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View Full Version : On the horns of a......how is that spelled again?



OldRightHander
02-28-2012, 12:53 PM
I was taught to spell the word dilemna, spelled it that way all the way through grade school, high school, and college, and never was corrected by a teacher or professor. Now every time I type it I get the dreaded red underline.

Finally today I decided to check on this and I find out that there's a rather intense debate in some circles about the proper spelling of this word. People my age and older seem to have been taught dilemna and now there are a lot of people insisting that the proper spelling is dilemma, which of course doesn't produce the red line on the computer. What's the consensus here? I learned grammar in the 70s and I'm a bit of a curmudgeon. I still won't use they as a singular pronoun even though it's becoming more common.

RichRed
02-28-2012, 01:02 PM
We're about the same age, ORH, and I can honestly say this is the first time I've ever heard of the "dilemna" spelling. Learn something new every day.

Roy Tucker
02-28-2012, 01:05 PM
Dang.... That's interesting. I'm a word geek and avid crossword addict and I've never seen or heard of "dilemna". Ever. Learn something new every day....

Google search turned up this:

http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-dil1.htm

http://www.wordwizard.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=20317

texasdave
02-28-2012, 01:13 PM
I graduated high school in 1972 and I always thought it was spelled dilemna. I suppose that just means that I was always wrong. =)

BillDoran
02-28-2012, 01:16 PM
I'm a '02 high school graduate and I've always thought it was dilemna. I was perplexed when I started being corrected in college and by word processors.

Perhaps it's regional?

klw
02-28-2012, 01:59 PM
Graduated HS in 87. I never heard of dilemma until now. I have always thought it was dilemna. Maybe it is a regional thing akin to Coke,Soda and POP and Seattle falls in the dilemma category.

BillDoran
02-28-2012, 02:22 PM
Grammar Girl says the "dilemna" spelling is a mystery, apocryphal, and not regional. Weird.

http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/is-it-dilemma-or-dilemna.aspx

If anyone gets to the bottom of this, I'd love to hear it.

RedFanAlways1966
02-28-2012, 02:40 PM
DILEMNA. Never even heard of the other spelling.

Johnny Footstool
02-28-2012, 04:26 PM
Microsoft auto-corrects "dilemna" to "dilemma."

Merriam-Webster goes with "dilemma," stemming from Greek and Latin roots.


Origin of DILEMMA
Late Latin, from Late Greek dilēmmat-, dilēmma, probably back-formation from Greek dilēmmatos involving two assumptions, from di- + lēmmat-, lēmma assumption — more at lemma

Dilemna is probably a corruption.

Danny Serafini
02-28-2012, 04:30 PM
I've never seen dilemna in my life before I clicked on this thread. It just looks like a misspelling, I don't know how that would've even come about.

RichRed
02-28-2012, 05:10 PM
We're about the same age, ORH, and I can honestly say this is the first time I've ever heard of the "dilemna" spelling. Learn something new every day.

I asked my brother and he said he's only ever known it to be spelled "dilemna." How can that be? We grew up in the same house and went to the same schools. Utterly perplexing, except it supports my argument that he usually doesn't know what he's talking about.

dougdirt
02-28-2012, 05:24 PM
http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMzg3MDUwMTI1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzY0NDIxNA@@._ V1._SY317_CR0,0,214,317_.jpg

Sea Ray
02-28-2012, 05:27 PM
I've never heard of it with an "n".

I have a story of my own regarding the word "donut". I missed that on a spelling test in 7th grade and after I complained to the teacher she said that the correct spelling was "doughnut". Nowadays I do not get the red line under the word donut so when did that change? Apparently after 7 th grade or else I want my grade adjusted accordingly!

JaxRed
02-28-2012, 05:30 PM
Older than ORH, and never heard of dilemna. Always dilemma

texasdave
02-28-2012, 06:01 PM
From the Civil Service Spelling Book:

http://www.gingersoftware.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/dilemna-300x194.jpg

Sea Ray
02-28-2012, 06:11 PM
I was taught to spell the word dilemna, spelled it that way all the way through grade school, high school, and college, and never was corrected by a teacher or professor. Now every time I type it I get the dreaded red underline.

Finally today I decided to check on this and I find out that there's a rather intense debate in some circles about the proper spelling of this word. People my age and older seem to have been taught dilemna and now there are a lot of people insisting that the proper spelling is dilemma, which of course doesn't produce the red line on the computer. What's the consensus here? I learned grammar in the 70s and I'm a bit of a curmudgeon. I still won't use they as a singular pronoun even though it's becoming more common.

