Consider the following sentence from this web page (a review of an episode from the TV show "How I Met Your Mother").

"The focus on Robin really aloud her character to get the kind of attention she has been missing for many a season."

Clearly, "aloud" should be "allowed". So, the writer has substituted one word with another that sounds the same when spoken, but is spelled differently and has a different meaning. What kind of spelling mistake do this call this in English?

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, Kristina Lopez, anongoodnurse, choster, Ronan Sep 4 '14 at 8:29

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  • Which word do you think is misspelt? Which way should it be spelt? Have you checked both spellings in a dictionary? What do you notice? – Edwin Ashworth Sep 3 '14 at 16:50
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    @EdwinAshworth You're kidding, right? For a minute there, I thought I was back in kindergarten. – Faheem Mitha Sep 3 '14 at 16:58
  • @Frank I'm going to be mean and point out that "does spelled" should be "does spell". Feel free to point out errors on my part. – Faheem Mitha Sep 3 '14 at 17:01
  • Thanks - brain fart ! I've made it an answer, so I'll remove the comment which will hide my mistake ! – Frank Sep 3 '14 at 17:03
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    I'm trying to get you to ask ask your question in a way that corresponds with the site guidelines for good questions. One would expect questions about homophones to be better framed ('Is there a name for two words that are pronounced identically but spelt differently?). Then you'd find that it has been asked before. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 3 '14 at 17:05

Words that sound the same but have different meanings, such as aloud en allowed, are called homophones or, provided the spelling is different, heterographs.

So one could call a spelling mistake where a word is erroneously substituted by a heterograph, a homophonic or heterographic spelling error/mistake. Neither term has many Google hits, though.

  • I hope this is not an idiotic question, but you wrote: "provided the spelling is different". If they were spelt the same, how would you know the difference? Anyway, "heterograph" seems like a reasonable match, though I do not recall having heard that term before. – Faheem Mitha Sep 3 '14 at 17:07
  • Non-heterographic (homographic) homophones exist. For example, rose (the flower) and rose (the past tense of "rise"). Of course, since the spelling is the same, you cannot erroneously substitute their spelling. So, while non-heterographic homophones exist, non-heterographic homophonic spelling errors do not. Therefor "homophonic spelling error" and "heterographic spelling error" are fully interchangeable. The first seems to have more Google hits. – Adhemar Sep 4 '14 at 8:42

According to this list http://oxforddictionaries.com/words/common-misspellings it's not a 'common misspelling' but it is in this list http://oxforddictionaries.com/words/commonly-confused-words making it a 'commonly confused word'.

"Common misspellings". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press, n.d. Web. 04 September 2014. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/common-misspellings.

"Commonly confused words". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press, n.d. Web. 04 September 2014. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/commonly-confused-words.

Notably, in the original, the author does spell allowed correctly later on in the text, so they do know the correct spelling. I'd go for brain fart.

Brain fart. (2014, August 31). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:01, September 3, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Brain_fart&oldid=623528981

A brain fart (may be jocularly derived from "brainstorm")[1] is slang for a special kind of abnormal brain activity which results in human error while performing a repetitive task,[2][3] or more generally denoting a degree of mental laxity or any task-related forgetfulness, such as forgetting how to hold a fork. ...

  • -1 We do not post links without quotations. – trlkly Sep 4 '14 at 5:11
  • @trlkly That's not what ELU moderators say here meta.english.stackexchange.com/a/5196/71783 but in case there is any doubt that 'common mistakes' and 'commonly confused words' are direct quotes I have added a citation for both. – Frank Sep 4 '14 at 6:37

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