Twenty-five Commonly Misspelled Words

by Richard Nordquist/ThoughtCo

In each of the following pairs, only one is a word; the other is a common misspelling of that word. Guided by the brief definition, see if you can identify the correctly spelled word in each set. Then compare your answers to those on the bottom of the page.

  1. The act or process of absorbing something; occupying the full attention or interest.(a) absorbtion (b) absorption
  2. Happening unexpectedly or by chance. (a) accidentally (b) accidently
  3. Lying beyond what is evident; deliberately and deceptively concealed. (a) alterior (b) ulterior
  4. Relating to the North Pole or the region near it. (a) Arctic (b) Artic
  5. The character * used as a reference mark in printing. (a) asterick (b) asterisk
  6.  At a basic level or in a basic manner. (a) basically (b) basicly
  7. Acknowledging someone’s achievements or good fortune. (a) congradulations (b) congratulations
  8. Certain, clearly defined, having distinct limits. (a) definate (b) definite
  9. Terrible, calamitous. (a) disasterous (b) disastrous
  10. To cause someone to feel self-conscious or ill at ease. (a) embarass (b) embarrass
  11. A perfect example of a class or type. (a) epitome (b) epitomy
  12. The systematic study and description of a language. (a) grammar (b) grammer
  13. Serious, grave, causing pain or anguish. (a) grievious (b) grievous
  14. A sweet white confection. (a) marshmallow (b) marshmellow
  15. The science of numbers and their operations. (a) mathematics (b) mathmatics
  16. A low indistinct sound; an abnormal sound of the heart. (a) murmer (b) murmur
  17. A legislative body or a formal conference for the discussion of public affairs. (a) parliament (b) parliment
  18. A right or privilege held by a person or group. (a) perogative (b) prerogative
  19. Within the limits of ability. (a) possible (b) possable
  20. A right or immunity granted as a benefit or favor. (a) priviledge (b) privilege
  21. Endorse as fit or worthy. (a) recommend (b) recomend
  22. Irreverence toward a hallowed person, place, or thing. (a) sacreligious (b) sacrilegious
  23. Not fully worked out or agreed on. (a) tenative (b) tentative
  24. A disastrous event. (a) tradegy (b) tragedy
  25. Wordiness. (a) verbage (b) verbiage
Here are the correct answers to the Quiz on 25 Commonly Misspelled Words.
  1. (b) absorption
  2. (a) accidentally
  3. (b) ulterior
  4. (a) Arctic
  5. (b) asterisk
  6. (a) basically
  7. (b) congratulations
  8. (b) definite
  9. (b) disastrous
  10. (b) embarrass
  11. (a) epitome
  12. (a) grammar
  13. (b) grievous
  14. (a) marshmallow
  15. (a) mathematics
  16. (b) murmur
  17. (a) parliament
  18. (b) prerogative
  19. (a) possible
  20. (b) privilege
  21. (a) recommend
  22. (b) sacrilegious
  23. (b) tentative
  24. (b) tragedy
  25. (b) verbiage

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  1. I know one thing: even if you were successful in the school and the orthography was good, growing up, we lose our skills and start writing illiterately. Mostly it happens when we give up reading the books and are not tied to our job, where we have to read and write a lot. Visual memory helps a lot, when you read. English is not my native, but i hate to see how many mistakes native Russian adults do in their writing. Because the correct spell tells a lot about the person from the other side of PC screen. This may be acceptable for the farmer, a simple construction worker, but not for a public person or a print worker. And nevertheless, good education is kind of our faces.

  2. Great read & article thx. Is it any wonder we see so much chaoskampf with at least 4 types of language used. Legalese, Dog Latin, Glossia & english. “The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words”. Cried the Deaf Phonecian (definition) Tyrant …

  3. Mark Twain, no slouch in the use of the English language, said what English needs is not the spelling reform often called for but alphabet reform. There are about 43 distinct sounds in English. We need a distinct character (letter) that represents each particular sound and only that sound. Alphabet reform will automatically provide the spelling reform so badly needed. When teaching I sometimes felt I should apologize to my students for the vagaries of English spelling but cross the hall was a French class whose students had to deal with an equally convoluted spelling system.

    • All, The English language has so many words that sound the same, but are of course spelled differently and have entirely different meanings….to, two, too……their, there and let’s not forget those Phs that sound like Fs…phrenology. Some of these strange pronunciations of letters come from the Latin origins and then we also incorporate foreign language words into our English vocabulary. Even when words sound the same and of course have the same meaning, different countries will pronounce and spell them differently…aluminum comes to mind with the British saying Al ooo minium. Well that is how the Brits say it….We spell realize and the Brits spell it realise. See, my American spell checker wanted me to change that.

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