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I just noticed that the word in the movie title The Pursuit of Happyness is spelled with a y instead of an i. But my spell checker highlights "happyness" as a mistake. Why is it spelled differently here? Shouldn't it be happiness?

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closed as off topic by FumbleFingers, MετάEd, Brian Hooper, Kris, Kristina Lopez Jun 19 '13 at 17:48

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My spell checker highlights "happyness" as a mistake by the way. – dada123 Mar 8 '11 at 9:49
It's obvious if you watch the movie. (Great movie btw!) I guess the title should have "(sic)" at the end of it. – Urbycoz Oct 12 '12 at 9:24
up vote 16 down vote accepted

From the article on Chris Gardner on ABC's site:

The word "happiness" in the title is deliberately misspelled, just as it was on the wall of a day care center where Gardner once sought care for his young son, Chris Jr., during some of his worst days." Chris (Will Smith) even points out the misspelling to the Chinese care-giver that the mural decorating his son's daycare is spelled incorrectly. Chris wanted to make sure that his son was taught things the correct way, so that he could grow up to be an educated man and make something great of himself. Chris "took offense" to the fact that the world happiness was spelled wrong on the wall and became irritated by it. But the word comes to signify Chris' own pursuit of happiness.

To quote from the movie:

It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it. No matter what. How did he know that?


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re: pursuit - the word means something slightly different to chase in the context of the DoI. It really means being able to conduct in happiness or to partake in happiness (much like we talk about leisurely pursuits). – HorusKol Mar 8 '11 at 22:37
Or, it was a marketing tactic backed up by an apocryphal anecdote. – Merk Oct 12 '12 at 4:59
There is no penalty for spelling funny, after one leaves school. So people spell whatever way they want to. They don't have to have a reason. – John Lawler Jun 18 '13 at 22:54
@JohnLawler: While I understand your sentiment, there is a considerable difference between 'no official penalty' and 'no penalty'. – TimLymington Jun 18 '13 at 23:00
What is the evidence that "pursuit" doesn't mean "chase" in the Declaration of Independence? I ask because it seems strange (to me) to say that we are endowed by our Creator with an inalienable right to happiness (or to happy pursuits). – Andreas Blass Jun 19 '13 at 0:50

It is happiness, in the same way it is luckiness.

Happyness is a typo, whatever it is intentional (e.g., to make fun of somebody who wrote that word) or not.

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