Thanks, Gretchen for pointing to my super-tough, but fun Etymologic! word origins game on your weblog! In fact, if you haven’t checked it out yet, you definitely should: Etymologic! is an award-winning word game based on etymology, or word origins. A typical question might be: through what avenue did the word denim enter the English language? (it’s a tough game. Be prepared!)
The game came about because my friend Kevin Savetz and I had built a web-based computer trivia game called trivial.net, and since I’d written the game engine, I thought “wouldn’t it be cool to have the same engine work with a different quiz database?” and so Etymologic was born. In its first generation it was “Where’s THAT From?” but when I moved it to its own domain it was renamed. And that’s the scoop!
Oh no… Why did you have to show me this? Now I’m going to waste countless HOURS upon HOURS with this! 🙂 Funny thing, Dave, I came to your web log because I came across a bizarre word situation, and thought you might be interested. (And that’s when I found this entry.) Here’s my word thing for the day: I was taught back in high school by some teacher that the word “dilemma” is spelled with an n as “dilemna.” Well, that’s wrong, of course, and even the m-w.com unabridged agrees it’s wrong. (Yes, I paid for acess to the unabridged dictionary!) Now every time I come across the word “dilemma” (spelled correctly), it looks wrong to me. But worse, I was wondering: Am I going crazy? Was I *really* taught that it was spelled with an n? Well, I did a web search and found out that LOTS of people were taught in school that it has an n in it! And today a search on google shows about 23,400 pages that have the word “dilemna” in it (with the n). A google search of “dilemna dilemma spelling” shows several pages where people even talk about this particular spelling problem and how they were taught it had an n, even though it doesn’t. So apparently I’m not alone!
I understand. In high school I was taught to use “whom.” Still, I couldn’t get away with that anymore, and neither should you.
It took me about two years to un-learn spelling “tomorrow” as “tommorrow.”
If you remember being taught to spell dilemna with an N, you are not alone. You are, however, no longer living in the reality into which you were born. Sometime in the early 1980’s this shift occurred. Not everyone remembers. Those who do, do so quite vehemently.
Are there people living in our old reality insisting that dilemna is spelled with two M’s although they can find no mention of such a spelling in a dictionary. As far as the etymological derivation of the word di (2) lemma (proposition) is concerned: lemma was spelled lemna for thousands of years until 1980something…
We had this odd experience just this evening; my husband and I, both products of the early ’60’s, swore that it was spelled “dilemna”. We had a spitting argument with his 77 year-old mother, and his 67 year-old aunt, who insisted that it was spelled “dilemma”. So we confidently looked it up in the 1800-something family dictionary, and were astounded to see “dilemma”, with absolutely no mention of the N spelling!!! Gasp!! What time warp were millions of us caught in, because I could almost swear I’ve seen it spelled with the n many more times than not? I even gave the 2nd place oral extemp speech at state contest in high school entitled, “On the Horns of a Dilemna; Women in the Workplace”. This is going to bug me for days.
Dear Dave Taylor, I love your ETYMOLOGIC game. I, PIERRE, sent in the ” What is the origin of DENIM”. Thank you for the discreet credit.
I hav been working on a FRENCH version, here at Penn State.
Could we have your blessing. Of course Credits to you.