According to Dictionary.com:

mis·spell·ing   [mis-spel-ing]

  1. the act of spelling incorrectly: Note his misspelling of that word.
  2. an incorrectly spelled word: You have three misspellings in your letter.

Some people have told me that as long as the letters actually create a word, it's spelled correctly. This doesn't make sense to me, though. The example I'm using occurred in a recent Stack Exchange blog. They had accidentally typed in "word" instead of "world." I pointed out that "world" was misspelled (missing an "l") and another person said that it was technically not misspelled.

So when do we consider a word misspelled?
Only when our computer puts a red zig-zag line below it?

Isn't the word "word" still considered misspelled since it was meant to be "world" and it is not spelled correctly, and just happens to become a different word when this particular misspelling occurs? Is there perhaps a better definition of the word "misspelling" out there somewhere that can more accurately represent what exactly the word means?

Note: This isn't meant to be subjective. I'm hoping for factual information that supports it one way or the other.

closed as too localized by FumbleFingers, Matt E. Эллен, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, RegDwigнt Mar 28 '12 at 21:03

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  • 4
    I think your question correctly insinuates that this is a case of technology affecting our view of language. I think that "word" where "world" was meant is a misspelling. – Kazark Mar 28 '12 at 20:11
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    I'm not sure what the question here is. Clearly, "word" is not the correct spelling of "world", thus it is a misspelling thereof. Whether or not it happens to be the correct spelling of another word, is completely irrelevant. "World" is misspelled whenever it is not spelled "world". – RegDwigнt Mar 28 '12 at 21:03
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    @RegDwightѬſ道: But there are clearly people who disagree with this statement, which is why I asked. I could understand the reasoning behind closing this as not constructive if it became argumentative, but I failed to see how it's too localized. – animuson Mar 28 '12 at 21:10

The word you're looking for is "typo".

  • I think this is the distinction. A misspelling happens out of ignorance, while a typo happens out of negligence. – Jon Purdy Mar 30 '12 at 16:58
  • I'd say that a typo is just one cause of the symptom which is misspelling. If you see only the result, it's a guess whether it's caused by carelessness or by ignorance. – Toby Speight May 22 '17 at 16:35

In your example, word isn't necessarily a misspelling. It could be that the author thinks word means world (a mistake, but not a misspelling), or is in fact saying something other than what you expected, and intended to type word. However, if he intended world and typed word, it's a misspelling: nowhere in the definition is there a phrase 'except where this creates a valid word in English'.

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