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November 13, 2010 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Is "rediculous" an acceptable spelling?

When I searched for it here, all I got were people using the word "rediculous" like a normal word, and this is Metafilter! I googled and googled and I could only find references to it being a typo, but it's so common I'm beginning to doubt myself. How do misspellings become alternate spellings, and is there a resource I could use to find out?
posted by EtzHadaat to Writing & Language (40 answers total)
 
It's a common misspelling. It's not correct, but maybe, if people keep it up, in 50 years it will be.
posted by limeonaire at 9:40 AM on November 13, 2010


No, it's still wrong. When it's in a dictionary as an alternate spelling, it will be correct.

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Special:Search?search=rediculous&go=Go
posted by Slinga at 9:41 AM on November 13, 2010


No. No, it is not.

Full disclosure: I am a prescriptivist of the worst, most snobbish order. But no. The word is "ridiculous." That many people spell it otherwise is simply evidence of the sad state of the world.
posted by KathrynT at 9:42 AM on November 13, 2010 [14 favorites]


What?

No, it isn't acceptable. It's wrong. And not even deliberately LOLCAT HAZ NO DIKSHUNAIREE ironic wrong. Brain fart wrong. Mistaken. In error. Not Right.

That many people do it has no bearing on its correctness. Every day, millions of people pick their noses in public. That doesn't make it right.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:46 AM on November 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Unlike many other "SAT words," this one actually pops up in conversation frequently. Since the first sound is a schwa for many speakers, it makes sense for people who are unfamiliar with the spelling to try out various vowels in that position.

The word has a pretty transparent etymology (it's from the Latin ridere, which also pops up in most Romance languages with the same first vowel: Sp. reír, Pt. rir, It. ridere, Fr. rire, etc.). It's unlikely to develop spelling variants, except in the remotely possible case of some popular groundswell of idiosyncratic folk etymology.
posted by Nomyte at 9:46 AM on November 13, 2010


ridiculous: laughable, invoking or involving ridicule

rediculous: to diculous again.
posted by copperbleu at 9:47 AM on November 13, 2010 [28 favorites]


No. It is horrid and wrong.
posted by onepot at 9:48 AM on November 13, 2010 [11 favorites]


It's exactly as acceptable as "teh". In other words, it's either an inadvertent error or an ironic pseudo-error.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:51 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Right, "same first vowel." Catalan Spanish has a regular i -> e correspondence before consonants with more conservative Romance languages. (e.g., cebolla vs. cipolla, etc.)
posted by Nomyte at 9:53 AM on November 13, 2010


No. Spelling it that way would make you look ridiculous.
posted by sprezzy at 9:58 AM on November 13, 2010


Thats defanitely teh rong speling.
posted by phunniemee at 10:03 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wrong, wronger, wrongest.
The correct, the only spelling allowed in this or any other world is "ridiculous."

The "people" who would spell it that other way probably spell "lose" as "loose."
posted by BostonTerrier at 10:10 AM on November 13, 2010


When I searched for it here, all I got were people using the word "rediculous" like a normal word

The thing is, assuming that "rediculous" was a word, it would be pronounced identically to "ridiculous." Since English spelling actually is semi-phonetic, it's easy for your fingers to follow the way it sounds in your head if you a) aren't good at spelling, or b) are just typing too fast.

With words like "lose" and "loose," you have two vowels that are clearly different in sound. Some people still don't know the difference, yeah, but that difference in sound does help others keep them straight.

I never mix up "lose" and "loose," but when I'm in a hurry, a "rediculous" might slip out. So might a mix-up of homophones, like "their" versus "they're." I know perfectly well what the correct spelling is; it's just that when I'm typing fast it's easy for my fingers to start subconsciously following the sound, rather than the spelling that I know is correct.

tl;dr: "rediculous" is not an accepted variant spelling (yet), so don't use it in situations where your spelling matters. However, even people who can write well sometimes use it because it's an easy mistake to make.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:19 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Certainly it's wrong according to the folks at how-to-spell-riduculous.com.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:33 AM on November 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ridicule is a word. Redicule is not. When someone uses 'rediculous,' their meaning is understood, but they also out themselves as a bad speller. I am a wretched typist and a darn good speller. I have some understanding that spelling is not reliably indicative of intelligence, but some misspellings are particularly suspect. 'Rediculous' is one of them.
posted by theora55 at 10:34 AM on November 13, 2010


The thing is, assuming that "rediculous" was a word, it would be pronounced identically to "ridiculous."

