Dragonlords of Dumnonia



(Revised 8/20/08)

How well do you spell? Even with spell-check programs, spelling errors remain among the most common glitches for copy editors to mark. A computer cannot distinguish between two correctly spelled words that mean very different things. Nor are you guaranteed that your spell-check program is checking in American English instead of British, or vice versa.

Try this spelling test, which was compiled by one copy editor. (The site also provides tips on spelling.) You'll probably be surprised!

One way to help you avoid spelling errors in the future is to keep a list of errors you have made in the past. Here is a partial list of errors that have found their way into works reviewed by Scriptorium over the years.


One source of spelling problems are words that sound similar yet mean vastly different things. Here are some examples that have tripped up Scriptorium members.

bass n. musical insturment base adj. deep
breath noun breathe verb
breech the back part of something breach the breaking of something
canvas n. coarse material canvass v. scout about
council n. governing group counsel v. offer advice
diffuse v. spread widely defuse v. remove the fuse
disinterested impartial uninterested not interested
effect bring about, cause affect influence
elusive to escape notice illusive to deceive
faint to lose consciousness feint to make a slight movement, usually with a weapon
flaunt to display boldly flout to mock or scoff at
horde n. crowd hoard v. to stow away; n. Dragon's treasure
imminent about to occur eminent famous
imminent about to occur immanent inherent
knock pound on something, like a door nock fit an arrow to a bowstring in preparation for firing
martial a. having to do with the military marshal n. officer; v. to arrange in proper order
pealed v. The bell pealed. peeled adj. Keep your eyes peeled.
personal a. one's own personnel n. employees
regal adj. royal regale v. entertain well
subtly adv. in a subtle manner subtlety n. that which is subtle
than conj. Used exclusively to introduce a second element in a comparison then adv. "at that time"; adj. "of that time"; n. "that time"
waist A person's midsection waste trash
wickered something made out of wicker whickered neigh or whinney


Although rare, some words in English still show gender. One that crops of frequently is blond/blonde:

The blond man fought with the blonde woman.

Another is fiance/fiancee (The first "e" has an acute accent; but that will not convert to ASCII, so the mark is generally left out in plain text forms of an MS.).

Jalla smiled at her fiance, Kris.
I heard that Jalla is Kris's fiancee.


If words normally go together, when they are used as an adjective, they are hyphenated. If they do not normally go together, they are not hyphenated when used as an adjective. There are two groups.

The ones that take the hyphen:

  1. e-mail, not email
  2. forest-green cloak, not forest green cloak
  3. fresh-baked bread, not fresh baked bread
  4. good-looking, not goodlooking
  5. hard-pressed, not hard pressed
  6. high-pitched, not highpitched
  7. knee-deep, not knee deep
  8. long-term, not longterm
  9. red-haired, not redhaired
  10. self-explanatory, not self-explanitory
  11. wide-eyed, not wide eyed

And the ones that don't:

  1. antitheft, not anti-theft
  2. armchair, not arm-chair
  3. battleaxe, not battle-axe
  4. bedridden, not bed-ridden
  5. chain mail, not chain-mail
  6. coauthor, not co-author (MS Word's main dictionary has it wrong :/.)
  7. coexist, not co-exist
  8. deeply tanned face, not deeply-tanned face
  9. eyelids, not eye-lids
  10. firstborn, not first-born
  11. goodbye, not good-bye
  12. goodbyes, not good-byes
  13. grownups, not grown ups or grown-ups
  14. handmade, not hand-made
  15. highborn, not high-born
  16. lifelike, not life-like
  17. lifelong, not life-long
  18. manmade, not man-made
  19. midair, not mid-air
  20. midday, not mid-day
  21. midwinter, not mid-winter
  22. misrepresented, not mis-represented
  23. moonlit, not moon-lit
  24. multifaceted, not multi-faceted.
  25. multilevel, not multi-level
  26. multipurpose, not multi-purpose
  27. nearby, not near-by
  28. nonexistent, not non-existant
  29. nonprofit, not non-profit
  30. nontraditional, not non-traditional
  31. offhand, not off hand or off-hand
  32. online, not on-line
  33. overchilling, not over-chilling
  34. overseeing, not over-seeing
  35. painkilling, not pain-killing
  36. preeminent, not pre-eminent
  37. premade, not pre-made
  38. redheaded, not red-headed
  39. reemerge, not re-emerge
  40. semiautomatic, not semi-automatic
  41. shorthanded, not short handed or short-handed
  42. sidelong, not side-long
  43. standby, not stand-by
  44. stepdaughter/stepsister, not step-daughter/step-sister
  45. subgroup, not sub-group
  46. telltale, not tell-tale
  47. tiptoes/tiptoed, not tip-toes/tip-toed
  48. treetop, not tree-top
  49. tricolor, not tri-color
  50. warmups, not warm-ups
  51. worldwide, not world-wide
  52. zigzagged, not zig-zagged


Idioms are ways that specific languages have of expressing certain ideas. For instance, in English you "think about" something, while in German you "think on" something. Here are some pesky idioms that have given Scriptorium members trouble in the past.

