I’ve been wrong for over 30 years.

I know, it seems impossible, but I have been.  I learned about my wrongness on Friday while blogging, of all things.

The problem is that I didn’t know I was about to learn something because I thought I already knew it.  I hate when I think I know the right answer and then come-to-find-out I was wrong all the while.  It wasn’t something controversial or some stance I took on an issue–it was just a fact I thought I knew wasn’t a fact.  Apparently on this one I’ve been wrong for over 30 years.

Friday I Posted a clever (okay, I thought it was clever) blog about weather and rain called the Umbrella Dilemma.  Now, when  I was writing the post I wrote it as The Umbrella Dilemna.  Notice the “N” in there?  I kept getting this squiggly line and the irksome auto-correct was changing it for me.  I fought this and even went ahead and posted it with the original spelling:  D I L E M N A.  I did this because I was sure that was the way to spell it.

That is the way I learned to spell it anyway.  That is the way I have always spelled that word that means faced with two options and not knowing which is the correct path.

The problem is, after I made the original post, my curiosity got the better of me and I did a little dictionary work and a little rooting around and wouldn’t you know it–I was wrong.  The correct spelling is, and always has been D I L E M M A..

Wow.  Apparently I am not the only one who has had this issue.  Consider this bit of brilliant blogging by The Grammar Girl:

I was taught the wrong spelling in school, and when I got older and checked a dictionary, I was shocked to find that the word is spelled “dilemma.” Further, the only correct spelling is “dilemma.” It’s not as if “dilemna” is a substandard variant or regional spelling. Dictionaries often note alternative spellings and sometimes even nonstandard spellings, but “dilemna” doesn’t even show up that way.

She goes on to explain the Greek origins of Di-Lemma.  Now, as a pretty confident student of Biblical Greek, I have a lot of egg on my face.  I guess it is good now to get the facts straight on this unsettling dilemma.

I’m curious, does anyone out there have a similar word that they learned they’d been spelling wrong?  I’d like to know because now that the whole Pandora’s box of words I might not even know I’m misspelling is opened, who knows what else I’m wrong about.

13 responses to “THE DILEMNA DILEMMA”

    • I was born in 1952 and went to Catholic grade school, where we learned how to spell correctly. I had the highest score possible, (100%) on the test for the spelling championship of the city of Cleveland – in the seventh grade, and the only reason I did not go on to the National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. was that my grade school had given the test a few days late, and so I missed the next step in downtown Cleveland. I received an original copy of “Four Days”, ( on JFK’s assassination, I still have it ), and a cheap, inscribed pen as a consolation prize. What am I getting at? – We were all taught to spell the word in question as “dilemna”. During the last ten or so years, I thought maybe my memory was misfiring because I saw the word spelled as “dilemma” everywhere. Now I know I’m not alone. The spelling “dilemma” is just another dumbed-down lazy spelling used by the same people who think that the word O-F-T-E-N was always pronounced with the “T” being heard. That has just become accepted because so many mispronounced it that both ways became accepted as correct. “Whatevs”, right? Them there nuns knew how to spell and I don’t care what your SpelCzech says. P.S. I just posted this reply to the first comment on the page. It is not related to the actual first post.

      • Yeah, SpelCzech! From back when they were communists and grammar Slovaks.

        By the way, this comment reminds me of C.S. Lewis’s classic Trilemna: Looneytick, Lyer, or Lloyd.

      • i don’t think it matters where the comment got posted–i’m glad that you commented! there are so many of us that were taught the dilemna way, but even as i type it here, i get squiggly lines.
        i wasn’t taught by nuns, i was taught by middled aged east-texas women who knew how to spell and cipher. i never realized how good my education was until i was much, much older and had children of my own.
        thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting.

  1. I’m curious, does anyone out there have a similar word that they learned they’d been spelling wrong?

    Alas, the answer I would give is a bit off color (albeit hilarious, I assure you), and this has always struck me as a family-friendly blog. Well, I’ll say this much. Until I was almost nineteen I consistently and quite unwittingly mispronounced the word tangential. And, as it happens, I used that word quite a bit too.

    Thank goodness I can easily chalk that one up to the folly of my youth.

  2. Hawaiian. This was important because Hawaiian Gardens is a small town in this area and mailed cards there often. I just felt I was spelling it correctly and was a pretty smart person. I had to spell check it before I made this confession. Guess I still am not owning up to my wrongness.

  3. I don’t have a spelling error story, but a word story. At an elders meeting at our old church in St. Louis, we were singing the well known hymn together and got to the line “Let every kindred, every tongue, on this terrestrial ball, to Him all majesty ascribe..” When we got to the word “ball” our pastor, mid-30’s, broke out in hysterical laughter. It had just occurred to him for the first time in his two decades of singing the song, that he had always thought of the terrestrial ball as the terrestrial party, not the globe. It is funny how we can get into a groove thinking of something in a particular way.

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