Monday, June 30, 2008

Wtih* (for With, etc.)

I don't know how witty I can get with Wtih, today's "high probability" typo for the word with, so this might be a good time to consult the experts. "She ran the gamut of emotions from A to B," observed Dorothy Parker of Katherine Hepburn's performance in a Broadway play called The Lake. (Which almost sounds like a method for acting on typos, while at the same time running the risk of being typecast. In any event, the catty critique did not appear to do much damage to either one's career.) Parker also once wrote in one of her trademark sardonic "love" poems, Little Words:

. . . There is no mercy in the shifting year,
No beauty wraps me tenderly about.
I turn to little words—so you, my dear,
Can spell them out.

(Portrait of Parker from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, June 27, 2008

Curch (for Church)

"Curch" (for Church) is in the "B" Section in Terry Ballard's "Typographical Errors in Library Databases" list. This means that when the word was first identified as an error, "Curch" had between 16-99 hits in OhioLINK. Based on probability statistics, most catalogs would have a high possibility of containing this typographical error.

Today's question: What one-syllable word has nine letters?

Clue: The blog picture today is a sign from StretchedOutArms Church in Washington Park, Illinois.

Wendee Eyler
Don't peek! The answer today is stretched and I hope you enjoyed a week of fun and games with words!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

iinf* (for inf*, information, etc.)

The problem with today's typo (iinf* for inf*) is the repetition of the letter "i" (Aye Aye!) at the beginning of the word. A recent check of OhioLINK retrieved 12 entries with the search key "iinf*"--but be on the lookout for acronyms, such as "IINfancia." Watch for misspellings of information, infrared, influence, informal, infirmary.

Question: What word contains the same vowel repeated six times?

Clue: Today's photo is from the TV show "McHale's Navy" with the caption "Aye Aye!!" Don't these guys always stick together?!

Wendee Eyler
Don't PEEK! The answer today is indivisibility and not one of those words used every day.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Erducation (for Education)

Education (and "Erducation" for that matter) contain all the vowels--a e i o u. At least two words have all five vowels in order, when spelled correctly, of course. Extra points if you know them both!

Today's question: What are two words that contain all five vowels in order?

Clue: I say this glibly--make typos sparingly!

Wendee Eyler
Don't Peek! Today's answers are facetiously abstemiously and they are hard words!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Englsnd (for England)

Typing an "s" for "a" (as found in "Englsnd" for England) is common and makes a dandy typographical error. The mistyping of "a" for "s" also makes "Englsnd" a word containing six consonants in a row.

Today's quiz and KEY question: What word (spelled correctly!) contains six consonants in a row?

Clue: If you look closely, the answer is in today's blog picture of a wood latch, knob, and latchstring on an old New England door.

Wendee Eyler
Don't Peek! Today's answer is latchstring but from the responses to yesterday's post for "eerie," I wouldn't be surprised that additional correct answers are possible.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wierd (for Weird)

Ohmygosh. Another "i before e except after c" word! Weird looks strange, spelled as "wierd" (wrong) or "weird" (right). Correcting typos can get rather mundane. This week I'm trying something new--a daily question to test your skills with words and spelling while you are correcting typos and our colleagues are off to ALA in Anaheim.

Today's question: What five-letter word has only one consonant?

Clue: Today's word is weird (note picture of Weird Al Yankovic in blog entry). "Weird Al" has a nice ring to it--better than "Odd Al" or "
Creepy Al" or "Uncanny Al," etc.).

See answer below my signature. Enjoy!

Wendee Eyler
Don't peek! The answer is eerie for today!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Moom (for Moon)

In honor of the month of June, today's sort of typo occurs once in a blue moon: Moom is our first typo that is also a palindrome. While looking for examples, we ended up gazing at some unrelated names and corporate bodies, but the lunar body in question came up just as expected. Although we only found three of them in OhioLINK, two dozen or so were discovered in WorldCat. About three dozen, however, turned out to be transliterations of the name Somerset Maugham. (Around a dozen were correctly spelled names.) The most endearing example of the not-quite-a-typo was Krazy & Ignatz: A Brick Stuffed with Moom-bims. And, speaking of great reads, make sure you don't truncate this one or else you'll be awash in Moomintrolls—not at all a bad thing to be, in fact. (Picture captured from Google Space and rendered in mirror image, so that like our typo of the day it reads the same from right to left as it does from left to right.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fench (for French)

Pardon my Fench—which is how I initially spelled the word French in yesterday's blog entry. It was some time after posting it that I was chagrined to note the error, but I figured (rightly) that if I had made that mistake, others probably had too. I found 18 occurrences of Fench in OhioLINK, including one misspelled surname and one typo for fence ("Don't Fench Me In"). According to the Urban Dictionary, a fench is a "paradoxical act of aggression—as a fench is entirely unprovoked, any retribution won't serve as due revenge, because the revenge was provoked by the fench. No prior warning can be given to the victim, and a fench cannot be used as a threat, because these both imply provocation of some sort—a fench must be an act of wanton, spontaneous violence. In other words, an act of aggression so successful that full revenge is impossible." I'm not sure I know exactly what that definition means, but I definitely know I don't want to be fenched! Though not without its elements of provocation and revenge, the case of the legendary Chevalier Macaire is one of the most infamous of French murders.