  1. approval of, not approval at
  2. different from, not different than
  3. enamored of, not enamored with
  4. stare at, not stare in

Preferred Spellings

Sometimes you have a choice of how to form a plural. The preferred form changes over the years, and sometimes you have to do quite a bit of scrambling to keep up with what's current. Here are the current preferences for some words that have cropped up in Scriptorium works.

  1. all right ("alright" is considered to be substandard English)
  2. among instead of amongst
  3. cannot, not can not
  4. focused, not focussed (focuses, focusing, unfocused)
  5. ID, not i.d. (for "identification")
  6. milleniums, not millennia
  7. m.p.h. or mph but not mph.
  8. mustached, not moustached (obs.)
  9. T-shirt, not t-shirt
  10. uh-oh, not oh-oh
  11. wharves, not wharfs

Split Words

Split words are words that are formed from two words that actually mean something on their own. These words can mean very different things, depending on whether you write them as two separate words or as one word. Here are some examples.

altogether completely all together in a group; in unison
any more Quantity: I don't want any more. anymore Time: I don't want that anymore.
every one each one everyone everybody
in between prep. "between" in-between adj. "intermediate"
lowdown n. "the inside facts" low-down adj. "contemptible, base"
set up verb: He set up the meeting. setup noun: The meeting was a setup.

And then there are the words that are two words yet always written as one:

Correct Incorrect
a lot alot
bear hug bearhug
bookstore book store
chair back chairback
cutoff cut off (when used as a noun or adjective; as a verb--He cut off the other driver--it is two words)
dead man deadman
dining room diningroom
every time everytime
footnote foot note
Godforsaken God forsaken; godforsaken
hometown home town
horseback horse back
landmass land mass
ladylike lady like
life span lifespan
lunchtime lunch time
night stand nightstand
saddlebags saddle blanket
sidestepped side stepped
time zone timezone
townsfolk townfolk
weight lifters weightlifters
whatsoever what so ever
window sill windowsill

Odd Spellings

Some spellings are simply strange. There are the ones that are probably best memorized. Here are a couple that tripped up Scriptorium members:

  1. absorb, absorber, absorbing, absorbingly, absorbable, absorbency; but absorption and absorptive.
  2. city block, but voting bloc
  3. opulence, opulent
  4. repentance, repentant

The Truth Behind OK (Maybe . . . <g>

OK, O.K. or okay; from an 1839 abbreivation for oll korrect (all correct; yes, it was a joke) most presses prefer the spelled-out version to avoid confusion with OK (Oklahoma) and because the verb form of the staight abbreviations looks strange when conjugated: OK'd, OK'ing, O.K.'d, O.K.'ing. The abbreviations never take lower case.


And here are some plain, old, ordinary misspellings.

