35 commonplace words that PR pros misspell

Forget ‘stichomythia’ or ‘succedaneum’—here are words that many struggle to spell in press releases and other communications copy.

This week, I set out to answer a simple question: What are the most difficult words to spell in the English language?

I quickly discovered that I should re-frame the question: What are the most difficult, commonly used words in the English language?

There are plenty of obscure, impossible-to-spell words. These are words used at national spelling bees, such as stichomythia or succedaneum. However, when was the last time you used “succedaneum” in a press release?

Below is a collection of commonplace words that people misspell the most, based on a consensus from online dictionaries (Oxford Dictionaries, Merriam-Webster and Wordnik), writing websites (Purdue Online Writing Lab and Plainlanguage.gov) and Ragan and PR Daily articles:

1. Accommodate

2. Acquiesce

3. Baccalaureate

4. Bourgeois

5. Calisthenics

6. Camaraderie

7. Carnivorous

8. Collectible

9. Copacetic

10. Desiccate

11. Dietitian

12. Harebrained

13. Handkerchief

14. Indict

15. Inoculate

16. Iridescent

17. Labyrinth

18. Maneuver

19. Memento

20. Millennium

21. Minuscule

22. Occasionally

23. Occurrence

24. Omniscience

25. Ophthalmologist

26. Paraphernalia

27. Perseverance

28. Poinsettia

29. Playwright

30. Prerogative

31. Reconnaissance

32. Sacrilegious

33. Segue

34. Tawdry

35. Unanimous

What other commonly used words have you often seen misspelled, Ragan readers?

Laura Hale Brockway is writer and editor from Austin, Texas. She is also the author of the writing/editing/random-thoughts blog, Impertinent Remarks.

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