Tyler Vendetti
October 16, 2014 11:03 am

In first grade, I made second place in an impromptu classroom spelling bee thanks to the word “thorough” which is suspiciously similar to the word “through” which is what I ended up saying. It is a slip-up that has haunted me my entire life. I even once considered changing my middle name to “thorough” so I would never forget it. Since then, I’ve stumbled upon other tricky terms that threaten to reduce my essay grades and embarrass me in front of a bunch of 7-year-olds. For example:

1) Conscience (not Conscence)

Here’s how I think of it: your conscience understands and utilizes the science of conning, which is why it can convince you to believe that you need that second pumpkin spice latte or that third doughnut. Maybe it’s a stretch, but it seems like the only way to stop myself from riddling my essays with conscence or conchents or “those voices inside my head.”

2) Climactic (not Climatic)

If you say the movie was climactic, you’re saying it had rising action that eventually led to an interesting “climax.” If you say the movie was climatic, you’re saying the director was really concerned with how accurate the rainstorm was or how heavily the weather was featured. If you say the movie was climactic and climatic, you’re probably talking about The Day After Tomorrow. Good movie choice, anonymous reader.

3) Colonel (not Kernel)

I know what you’re thinking: colonel is not difficult to spell. True. Kind of. If the first time you encountered colonel was on paper, you’re right, it’s pretty easy. But if you hear the word “colonel” first, your first instinct, naturally, will be to spell it as it is pronounced (like kernel). It doesn’t make sense, I know. I don’t make the rules.

4) Guerrilla (not Gorilla)

For a while, U.S. History was a very confusing class. Anyone would be bewildered upon hearing that their country used “gorilla warfare” to wear down their opponent. It doesn’t help that Vietnam was fought primarily in jungles and that I never actually saw the word written down until a few weeks into the semester. Guerrilla warfare, I learned, involved small groups of combatants who enjoyed using atypical military techniques, not a bunch of government-trained zoo animals programmed to attack the enemy.

5) Frolicking (not Frolicing)

Frolicking suffers from a very serious condition known as the “suddenly appearing k.” In its infinitive form, the word leaves out the added “k,” becoming “frolic” but when it’s put in motion, it takes on an added letter, presumably to prevent people from pronouncing it like “slicing.” As a result, though, I end up splitting apart the new word, frolicking, into “fro-licking” and am presented with an entirely new image in my head.

6) Eavesdrop (not Evesdrop)

Or ezdrop. Or easedrop. Really, any other spelling of this word would make more sense, I think, than the actual spelling, which includes a “v” smack dab in the middle of it. Only by making an active effort to pronounce the “v” am I able to remember that it exists, which is the same reason I mentally pronounce “Wednesday” as “Wed-Nes-Day” every time.

7) Segue (not Segway)

For the record, unless you are friends with someone actually named “Your Next Topic,” you would never “segway” to your next topic because that suggests that you are getting on a segway and literally riding over to them. I don’t need to be there to know that ninety-nine percent of the time, your friend is not far enough away that you need to segway to them. Walking will do. If you are in the middle of a presentation, though, and you want to move onto your next point, it is appropriate to “segue” to it. You can leave the motorized scooter at home.

8) Mischievous (not Mischievious)

The constant misspelling of this word comes from our tendency to try to make “mischievous” sound more, well, mischievous. By adding an unnecessary “i” after the “v,” we allow ourselves to drag out the “chee” and say “miss-cheeeeee-vee-us,” which brings to mind images of a mad scientist looking at his plans for world domination and tapping his fingers together. I’ve discussed this before, though, so I won’t bore you with the details.

9) Congratulations (not Congradulations)

For most of my life, I associated “congratulations” with Hallmark cards about graduating middle school or high school or space camp, so it’s no surprise that I ended up slipping “grad” right into the word itself. Most people shorten it to “congrats” nowadays, which makes things easier, but this one tripped me up for the longest time.

10) Hierarchy (not Hiearchy)

Whether or not you pronounce this word correctly depends on how much effort you’re willing to put into saying the extra “r.” If you’d rather skip over it and continue with your spiel on gender hierarchies in old Hollywood musicals, feel free, but don’t be surprised if you end up accidentally writing “hiearchy” on all your reports because you’ve been neglecting the extra letter the whole time.

(Featured image via)

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