English is wierd… or is it weird? Weird vs wierd?
“I before E except after C” is something teachers tell students to help them remember the rules of spelling in English. Unfortunately, these rules only apply to certain words.
What if you’re left running a “hiest with a wierd,” “foriegn nieghbor?” Or “is it a wird neighbor?” Or “a wired nieghbor?” Yikes!
The word “weird” is one of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language, and who could blame us? It’s weird.
Weird Meaning: What Does It Mean?
You probably are familiar with using the word weird, but what does it actually mean? The word weird is most commonly used as an adjective (meaning it’s used to describe something) that means “unusual or strange.” It can also mean “suggesting something supernatural; uncanny.”
Additionally, weird can also be used as a verb (a word that shows an action). In this case, it would mean “to induce a sense of disbelief or alienation in someone.”
Using Weird in a Sentence
Using the correct spelling in a sentence depends on which definition you’re intending to get across. The most common use of the word is in reference to something out of the norm, but it can also specifically be used in reference to describing something supernatural or used as a verb. Here are some examples of each:
- You might say you had a weird experience late one night that caused you to question your disbelief in UFOs.
- The weird lights in the sky weirded you out.
- The fact that your mom let you stay up late instead of keeping your normally strict bedtime was weird.
- The atmosphere on Halloween night was weird and made the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
- The weird spider was brightly colored, built a triangle-shaped web, and seemed to dance to the beat of the nearby music.
Weird vs Wierd: How to Spell Weird?
The correct spelling is “weird” which breaks the I before E rule.
If you’re wondering how or why weird breaks the I before E “rule” that most English words follow, it’s because the word has an interesting origin.
If you trace the use of the word weird back through history and literature, you’ll actually find it comes from the Old English word “wyrd.” Old English was used in Europe up until the 12th century. The word “wyrd” meant “fate, chance, or fortune.”
This was before the invention of the printing press so anyone wanting to write out this word had to do it by hand. This resulted in a variety of spellings and over time the word evolved.
Eventually, wyrd shifted to the modern spelling, weird, by the 15th century.
As the spelling shifted, so did its meaning, which is why there are a couple of slight variations of its meaning. The older definition relates to the supernatural and is the one most closely tied to the definition from centuries ago.
Trick to Remembering the Spelling
If you’re confused by spelling weird, you’re not alone. Many people can remember the helpful rhyme “i before e except after c” but don’t always remember which words don’t follow that helpful rule. Common misspellings of weird include “wierd,” “wired,” “wird,” or “weard.”
Here are some helpful tricks to remember how to spell the word weird.
- Weird is a weird word. It doesn’t follow the “rule” – because it’s weird! As long as you can remember the definition of the word, you can remember that the way to spell it goes right along with the definition of it being unusual.
- Spell check! Most word processing software catches wierd and flags it for you by underlining it.
- Search it up. When it doubt, put it through a quick internet search check.
- Memorize it. Sometimes you just can’t beat good, old rote memorization.
- Forget the rhyme. A study done in 1932 by Leonard B. Wheat concluded that of the 128 common words containing the vowels “e” and “i” only 65% of them followed the “i before e except after c” rule. He recommended changing it to “i usually comes before e” and using it more as a helpful spelling guide than a “rule.”
- Break it down phonetically. If you sound out the word, it’s spelled the way you pronounce it if you say it as a two syllable word. We ird. Weird.
Final Thoughts: Weird or Wierd?
If you’ve ever paused and wondered if you should write weird or “wierd,” you’re not alone. The correct spelling is “e” before “I,” despite its contradiction to the “rule” you may have been taught as a kid. Weird is a weird word and has an unusual spelling.