Misspelled or Misspelt?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Misspelled" and "Misspelt"?

"Misspelled" and "misspelt" are both written with a double "s." (The first "s" is from the prefix "mis," and the second is from the root word "spell.")

If you're unsure whether to use "misspelled" and "misspelt," use "misspelled."
(If you're following UK writing conventions, you can use "misspelt," but it has been less popular than "misspelled" since the mid-1970s.)
misspelled or misspelt?

More about Misspelled and Misspelt

Somewhat ironically, the verb "to misspell" is commonly misspelled. The first point to note is that it is written with a double "s." In other words:
  • mispell , mispelled , mispelt
  • misspell , misspelled , misspelt
Also of note, "misspell" is one of those verbs with both an irregular form and a regular form. This means the past tense and the past participle can be written as either "misspelled" or "misspelt."
VerbPast SimplePast Participle
misspellmisspelled OR misspeltmisspelled OR misspelt

Americans Demand "Misspelled"

In America, "misspelled" dominates. The use of "misspelt" as the past tense or past participle of "to spell" is considered a spelling mistake by most Americans.

Brits Will Accept "Misspelled" or "Misspelt"

Outside America, "misspelled" has been more popular than "misspelt" since the mid-1970s. (Here is evidence from Google's Ngram viewer.) In the UK, both "misspelled" and "misspelt" are accepted.

Spelled and Spelt

It's the same with "spelled" and "spelt." Americans demand "spelled," but Brits will accept either.

Verbs with Irregular and Regular Forms

The following verbs (like "to spell") have both regular and irregular forms:
VerbPast SimplePast Participle
burnburned OR burntburned OR burnt
dreamdreamed OR dreamtdreamed OR dreamt
learnlearned OR learntlearned OR learnt
smellsmelled OR smeltsmelled OR smelt
Read also about "hung" and "hanged."

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See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? Ms., Miss, or Mrs? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? dived and dove e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? hanged and hung imply or infer? its or it's? learned and learnt material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are regular verbs? What are regular verbs? What is the past tense? What are past participles? List of easily confused words

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