Maybe for you, but I don't pronounce red and rid the same way.

With words like "lose" and "loose," you have two vowels that are clearly different in sound. Some people still don't know the difference, yeah, but that difference in sound does help others keep them straight.

When I say "lose" and "loose," the vowel sounds are identical. The difference is the s, which sounds like a "z" in the former word.

In my opinion, the common misspelling "rediculous" has more to do with the prevalence of the "re" prefix than with the pronunciation of the word. But, yes, completely and utterly wrong. This website is leading the fight against the misspelling.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:34 AM on November 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


No way.
posted by sucre at 10:42 AM on November 13, 2010


I would like to refudiate the idea that rediculous is an acceptable alternate spelling.

TL;DR:

NO
posted by randomkeystrike at 11:37 AM on November 13, 2010


Heck no at all!
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:54 AM on November 13, 2010


It's clearly wrong. But I'm not sure it's always just a typo or error - it seems to me that "rediculous" could possibly be closer to "teh" at this point.
posted by J. Wilson at 12:06 PM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I sometimes say "rediculous", pronoucing red like the word red. But I'm just doing it for effect and I would never seriously consider rediculous to be an alternate spelling for ridiculous.
posted by peacheater at 12:53 PM on November 13, 2010


It is wrong.

Remember all those times in middle school when your English teacher was harping on and on about Latin and Greek "root words" and etymology and such? This is why.

If you want to spell something that begins with "re", and you think of "re" as a prefix that carries some kind of meaning, try to find a root within that word that could plausibly have "re" added to it. If not, you're probably spelling it wrong. Obviously there are exceptions ("overwhelmed", "unkempt"), but it's a good rule of thumb.
posted by Sara C. at 1:16 PM on November 13, 2010


It's accepted as an alternate spelling by almost no one. But:

That many people do it has no bearing on its correctness. Every day, millions of people pick their noses in public. That doesn't make it right.

On the contrary, it's the only thing that does make it "right." Language isn't correct or incorrect by virtue of some God-given set of instructions. Once a crucial number of people start spelling it or pronouncing it "rediculous," then guess what? It'll be correct! "X" number of people using language in a certain manner determines acceptable usage, not dictionaries or grammar books.

BitterOldPunk may be shocked to learn that even his short post was loaded with examples of "wrong" grammar and word usage according to the rules of, say, 1790. The "rule books" have changed since then, so you may not see much wrong with his post. But those "rules" changed because popular / predominant usage changed, which (ultimately) is how it always works.

The same applies to picking noses, actually.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:33 PM on November 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Maybe for you, but I don't pronounce red and rid the same way.

Neither do I, but in "ridiculous", I certainly pronounce it "red".
posted by smackfu at 2:02 PM on November 13, 2010


Language isn't correct or incorrect by virtue of some God-given set of instructions.

For spoken language, perhaps.

But there are very few commonly used words which have randomly changed spellings in midstream over the past 150 years or so that dictionaries have been common*. And the changes I can think of have to do with mutually agreeing on spellings for colloquialisms that were not commonly in print in the past ("cookie" vs. "cooky"), stylistic issues ("to-night" vs. "tonight"), and certain borrowings from other languages ("pajama" vs. "pyjama"). I can't think of a single example where a word with one obviously correct spelling suddenly got an accepted variant because the population is simply too uneducated to be bothered.

*A point that is important when people start throwing out factoids about how, in 1650, there were no rules, and you could do whatever you wanted. Once the printed word became commonplace throughout all levels of society, once literacy was a goal for everyone and not just the elite, once it was considered axiomatic that everyone should go to school in order to learn to communicate in writing, the rules crystallized in a way that doesn't apply to Shakespeare or Adam Smith or Daniel Defoe.
posted by Sara C. at 2:08 PM on November 13, 2010


Yes, it's a crayon color.
posted by crabintheocean at 2:55 PM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


By coincidence... I was answering another AskMe question earlier today and typed 'rediculous'. I consider myself a pretty decent speller but only my browser's spell check saved me from embarrassment. Also I just almost misspelled embarrassment. Maybe I'm not a good speller after all.
posted by Gortuk at 3:46 PM on November 13, 2010


You're right, Dee Xtrovert. I should have ended my comment with "... Yet.".
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:47 PM on November 13, 2010


Well, it kind of depends on what you/we/we-as-society want English spelling to be representative of. And how we want to go about effecting that change.

