Is there a term or concept that describes instances where an author/speaker intentionally or knowingly uses wrong spelling/pronunciation/grammar because it better conveys the intended meaning, and is therefore used by the author/speaker in place of the correct spelling/pronunciation/grammar, exclusive of instances of the author simply quoting someone else? (e.g. a character who uses incorrect grammar wouldn't count, since that was (presumably) intended by the author).

Here are some examples I have encountered in the wild (I'm sure there are better ones):


If you’re completely new to SQL you might start with this codeacademy tutorial.

This misspelling of codecademy as codeacademy is arguably slightly more readable, especially to those who haven't heard of it before.


Waters Edge

This should have a possessive apostrophe, but the name doesn't use one, probably because it becomes less catchy, less easy to write etc.


I've seen this occur where it makes communication more practical, for example, during a short interaction (especially when at some nexus of travellers all with different accents/pronunciations), if someone mispronounces a word, it is sometimes easier to use their mispronunciation than to risk them not knowing what is meant when the correct pronunciation is used. In this case, the first instance is an unintentional mispronunciation (so it's not relevant to this question), but the second mispronunciation is intentional.

Other notes

I came across this quote from Oscar Wilde's letters to the St. James's Gazette:

Now, as regards grammar, I hold that, in prose at any rate, correctness should always be subordinate to artistic effect and musical cadence; and any peculiarities of syntax that may occur in Dorian Gray are deliberately intended, and are introduced to show the value of the artistic theory in question.

So Wilde appears to say he would have no issues deliberately making grammatical inaccuracies.

Is there a term to describe such instances where intentionally incorrect spelling/pronunciation/grammar are preferred by the author to the correct ones?

  • 1
    I was guessing register but the that doesn't sound convincing enough.
    – user405662
    Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 3:48
  • 2
    Are you looking for something like artistic license?
    – Jim
    Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 4:18
  • 1
    Sensational spelling for the spelling example. Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 5:21
  • 2
    This is a good question that may reveal a gap in our vocabulary. We have malapropism for unintentional and comic inaccuracies, catachresis for poetic and inappropriate constructs used for rhetoric effect, but I can think of nothing to fit the question.
    – Anton
    Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 6:33
  • 2
    Poetic license is, however, hardly apt for something like the codeacademy example.
    – jsw29
    Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 17:50

1 Answer 1


The word metaplasm or effective spelling conveys the meaning you're looking for

Metaplasm is a rhetorical term for any alteration in the form of a word, in particular, the addition, subtraction, or substitution of letters or sounds.

Or this definition

A general term for orthographical figures (changes to the spelling of words). This includes alteration of the letters or syllables in single words, including additions, omissions, inversions, and substitutions.

Such changes are considered conscious choices made by the artist or orator for the sake of eloquence or meter, in contrast to the same kinds of changes done accidentally and discussed by grammarians as vices

The word by itself simply indicates any change to the structure, but as a literary form it's intentional, and for the purposes of achieving some effect such as making the meaning clearer.


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