(Statue of Macaire and the canine witness who testified against him at trial, by Gustave Debrie, 1870.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Alchoh*, Alchol* (for Alcohol, etc.)

Drinking problems are no laughing matter, but I had to smile wanly at a couple cases of "Alchoholism [sic]" found among the 25 records in OhioLINK openly containing Alchoh*. Given your perspective, that gloss—which can also be rendered as [!]—may appear either humorous (hic!) or sobering (sick). There were 26 cases of Alchol* in our database as well. Somewhat tricky to both spell and pronounce, especially while under the influence, it could be one reason why happy tipplers dislike the word alcoholic, though probably not the main one. (The title of this 1891 self-portrait by Toulouse-Lautrec, A la Mie, is a Fench French play on words. According to proletarian slang, "un mie" is an abbreviation of amie and refers to a woman of the lower classes, most likely a prostitute. From Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Writen (for Written)

Our typo of the day looks like it was written on the wind, but a breeze blew away one of its t's. Or perhaps it went up in a puff of smoke. A little over 50 years ago, director Douglas Sirk made a melodrama purportedly based on the killing of tobacco heir Zachary "Smith" Reynolds, a notorious playboy and hothead. Although his death was officially ruled a suicide at the behest of the Reynolds family, many believe Smith was shot by his pregnant bisexual wife Libby Holman and her lover Albert "Ab" Walker. There are 75 hits for Writen in OhioLINK (including a number of "sics," antiquated spellings, and other anomalies), rendering it a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list. (Stock photo of Rock Hudson as the other man, in the movie Written on the Wind.)

Carol Reid

Monday, June 16, 2008

Porpos* (for Propose, etc.)

Porpoises are reported to be smart. They know sonar, learn quickly, and can communicate with people. Who knows, perhaps they can even spell as well! Today's typo, however, is not for the word porpoise, which can be a bit slippery for some of us, even on a good day. It's for words that occur much more often in our catalogs, such as propose, proposing, and proposal. OhioLINK netted 12 examples of Porpos*, including one surname (Porposa) and two misspellings of propos, meaning "about" in French. The word porpoise derives from the French pourpois and is originally from the Medieval Latin porcopiscus (pig plus fish). So let's go out, find some of these typos, and flip those second and third letters around. Then, I propose we all go out for a nice cool drink and some fine finnan haddie. (Finless—and purportedly grinning—porpoise, from the ConserveNature website.)

Carol Reid

Friday, June 13, 2008

Savanah (for Savannah)

"I stood agog in Lafayette Square in Savannah, amid brick paths, trickling fountains and dark trees hung with Spanish moss. Before me rose up a cathedral of linen-fresh whiteness with twin Gothic spires, and around it stood 200-year-old houses of weathered brick, with hurricane shutters that clearly were still used. I did not know that such perfection existed in America." Bill Bryson in "The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America." Savannah was presented as a Christmas present from William Tecumseh Sherman to Abraham Lincoln in 1864. When Sherman neared Savannah he was approached by civic leaders who promised to lay down all of their guns if the general would promise to not burn the place. He agreed and the city was left unmolested. Savanah is one more case of a missing letter typo. It can be found in the D or Low Probability section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases at . There are more than a million cases of Savanah in Google, so we assume that the main issue here is that people aren't sure how to spell the name. We made our first visit to Savannah last March - so taken by John Berhrendt's "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" that we finished our visit drinking martinis on the grave of Conrad Aiken at Bonaventure Cemetery. On a related note, today's photo shows the Mercer House, which figured prominently in the book and Clint Eastwood's movie adaptation. The original can be found at

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tecnology (for Technology)

"For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three," wrote Alice Kahn. Some days we can see her point, but most of the time we would feel lost without our iGoogle pages. Tecnology is an example of a missing letter typo - highlighting the ability of the human brain to add information that isn't there to make sense of what one is reading. It is unusual in the fact that the error occurs near the beginning of the word. Tecnology can be found on the C, or moderate probability section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases at There are nearly 300 hits for this in WorldCat, so the actual probability of this being found in your catalog trends a bit higher. Sometimes it is interesting to see how universal these problems are. I just checked COPAC, the combined catalog for the major universities in the United Kingdom, and got nearly 100 hits for Tecnology; there were more than 300 at the National Library of Australia.
Today's photo shows a shrine to technology at the Apple store in Midtown Manhattan. The original can be found at

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tomstone (for Tombstone)

"If we ever pass out as a great nation, we ought to put on our tombstone: 'America died from a delusion that she had moral leadership.'" So wrote Will Rogers shortly before his death. Tomstone for Tombstone got us looking for some of the more amusing epitaphs of the famous and departed. We knew Dorothy Parker's famous "Pardon my dust" and W.C. Fields "On the whole I'd rather be in Philadelphia" were both suggested by the departed, but not used. We had to go searching to find gems like Rodney Dangerfield's "There goes the neighborhood" and Jackie Gleason's "And away we go." Werner Heisenberg, inventor of the uncertainty principle, has a tombstone that reads "He lies here, somewhere." Perhaps the most apt is Mel Blanc's "That's all folks!" Tomstone is not yet found at the Typographical errors in library databases page at, but when it is added, it will be found in the low probability section since there were three hits for it in OhioLINK this morning. The normal laws of probability do not hold in this case, because there are only five tomstones in WorldCat.
Today's photo shows the most famous resident of the Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona. The original can be found at .

