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How NOT to look like an idiot when writing

Posted by rachelwriter on December 1, 2009

Photo Courtesy: Flickr/TexasT's

I wonder if I’m the only person in the world who’s bookmarked Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com, and MerriamWebster.com on my browser for daily consultation.

The thing is, I don’t even post a Facebook status or a Tweet without first checking and double-checking my spelling.  Why?  Because the fact is, what and how you write—including how you spell—is, for many, an indication of your smarts.  Seriously.  It doesn’t matter if you’re the shrewdest, most well-educated person in the Western Hemisphere: if your writing sucks, people will assume that you’re a bumbling idiot. 

But not everyone realizes this.   In fact, what spawned this post was yet another hair-raising spelling error that I read while procrastinating on Facebook.   Two of my connections wrote something in their statuses about how—and I say type this with my skin crawling, mind you—“siked” they were for an upcoming event. 

Siked!?  Oh, come ON!  I mean, were they really trying to express their identity as a small stream, gulley, or ditch (which is what the noun, “sike,” means in Great Britain and Scotland)?  Of course not!  (And, even if that had been their intent, it would have been a big, fat error, anyway—for a noun can never be an adjective.) 

No, what they meant to say they is that they were psyched about an upcoming event.  You know, mentally prepared for it.  Psychologically ready for it.  Had the authors taken a mere fifteen seconds to consult a dictionary, they would have spared themselves the embarrassment of posting such an egregious spelling mistake.

Now, I don’t mean to dis my fellow Facebookers.  I know they’re plenty smarter than their Facebook status spelling blunders sometimes make them appear.  But the truth is, even the smartest of us have to consult a dictionary every now and again.  (Heck, I do it on a daily—sometimes even hourly—basis, even if it’s just to confirm the spelling of a word I think I know how to spell already.)  After all, isn’t it better to err on the side of caution?  (And, yes, I mean “err,” not “air”!)

So.  My advice to you?  Go ahead, right now, and plug www.dictionary.com and www.merriamwebster.com into your browser and bookmark them.  Then, before publishing anything—even if it’s just an e-mail, a Facebook status, a Tweet, or a blog post—do yourself (and your readers) a favor: log onto one or both of these sites and double-check your spelling!  It only takes a few seconds, and it can mean the difference between looking like a blithering fool or someone who knows (and cares) about what they’re writing.

 –Rachel

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3 Responses to “How NOT to look like an idiot when writing”

  1. Terri said

    I’m always amazed at how many people think “tonight” is spelled “tonite.”

  2. Yes, you can blame social media AND advertising for the trend toward fabricating new spellings of commonly used words.

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