I used "eery" yesterday in a text and was corrected jokingly by my correspondent to "eerie." Looking at it after the fact, neither 'looks' right to me and both get through auto-correct with no red underline. Some cursory googling showed that both are at least technically correct, but I'm curious as to preferred or standard usage. I read a lot and I guess I've rarely seen the word in print, and even then it was probably the adverb form eerily.

So, beyond actual correctness, are both equally acceptable? Regional differences?

  • 6
    dictionary.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eery indicates they are equivalent but eerie is preferred (and I'll comment that I've never encountered eery, ever).
    – Andrew Leach
    Sep 7, 2012 at 16:41
  • 1
    Neither have I. I would never use "eery". It strikes me as one of those misspellings that the dictionary editors decided to include because it exists now, even if it didn't before. Sep 7, 2012 at 16:51
  • Can someone clarify the downvotes? Thank you.
    – TetonSig
    Sep 11, 2012 at 9:44
  • I must say, I have used EERY in scrabble.
    – abhi
    Dec 19, 2013 at 13:57

4 Answers 4


As a well-read native speaker, I've never encountered "eery" until this question. Despite its apparent inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary I would always change it to "eerie" in (for example) an editing job.

So to answer your question very literally, no, they're not equally acceptable, though they may both pass the minimum bar of being correct at all. Quite likely, the more formal the writing, the less acceptable is the "eery" spelling.


The Oxford English Dictionary gives both.

It’s of Scottish origin, and probably derived from ‘argh’, an adjective now limited to regional dialects, and meaning ‘cowardly, pusillanimous, timid, fearful’ and also ‘inert, sluggish, lazy, slow, loath, reluctant’. ‘Eerie’ and ‘eery’ are just two of the word’s historical spellings, of which the earliest is ‘hery’.

'Eery' has been in use since the seventeenth century. ‘Eerie’ does now seem to be by far the most common.

  • 1
    +1 Many outside of the UK don't have access to the online OED (far removed from a library or university, cannot or will not pay the £215.00+ yearly subscription). Also, I'm not sure how aggressive OUP is in defending their IP (e.g. 2.3.3) or I would ask you to quote the relevant portions of the entry (helps avoid link rot, as well). I don't know an alternative, but the link is useful in that one can assume the OED answers the question even if one can't confirm it directly.
    – Zairja
    Sep 7, 2012 at 17:04

Actually, as an English pro, I know that eery is actually an alternate spelling of the word eerie. Eerie looks more correct, but they are equal in their grammatical correctness!

  • 1
    Of course they are equal in their grammatical correctness—spelling has nothing to do with grammar, so their grammatical correctness, as influenced by spelling, is equally zero. Jul 27, 2014 at 16:07

The "eery" spelling is, I note after frequent use, given as the preferred alternative by most anagram generation sites when the entered letters do not allow "eerie". Presumably, therefore, "eery" is considered to be perfectly correct as far as the organisers of those sites are concerned. However, I would hesitate to use that spelling when writing carefully, as I have to say that I find it somewhat jarring.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.