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.

  • 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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