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Jun 3, 2013
This week's theme
Words that appear to be misspellings

This week's words
calyculus
swoopstake
theocrasy
agrement
jargoon

Acetabularia calyculus
Acetabularia calyculus

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

The most misspelled word in the English language has to be 'referrer'. At least on the Internet where the misspelling 'referer' occurs 25% more often than the correct spelling. For this we can thank a computer scientist named Phillip Hallam-Baker.

In the early 1990s, when specifications for the Web were being hammered out, Hallam-Baker suggested a 'referer' value to keep track of what Web page a user clicked on to land on another Web page. The spelling has stuck since then, but let's not be too hard on him.

English spelling has never been consistent, which explains the prevalence of spelling bee competitions in English, unheard of in other languages. For example British English uses 'traveller', while American English goes with 'traveler'. But even the doubling of consonants is not consistent. Consider British 'enrol' vs. American 'enroll', while both languages go with 'comforter' and 'transmitter'.

No wonder engineers feel more at ease with computer languages over human languages. This week's words appear to be misspelled, but aren't. Watch out -- your spellchecker is going to go ballistic.

calyculus or caliculus

PRONUNCIATION:
(kuh-LIK-yuh-luhs)

MEANING:
noun: A cup-shaped structure.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek kalyx (cup, covering).

USAGE:
"It's attached over the whole inner surface of calyculus."
Queensland Naturalist (Australia); 1991.

See more usage examples of calyculus in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Every increased possession loads us with new weariness. -John Ruskin, author, art critic, and social reformer (1819-1900)

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