast rules in cases like "misspell" (think about "pastime," which dropped its second "s" over time).

The occasional misspelling will inevitably sneak into your writing. Nobody is perfect, of course. Still, in the era of spell check, spelling simple words incorrectly in professional communications is inexcusable. In a field where getting your message noticed is of paramount importance, poor spelling will catch people's attention for the wrong reason.

In an effort to help stem some simple misspellings, we queried our audience on Facebook and Twitter to see what words PR pros think are the toughest to spell. Check out which seemingly uncomplicated words made the list:

  • Definitely. Not "definatly" and definitely not "definately."
  • Necessary. Only one "c."
  • Conscious. Not to be confused with conscience or spelled, "conscius."
  • Accommodation. Combinations of double letters are tricky.
  • Conveniently. Vowel soup.
  • Occasion. Not "occassion."
  • Commitment. Double letters at work again.
  • Receive. "I" before "e" except after "c."
  • Embarrassing. Don't get "emmbarrassed" by adding an extra "m."
  • Tomorrow. Come on.

And if you're interested in further brushing up on your spelling, check out this list from Oxford Dictionaries.

Follow Brian Greene: @bwilliamgreene


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  • Gayle Falkenthal

    I’m astonished by this. All of these words are easily caught by a spell check if your own proofreading skills are poor. What concerns me more are errors like “you’re” for “your,” which a spell check will not catch. From what I see, apostrophe abuse is far worse and far more common than misspelled words. “CEO’s,” “1980′s,” “article’s” are all incorrect when used in the plural form. I see this daily.

  • Jason Inskeep

    Also “loose” for “lose.” Common in recent graduate’s work.