Related: "Whereäs" as an alternative spelling of "whereas"

Does anyone write "no-one" as "noöne", with the diaeresis (double-dot) serving to separate the syllables?

  • 15
    Short answer: No, no one does that.
    – Jim
    Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 19:54
  • 4
    @Drew It depends. Diaereses are becoming more and more rare in English, but some words it's not as infrequent as others. In my opinion, 'naïve' is more common than 'coöperate' is way more common than 'noöne'.
    – Mitch
    Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 21:36
  • 3
    Lacoön used to, but then the snakes came and got him.
    – bmargulies
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 0:22
  • 3
    I would imagine the New Yorker does. They love them some diaereses. :)
    – cHao
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 6:34
  • 9
    I prefer the short answer, noöne does that.
    – Jodrell
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 10:34

2 Answers 2


Whenever you find a computer spell-checking program does not know how to spell something, your best first assumption is that the program is an idiot. You will usually be right this way.

Including in this case: Wiktionary lists noöne as an “obsolete” spelling of no one.

Did people use it? Yes.

Do people use it? Yes, again!

Morover, a simple Google search would have revealed these answers and many more. One recent published example is from Roger Clarke’s English prose translation of Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, published in 2011 under ISBN 978-1-84749-160-2:

No there is noöne else in the world I could have surrendered my heart to. It is decreed by the highest authority, it is the call of Heaven: I am yours, Eugene.


After pawing through general Google results, I really do get the feeling that the archaic noöne spelling is experiencing some strange kind of orthographic renaissance, but for what reason, I have no idea. Most of the general online results are 21st century ones. I can’t find many from the late 20th century.

I see three groupings of letters used with diacritics in English:

  1. It may simply be that people are becoming more familiar with how to use keyboard shortcuts for diacriticking words in English like Zoë, Chloë, Noël, café, coöperate, reëlect, learnèd, zoölogy, oöcyte, which are all perceived to be “native-English” words, whatever their origin.
  2. Those are different from “unassimilated” imports like Ångström, Renée, José, naïve, façade, résumé, jalapeño, El Niño, Curaçao, São Paulo, Shijō, Ceaușescu, etc.
  3. The restoration of diacritics to words long spelt without them in English, words like noöne, mosaïc, hôtel, rôle, châteaux, and so on, might be something else, some sord of fad perhaps. It almost seems like it might be such on Stack Exchange Chat, where noöne is strangely common.

However, I don’t see us ever going back to adding actual Ænglisc letters like æsc, eth, thorn, yogh, or wynn back into current orthography. I have seen nothing at all like this happening the way we may be seeing occur with diacritics, where people freed of the tyranny of the typewriter can once again write whatever they please.

  • 2
    Wow, Google's fast. It's already picked up on this question. :)
    – Scimonster
    Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 20:10
  • @Scimonster Yes, they index us within a few minutes. Note that I have a published reference for you now, too.
    – tchrist
    Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 20:27
  • And then there are cases like preëmpt, which exist though they shouldn't… (Also, when you say Noël, are you talking about people called Noel trematising their name? Or about the fête?) Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 22:25
  • Pre-empt is a funny one in that outside of caveat emptor, English has no notion of empt as anything, let alone an early buy or some such, so there is no word to confuse it with or to separate it from. But it is still pronounced in hiatus. Apparently preëmpt the verb recently backformed from pre-emption from putative *præemptiōnem < *præemĕre forms in the Middle Ages. But the OED has a citation for prëemptioners even. As for Noël, yes, it’s the person-name, like Noël Coward. There even appear to be girl-Noëlles, which is half-strange.
    – tchrist
    Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 23:29
  • 1
    @JanusBahsJacquet I remember now where this came up before. It was whether zoologist had a vowel in its first syllable like the one in Joe (or in Zoë) or whether it was like the one in zoo. To my jaded and archaizing ear, it sounds like a zoo-ologist should be a student of zoos not of animals. :)
    – tchrist
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 18:37

The fiercest defender of diereses I know of in the professional world is The New Yorker magazine, which still spells it "coöperate," and even they don't spell it "noöne."

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