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I sometimes see the word volumn, and I'm not sure if it's simply a spelling error for volume. I am wondering if it's actually correct. Possible angles to consider:

  • Is volumn used frequently enough that it's become a valid alternative spelling? In other words, is it widely understood?
  • Is volumn included in dictionaries? I can't find it in any online dictionary, but perhaps it could be found in a historical, dialectal, technical, or print one?
  • Is it defensible from an etymological perspective?
  • Was it once more common?
  • Does it just mean 'volume,' or does it have a separate meaning?
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    If you can't find it in any dictionary, then there is no justification to use it and you can safely assume it's a mistake.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 7:00
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    3,220,000 results for volumn on GoogleSearch; 27,600 results for GoogleBooks.
    – Kris
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 7:39
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    @Kris: Did you find any instances among those millions (or thousands) of search results that would lead you to believe this is a correct word for the 21st century? If so, I'd like to know. I think it's an antiquated spelling at best. Raw totals don't tell the full answer.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 10:24
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    To post an answer, please vote to re-open. Invalid edits will be rolled back.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 15:47
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    This could be an interesting question. Instances of volumn in English appear at least as early as 1550 (in William Wats's translation of St. Augustine's Confessions), and multiple instances appear in more recent Google Books search results, such as these (more than 300) for the period 1915–1985. Although some may be typographical errors, many appear to be intentional (given that they appear multiple times), perhaps influenced by the spelling of column. I would reopen this question.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Dec 29, 2023 at 21:22

1 Answer 1

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I've never heard of "volumn," and a few searches turn up nothing except several people who claim to have seen this word in use. On Newsgorilla a couple of researchers took on the task of finding it in the OED, but they couldn't. I think it's safe to say not a proper word.

It's quite possible for Google books to return instances of a word that are really typos or scanning errors, like this:

Google Books title: "Written Education Induced Neurosis: A True Story Volumn XIV"; In text: "Volume XIV"

although sometimes the scanned book unmistakeably contains the word in question:

One page with "Volumn both cylinders" and three instances of "volumn cylinders"

That latter example, though, was published in 1906. If volumn was once an acceptable alternate spelling of volume, it appears to have gone out of vogue, to the point where the dictionary editors don't want to acknowledge it in current editions.

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