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defiantly

March 17, 2016

For some time I’ve been aware of a curious error that keeps cropping up in the student essays I mark: viz. the use of the word defiantly where clearly the word definitely is intended. What’s the reason for it? Well I have a theory. First, lots of people think that definitely is spelt definately (by analogy, I suppose, with words like fortunately, obstinately, passionately, disproportionately etc). So that’s their first go at it. But the spell-check will put a squiggly red line under that. And it will offer the alternative of defiantly, because its programme drives it to find the closest alternative, and defiantly has the first four letters the same, and then the next two letters transposed, and then the in the right place – the e is missing of course but then the -ly ending is the same, so it’s a pretty close fit. So they seize on that. Obviously I correct it every time but I am beginning to feel like Cuchulain fighting the sea (reference to Irish mythology in honour of St. Patrick’s Day there). I wonder if defiantly will eventually become an acceptable spelling for definitely, because of the spell-check programme’s mindless insistence on it?

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One Comment
  1. Debbie Smith permalink

    I see it a lot too Brandon and not just by teens or young people but quite frequently by people I know are of a similar age to me (53)! I can’t stand it – it’s up there with “should of” instead of “should have” that really “gets my goat!”

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