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Misspell or Mispell—Which Is Correct?

  • Misspell is the correct spelling.
  • Mispell is a common error.
  • The past tense of misspell is misspelled in American English. However, in other varieties of English, misspelt is also acceptable.

One way of improving the accuracy of your writing is to spell things right. In fact, the word that means to spell things wrong is an important word to spell correctly. Which is correct—misspell or mispell?

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Misspell vs. mispell: Which spelling is right?

Mis- is a prefix that means “wrong” or “mistaken.” When you add it to the verb spell, it means to spell incorrectly. The correct spelling is misspell. Be careful not to omit the second s in derivative forms, such as misspelling and misspells.

In a spelling bee, be careful not to misspell words with silent letters.

The hiring manager hates when applicants mispell her name in cover letters.

Misspell examples

The “losers” in memory competitions, this research suggests, stumble not because they remember too little. They have studied tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of words, and often they are familiar with the word they ultimately misspell .
Benedict Carey, How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens

An unseen mother couldn’t go for long walks with you on summer evenings, drawing the names of trees and flowers from her seemingly infinite knowledge of nature; or help you with your homework, the familiar scent of her in your nostrils as she leaned in to correct a misspelling or puzzle over the meaning of an unfamiliar poem.
John Connolly, The Book of Lost Things

Misspelled or misspelt?

If you live in the United States, the past tense form of spell is spelled. Elsewhere, you might see a variant past form—spelt. The distinction also applies to misspell. You might see misspelled or misspelt depending on the author or intended audience. This is one of the differences between British and American English.

“Well,” said Stuart, “a misspelled word is an abomination in the sight of everyone.”
E.B. White, Stuart Little

He says his family keep him grounded—his dad sent him a review where his name was misspelt with the message “this Charlie Stump’s doing well”, and when he gets a night off on a Sunday he’s happy watching Planet Earth II on the TV.
Evening Standard

Misspell is the correct spelling. However, there are two ways to make the past form of misspellmisspelled or misspelt. If you want to continue to improve your accuracy, make sure you know whether the correct spelling is occured, ocurred, or occurred.

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