Was it outside of this country? This comes from Wiki:


The incorrect spelling dilemna is often seen in common usage. It appears to have been taught in many areas of the United States and all over the world, including (but not limited to) France, England, Jamaica and Australia.[1][2][3] There is no prima facie reason for this substitution error and there is no erroneous parallel to be found with the word lemma, from which dilemma derives.

Roy Tucker
02-28-2012, 06:38 PM
I've never heard of it with an "n".

I have a story of my own regarding the word "donut". I missed that on a spelling test in 7th grade and after I complained to the teacher she said that the correct spelling was "doughnut". Nowadays I do not get the red line under the word donut so when did that change? Apparently after 7 th grade or else I want my grade adjusted accordingly!

I have a 7th grade doughnut story too...

On the chalkboard menu ouside the cafeteria, they had "doughnuts" hand-written on the list. Some adolescent genius took his finger and erased the "u" and "h" from the word. Took the principal about 20 minutes to find out the semi-naughty word.

I know its a stupid story, but it was quite hilarious at the time to us geeky nerds.

(and yes, it was a real slate chalkboard written on with chalk, I am from the stone age)

Dom Heffner
02-28-2012, 08:54 PM
I did not realize forehead could be pronounced "for-ed." Had a teacher tell me that was the only way to pronounce it. Last time I looked, the dictionary allowed for both...but have never, ever heard anyone say it that way.

Spitball
02-28-2012, 10:24 PM
I have seen dilemna but believe dilemma is far more common and universally accepted.

What about alright and all right? I see alright all the time, but it is not really a word.

Johnny Footstool
02-29-2012, 12:31 AM
I did not realize forehead could be pronounced "for-ed." Had a teacher tell me that was the only way to pronounce it. Last time I looked, the dictionary allowed for both...but have never, ever heard anyone say it that way.


There Was a Little Girl

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Dom Heffner
02-29-2012, 07:52 AM
Miss Livengood would be proud Johnny!!!!

lidspinner
02-29-2012, 08:18 AM
I am stupid is all I will say....I grew up in the late 70s-80s and I keep getting caught up in my kids grammar circle of errors....I constantly want to spell words they way they sound instead of the way they are supposed to be spelled....the texting lingo is what I am referring to.....I was sending a email to a guy at work and my dumb but was typing stuff like

Gonna
ppl
lol
call u back
txt me ltr
I was up 2 L8 last nite

I vomit at times when I proof read my emails and my writings....I am being pulled into this vortex of crap and I cannot stop it at times. there will be a day when schools will teach kids texting lingo....you watch...I wish there was a way to teach us parents the texting lingo...I grabbed my daughters phone and her text messages seemed like they were in a foreign langauge.....and the sad part was I almost could understand it, well some of it.

RichRed
02-29-2012, 09:46 AM
I did not realize forehead could be pronounced "for-ed." Had a teacher tell me that was the only way to pronounce it. Last time I looked, the dictionary allowed for both...but have never, ever heard anyone say it that way.

My parents always pronounced it "for-ed." Maybe they were big Longfellow fans.

My 6th grade English teacher said the word "kept" could be pronounced either "kept" or "kep." "Kep" never seemed right to me.

OldRightHander
02-29-2012, 10:04 AM
I'm being kind of stubborn with all the new lingo and refusing to give in and use it. I find myself almost rebelling against it in a way. It's almost my new personal crusade to use proper spelling and punctuation and not give in to certain grammatical changes that I see as being done out of political correctness. (they being used as a singular pronoun to avoid any gender reference, etc.) That's why it's been ticking me off with this whole issue of how to spell dilemna. I have a very black and white view of grammar and I don't handle grey areas too well.

texasdave
02-29-2012, 10:14 AM
An expression that bothers me is when people say, "You've got another thing coming."
That doesn't even make sense in the context that the expression is normally used. If you think something then, 'You have another think coming'. Because what you are thinking is obviously incorrect.

RichRed
02-29-2012, 10:34 AM
Click this link for hours of exciting English usage geekdom.

http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/errors.html

Here's what it says about the "dilemma" dilemma:


“Dilemna” is a common misspelling of “dilemma.”

wolfboy
02-29-2012, 01:38 PM
I've always spelled it "dilemna"

RedFanAlways1966
02-29-2012, 04:22 PM
An expression that bothers me is when people say, "You've got another thing coming."

Heavy metal rockers Judas Priest might call it "Breaking the Law".... in a grammatical sense. They might also call it a money maker.

traderumor
03-02-2012, 02:18 PM
It took the internet for me to learn that there were people who thought "mute point" and "moot point" were the same thing.

My doughnut story is from a foreign Stats professor I had at OSU. He said when he was learning English, he called doughnuts "duff-nuts" because of the phonetics of "rough" and "tough" :) I still jokingly call them that today.