For many dialects of English, a 'rediculous' spelling would be more consistent with a [rɛdɪkʲulʌs] pronunciation. Are norms about spelling changing? Are attitudes about prescriptivism changing? Is English spelling somewhat [ridɔnkʲulɪs]?

Yes, yes, and yes.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:10 PM on November 13, 2010


Once a crucial number of people start spelling it or pronouncing it "rediculous," then guess what? It'll be correct!

True enough, but for the sake of the OP, the bottom line is, we are nowhere near that point.

And even though it appears overwhelmingly more common than not, you cannot force me to say "he invited my wife and I", "between him and I","the check was made out to her and I". (When did this one jump from classic schoolroom solecism to all but standard usage? Times like this I feel older than I think I should.)
posted by IndigoJones at 5:30 PM on November 13, 2010


Ummm... if you Google "rediculous" you receive about 6,490,000 results. Granted, that doesn't automatically make the spelling acceptable, but still....
posted by exphysicist345 at 5:40 PM on November 13, 2010


If you Google "ridiculous", you get 31 million + hits. And all the top hits for "rediculous" are links about commonly misspelled words. Only two hits on the first page of the search results is actually a legitimate use of the spelling "rediculous". And one is a record label, which is a poetic license sort of situation, like the crayon.
posted by Sara C. at 6:05 PM on November 13, 2010


Oh, yes, this is a common misspelling of redonkulous.
posted by dubitable at 8:57 PM on November 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not. Under. Any. Circumstances.
posted by Decani at 2:39 AM on November 14, 2010


You should refudiate this misspelling.
posted by scottymac at 6:52 AM on November 14, 2010


Kutsuwamushi: "The thing is, assuming that "rediculous" was a word, it would be pronounced identically to "ridiculous.""

That's ridiculous - consider the pronunciation of the words "red" and "rid".
posted by namewithoutwords at 7:23 AM on November 15, 2010


namewithoutwords: I take it you don't know too many people from the southern U. S. I don't actually know how they pronounce "red" and "rid", but there are a lot of people for whom "pin" and "pen" are pronounced the same.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:07 AM on November 15, 2010


I'm from the South and do the pen/pin thing.

I say "red" and "rid" totally different from each other.

However, I think the reason people get tripped up is the fact that some/most people (regional thing? I dunno?) say that first vowel in "ridiculous" as a schwa. So if you spell mainly by sounding things out and hoping for the best, rediculous probably seems OK.
posted by Sara C. at 10:10 AM on November 15, 2010


I take it you don't know too many people from the southern U. S. I don't actually know how they pronounce "red" and "rid", but there are a lot of people for whom "pin" and "pen" are pronounced the same.
The "pen/pin merger" only occurs when the vowel precedes a nasal consonant (either [m], [n], or [ŋ] "ng").

I think Sara C. hits the nail on the head with her comment on the first vowel being a schwa. In English, there is a significant difference in the sounds of vowels in stressed syllables (such as "red" and "rid") and the sounds of vowels in unstressed syllables (like the first syllable of "ridiculous"), which often are reduced to schwa.

Think about "red" vs. "Alfred" (where the second syllable is unstressed). The "red" in "Alfred" sounds very different (and much closer to "rid", as it happens).
posted by kosmonaut at 6:10 PM on November 17, 2010


That's ridiculous - consider the pronunciation of the words "red" and "rid".

Why should I consider them?

"Red" and "rid" are monosyllabic words with unreduced vowels. "Ridiculous," on the other hand, is a word with four syllables. The stress falls on the second, and so the vowel in the first is reduced to a schwa. There may be some dialects in which unstressed vowels are not reduced like this (especially in Englishes initially started in communities of non-native speakers), but I don't believe they would be the majority.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:58 AM on November 19, 2010


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