  1. accommodate, not accomodate
  2. accurate, not acurate
  3. adjudicating, not adjucating
  4. aficionados, not aficianados
  5. alleviate, not illeviate
  6. appalled, not apalled or apauled
  7. appalling, not apalling
  8. arrogant, not arogant
  9. assumed, not asumed
  10. asterisk, not asterix
  11. asunder, not assunder
  12. banishing, not bannishing
  13. benefits, not benifits
  14. beseeched, not beseached
  15. bigoted, not bigotted
  16. caressed, not carressed
  17. chapel, not chaple
  18. chided, not chidded
  19. chiseled, not chisled
  20. choking, not choaking
  21. clamber, not clambor
  22. clambered, not clambored
  23. clientele, not cliantale
  24. colonnade, not collonade.
  25. commission, not comission
  26. consistently, not consistantly
  27. conspiratorial, not conspirital
  28. conspiratorially, not conspiratorily
  29. contentedly, not contently
  30. conveniently, not conveniately
  31. coquettishly, not couquettishly
  32. courtesy, not curtosey
  33. crept, not krept
  34. crevice, not crevesse (not to be confused with crevasse!)
  35. crinkled, not krinkled
  36. damsel, not damsal
  37. debris, not debre
  38. defiantly, not defiantely
  39. despair, not dispair
  40. dais, not dias
  41. degradation, not degredation
  42. disappointed, not dissappointed
  43. discard, not disgard
  44. dismantle, not dismantel
  45. disparaging, not disparraging
  46. dispel, not dispell
  47. dissociate, not disassociate
  48. dowry, not dowery
  49. enmity, not emnity
  50. eighteen, not eightteen
  51. emanating, not eminating
  52. embarrassing/embarrassed, not embarassing/embarassed
  53. entwined, not intwined
  54. equal, not equil
  55. equipped, not equiped
  56. erratic, not eratic
  57. erupted, not errupted
  58. exaggerated, not exagerated
  59. exalted, not exhalted
  60. explanation, not explination
  61. feisty, not fiesty
  62. fidgeted, not fidgetted
  63. fidgeting, not fidgetting
  64. fiery, not firey
  65. flexible, not flexable
  66. forcibly, not forceably
  67. forlorn, not forelorn
  68. formidable, not formidible
  69. futilely, not futily
  70. gallantly, not galantly
  71. gilded, not guilded
  72. glided, not glidded
  73. glowed, not glew
  74. hesitancy, not hesitency
  75. hierarchy, not heirarchy
  76. hostiley, not hostily
  77. immemorial, not immemmorial
  78. immobilizing, not imobilizing; immobilized
  79. immortality, not imortality
  80. imperceptibly, not imperceptably
  81. inadvertent, not inadvertant
  82. inadvertently, not inadvertantly
  83. include, not inclued
  84. incompetence, not incompetance
  85. inheritance, not inheritence
  86. inlaid, not inlayed
  87. innkeep, not inkeep
  88. interfere, not interfer
  89. interpreted, not interpretted
  90. involuntarily, not unvoluntarily
  91. irresistible, not irresistable
  92. irresistibly, not irresistably
  93. labeled, not labled
  94. li'l, not lil'
  95. livery, not livary
  96. ma'am, not mam
  97. mahogany, not mahogony
  98. maneuver, not manuever
  99. mangy, not mangey
  100. marauders, not mauraders
  101. meticulously, not maticulously
  102. mewling, not muling
  103. mischievous, not mischevous
  104. misinterpreted, not misinterpretted
  105. mislabeled, not mislabled
  106. mongooses, not mongeese
  107. murmured, not murmurred
  108. narrational, not narratorial
  109. necessary, not neccisary
  110. necessity, not neccesity
  111. negative, not negetive
  112. noncommittal, not noncommital
  113. nonexistent, not nonexistant
  114. obeisance, not obiesance (sounds like "ay" as in neighbor and weigh . . .).
  115. occurrence, not occurance
  116. oscillations, not oscilations
  117. overlaid, not overlayed
  118. paid, not payed
  119. personally, not personnally
  120. pervading, not prevading
  121. pizzazz, not pizazz
  122. plummeted, not plumetted
  123. possessing, not posessing
  124. precipitate, not percipitate
  125. precipitous, not percipitous
  126. precocious, not percocious
  127. preferred, not prefered
  128. prevailed, not prevaled
  129. quorum, not quorem
  130. reasonably, not reasonablely
  131. rebelled, not rebeled
  132. recognizable, not recognizeable
  133. recommend, not reccommend
  134. referring, not refering
  135. reinforce, not reenforce
  136. resplendent, not resplendant
  137. rudely, not rudly
  138. scenario, not scenerio
  139. seized, not siezed
  140. seneschal, not seneshal
  141. separate, not seperate; separation, not seperation (HINT: There's "a rat" in separate.)
  142. servant, not servent
  143. shaky, not shacky
  144. shining, not shinning
  145. similar, not similiar
  146. slunk, not slank
  147. smoky, not smokey
  148. stiletto, not stilletto
  149. stilettos, not stilettoes
  150. subtlety, not subtlty
  151. suddenness, not suddeness
  152. sumptuous, not sumptious
  153. suppressed, not surpressed
  154. tousled, not touseled
  155. transferred, not transfered
  156. tyranny, not tyrrany
  157. unceremoniously, not uncerimonious
  158. unceremoniously, not uncerimoniously
  159. vicinity, not vacinity
  160. visibly, not visably
  161. wagoner, not wagoneer
  162. war cry, not warcry.
  163. whipping, not whiping
  164. whuffing, not whuffling
  165. wineglass, not wine glass
  166. wiry, not wirey
  167. wistfully, not whistfully

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