During what period in the history of the English language was diahrrœa most used as a variant spelling of the word? Whence did this spelling originate? I would like to contrive to play this word in Scrabble as the 'hrr' sequence is generally not found in any words (to my knowledge), so the time period will help me locate dictionaries likely to contain it.

Sources: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/101002664

https://english.stackexchange.com/a/132919/113307 <-- quote with same spelling found in many places

similar spelling also with 'hrr':


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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is based upon a misconception or erroneously presented. Apr 1, 2017 at 22:15
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    Etymonline says that diarrhoea is from Late Latin and is also a dialectal variant of diarrhea (British English, typically, as American English tends to not retain that oe spelling from Latin). But diahrrœa seems to be incorrect.
    – Kasenjo
    Apr 1, 2017 at 22:21
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    @davidlol The point is that it is a frequently misspelled word. The example you give is clearly that. Though I did rather enjoy the anecdote about the parent and her child's "dire rear".
    – WS2
    Apr 2, 2017 at 7:10
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    @thedarkwanderer That spelling is certainly not in the OED which is my own authority on English as spoken around the world.
    – WS2
    Apr 2, 2017 at 7:42
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    @davidlol: I don't think it is such an odd mistake to make. The "h" doesn't correspond to any pronounced sound, and the "rh" digraph (or "rrh" trigraph) is rare, generally only occurring in words of Greek origin. People know there should be an "h" in the word but might accidentally put it in the wrong place. It's like the common misspelling of "Gandhi" as "Ghandi".
    – herisson
    Apr 2, 2017 at 19:29

2 Answers 2


"diahrrœa" is certainly a misspelling. "diarrhœa" or "diarrhoea" is the standard British spelling; there is no real difference between them as use of the ligature "œ" is only an aesthetic choice and not a different spelling. "diarrhea" is the standard American spelling.

Not only is "diarrhea" spelled with an "rh" rather than "hr" but so is every word containing the suffix "-rrhea" (Greek for "flow), of which there are quite a few: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/words-that-end-in-rrhea

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    please see my edit to include sources. I would like more indication that this is a misspelling, if this is still your answer. Apr 2, 2017 at 7:05
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    "diahrrea" or any variation thereof is a misspelling, so of course that's still my answer. Although I don't play Scrabble, it seems to me that it would be dishonest to use a misspelling and then provide dated and obscure sources that use that particular misspelling to back up your claim of a "variant" spelling. Just about every conceivable misspelling can be found in print. This one is no different. Apr 10, 2017 at 4:42

Against all my expectations, the “variant” spelling, diahrroea, has a long history on both sides of the pond.

  1. The Thomsonian Recorder, Volume 2. Printed in Columbus (Ohio), in 1834

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I have said that in almost every instance, Cholera is attended by diahrroea, of a peculiar character no doubt, because arising from a peculiar cause: nevertheless, easily manageable by an intelligent physician;

  1. Canine Pathology: Or a Description of the Diseases of Dogs. Third edition, printed in London, 1832.

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When mercurial preparations are licked by dogs they are apt to occasion violent and dangerous diahrroea.

  1. Report on Epidemic Cholera and Yellow Fever in the Army of the United States, During The Year 1867

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SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith my monthly report of sick and wounded at this post during the month of June, 1867; also the special report upon epidemic cholera required by Circular No 3, dated Surgeon General's Office, April 20, 1867.
Although diahrroea and dysentery have been quite prevalent during the latter part of the month, but two cases of cholera have occurred.

  1. Royle's Manual of Materia Medica and Therapeutics Sixth Edition. Printed in London, 1876, written by John Harley, M.D.

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This is a warming stomachic tonic or aperient, useful in diahrroea or dyspepsia with flatulent colic.

Despite the evidence which suggests otherwise, the spelling variant diahrrœa or diahrroea is not recorded in any dictionary online. In Wiktionary, the (mis)spelling only occurs in a citation, in the entry for restrict

After suffering diahrroea, the patient was restricted to a diet of rice, cold meat, and yoghurt.‎

It also occurs in a Wikipedia discussion on Homeopathy, dated June, 2012. But on their page dedicated to the illness itself, Wikipedia lists only two spellings: Diarrhea, also spelled diarrhoea,

  • Your citations are from 1834-1876. Is that a high point in usage or just arbitrary? That's a pretty narrow range, which is a good thing for my dictionary search if it's representative. Apr 2, 2017 at 17:18
  • @thedarkwanderer there were many more citations and sources I could have cited, but I limited my focus on the 19th century, and I did not find that spelling in any dictionary online, or recorded by Google Books.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 2, 2017 at 18:17
  • The Canine Pathology book has one result for a search for "diahrroea," and 24 results for a search for "diarrhoea." I think this strongly indicates the "variant" spelling with "hrr" was a mistake, not an intentional spelling. Report on Epidemic Cholera has one result for the "hrr" spelling, vs. 68 for the "rrh" spelling. Royle's has one result with "hrr," vs. 31 with "rrh."
    – herisson
    Apr 2, 2017 at 19:20
  • I think it is misleading to say "the 'variant' spelling, diahrroea, has a long history on both sides of the pond." As far as I can tell, it only has the same kind of "long history" as any other easily-made spelling mistake. I don't see any evidence that the word was ever intentionally spelled "diahrroea" instead of ""diarrhoea" in any past published text.
    – herisson
    Apr 2, 2017 at 19:21
  • @sumelic The word "variant" is placed between inverted commas, and at the end I clearly state I did not find any dictionary references that confirmed the spelling. My surprise was finding that the misspelling occurred on both sides of the atlantic, as I have always heard the British spelling diarrhoea, is quite different from the American one. And the OP's example contains the -(h)oea suffix.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 2, 2017 at 19:28

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