For example if someone said unliterate instead of illiterate or discluded instead of excluded? Is there a word for this kind of grammatical error?

  • 1
    Pseudography comes close.
    – vickyace
    Jun 10, 2016 at 8:51
  • 2
    I don't know a specific word for it. It's not a grammatical error, it's a lexical one: simply using a word that doesn't exist.
    – Colin Fine
    Jun 10, 2016 at 11:08
  • 1
    Me fail English? That's unpossible! (Ralph Wiggum) Jun 10, 2016 at 12:29
  • Do you mean a type of word which looks like it should be correct, logically, according to rules used with other words? If so then you should explain that in your question. Jun 10, 2016 at 12:30
  • 3
    Btw, this is relevant reading, while not the same question: english.stackexchange.com/questions/292531/… eg In general, words take un- when they are of English (Germanic) origin and in- if they come from Latin. (The forms im-, il-, and ir- are variations on in-.) ... the battle between in- and un- has been going on for centuries ... As an example, for several centuries English had both inability and unability, but the latter disappeared in the eighteenth century for no very obvious reason. Jun 10, 2016 at 12:31

1 Answer 1


Some sources distinguish between "barbarisms" and "solecisms", using the former for errors in morphology and the latter for errors in syntax. So, using a nonstandard prefix would be a "barbarism". Insofar as "barbarism" is especially used for intrusions of one language into another, unliterate is a pretty good example (since Latinate roots usually prefer Latinate prefixes like in-, though there are plenty of exceptions like unstable).

Incidentally, disclude is a complicated example, because it used to be standard, and in fact, it's directly borrowed from a regularly-formed word attested in Classical Latin. The Oxford English Dictionary notes only that the relevant English sense is "Somewhat rare and nonstandard since 18th cent." So, be kind to the barbarists; someday your usages, too, will have passed.

  • You. I like you.
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 5, 2016 at 22:09

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