The English language is full of words that seem overstuffed with unnecessary letters, feel like they should be spelled a different way, or just don’t make sense. Here are some of our favorites, explained.
With only six letters, “dilate” really shouldn’t be hard to spell, but the way people usually pronounce it can throw spellers for a loop. Many people say “dilate” as three full syllables, “di-a-late,” leading themselves and others to add in an extra “a” while spelling it. But let’s put this easy misunderstanding to rest—there’s no such word as “dialate.” Find out some more words even smart people mispronounce.
With “indict” popping up as a buzzword in today’s political climate, for better or worse, many people find themselves doing a double take when they see it written out. Though the word is pronounced “indite,” it has a “c” in it! The legal term, whose first use dates back to around 1620, is a Latin variation on an earlier word that was spelled “indite.” To make things even more confusing, “indite” is actually still a word; it means to write or compose.
A “sacrilegious” act is disrespectful to something of religious significance, so it makes a lot of sense to just assume without a second thought that the word is spelled “sacreligious.” But that would be too easy, now, wouldn’t it? “Sacrilegious” comes from “sacrilege,” not from “religious,” and the fact that they sound so similar is a pure linguistic coincidence. The word “sacrilege” came to be from the Latin sacri-, or “sacred,” and legere, meaning “to gather or steal.” See if you know how to spell the most commonly misspelled words in every U.S. state.