Misspell or Mispell: What Is the Correct Spelling?

The average 20-year-old native English speaker knows approximately 42,000 words. That’s an awful lot to remember. It’s no wonder, then, that English speakers struggle with spelling. There are a variety of common word misspellings. And you just read the correct spelling of one of them. That is to say, plenty of people have a hard time remembering if misspell or mispell is correct. Well, here’s the answer – and a simple trick to help you remember the difference.

Misspell Meaning: What Is It?

Although people often misspell the word “misspell,” it has a simple definition. It means to spell a word incorrectly. It dates back to sometime around 1645, and is a combination of the Germanic prefix mis – meaning bad or wrong – and the word spell – which means to form words using letters. So, it quite literally refers to forming a word using the wrong letters. It may also be used with suffixes. Two common variations of the word are misspelled and misspelling. Non-American English speakers may also use the word misspelt.

Using Misspelling in a Sentence

Now that you know the origin and the definition of the word misspell and its variants, the next thing to understand is how and when to use it. And the simplest way to do that is to see it used in sentences. Here are five examples to get you started:

Examples

  • If you misspell a word it may be difficult for a reader to understand what you’ve written.
  • Even with the advent of electronic spell checking, it’s still common for writers to misspell words in their work.
  • It’s not easy to work on your spelling when your phone’s autocorrect feature fixes misspelled words as you type them.
  • The human brain can read most misspelled words without trouble as long as the first and last letter of the word is correct.
  • Mispell is the most common misspelling of the word misspell.

Misspell vs. Mispell: How to Spell Misspell

picture showing the correct spelling of mispell

It may seem difficult to remember if it is “misspell” or “mispell,” but it’s not as hard as you think. Since it’s a root word with an attached prefix, all you have to do is write the two parts one after another and you’ll get it right. So when you wonder, how do you spell misspell, the answer is simple.

Just write the prefix -mis followed by the root word “spell.” Put them together, and you get “misspell.” The same holds true for derivatives of the word that include suffixes.

For example, if you’re wondering, how do you spell the word misspelled, you can use the same approach. Write the prefix -mis, followed by the root word “spell” and then the suffix -ed. That gives you misspelled, which is the past tense of the word.

Trick to Remembering the Spelling

Even though resorting to the word’s construction is a simple way to remember if misspell or mispell, it’s not the only way. You can also remember the correct spelling by using a simple mnemonic device. When you’re trying to remember, just imagine a kindly grade school teacher imparting a spelling lesson to her students, and recall that:

Miss Pell never misspells.

After all, she wouldn’t be a great English teacher if she did. And now you’ll never forget if the right spelling is misspell or mispell.

Conclusion

Even though spelling can be quite a challenge for any English speaker, it helps to know a little about the words they’re trying to spell. Understanding the origin of words often yields clues as to how they’re spelled. It certainly provides a clear tip that should help you remember if misspell or mispell is correct. And that’s worth remembering. After all, there’s no more embarrassing word to misspell than misspell.


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