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bicyle (for Bicycle)

"For instance, the bicycle is the most efficient machine ever created: Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon." Bill Strickland made this statement which seems more relevant than ever as we wait for five dollars per gallon gasoline. Bicyle is an unusual example of the most common sort of error in an online catalog. Missing letters are by far the most likely type of error, but usually they occur near the end of a very long word. This is found in the C, or moderate section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases at . A check of WorldCat showed the error in 76 records, which confirms the verdict of moderate. In Google, there are more than 200,000 examples, proving that this is a fairly common mistake. As always, we suggest checking each record for context before changing a suspected typo. At the very least, there may be a "sic" present to indicate that the typo is in the original.
Today's photo shows David McCann winning the yellow jersey in stage four of the FBD Ras, an annual bicycle race around Ireland. The original can be found at

Monday, June 9, 2008

Barbership (for Barbershop)

"Never ask a barber if you need a haircut." This bit of wisdom comes from a cowboy proverb, and you can read that into situations that go far beyond hair care. Barbership for barbershop is found in the D list, or very low probability section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases at . This means that the error had at least two but no more than seven hits in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. It is not a word that people often get wrong - there were only a modest 5000 hits for it today in Google.
A check of WorldCat showed only 11 hits this morning, and most of them were found, not surprisingly, in the records for sound recordings. The work we do in typographical errors seems to point to one sure-fire recommendation: when downloading MARC records for AV items, be extra careful.
Today's photo shows a barbershop quartet on the streets of Disney World. The full version can be seen at

Friday, June 6, 2008

Universith (for University)

"A university is just a bunch of buildings built around a library" according to the late author Shelby Foote who was, I suspect, speaking at a library conference. Universith is a somewhat unusual typographical error to find in a catalog, but it happens enough that it made the C or moderate probability list in Typographical Errors in Library Databases at
That means that it was found in 8-15 records in OHIOLINK at the time of its discovery. We suspect that the initial error occurs due to the proximity of the Y key to the H key on a querty keyboard. The second error happened when the proof-reader missed it. Shelby Foote never had to worry about things like that because his books were all written in longhand. Today's photo shows an ornamental entrance at Oxford University. The full image can be found at

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Washinton (for Washington)

"Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble" according to the father of our country. Washinton is a clear example of the most normal kind of typo to be found in an online catalog - a missing letter at the end of a long and familiar word. This is the third treatment of Washington to appear on this blog, and this one can be found on the A list of Typographical Errors in Library databases at, meaning that it was found in more than 100 OHIOLINK records at the time of its discovery. This morning, the count was down to 50. More importantly, there are more than 1000 Washintons in Worldcat.

Today's photo is the Washington Monument.
Mark Twain writing in his 1874 novel "The Gilded Age," made the arch observation that by the time the monument was finished, George Washington would be the Grandfather of his country. The full version can be seen at

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Californa (For California)

California came to mind today because we are airing out our suitcases and retrieving our Mouscacaps for the trip to Anaheim in a few weeks. Mark Twain was a journalist in San Francisco in the 1860s and his later observations about the place were not very kind:
"That California get-rich-quick disease of my youth spread like wildfire. It produced a civilization which has destroyed the simplicity and repose of life, its poetry, its soft romantic dreams and visions, and replaced them with a money fever, sordid ideals, vulgar ambitions and the sleep which does not refresh. It has created a thousand useless luxuries and turned them into necessities, and satisfied nothing." Fortunately, Twain was talking about another time. We tend to enjoy these visits to California. Californa is on the C, or moderate probability section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases at, meaning that the error had from 8 to 15 hits in OHIOLINK at the time of its discovery. As we told you yesterday, be careful of changing your records because there is evidence that Californa is a legitimate spelling of the occasional place name. Today's photo was taken at Huntington Beach, and the full version can be seen at .

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Historial (for historical)

Historial for Historical - this morning's selection reminds us of something that George Bernard Shaw once said: "We learn from history that we've learned nothing from history." This classic missing letter typo is found on the B, or high probability section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases at ,
meaning that it was found at least 16 times in OHIOLINK at the time of its discovery. It also means that the typo is very likely lurking in your online catalog somewhere. We always recommend that librarians check for context before changing one of these words, and we need to give an extra note of caution on this one. Historial appears to be a legitimate word in Spanish and French. Today's picture is from Inisheer, the smallest of the 3 Aran Islands at the mouth of Galway Bay in Ireland. Inisheer is home to more than 30 centuries of historic ruins. The full version can be seen at:

Monday, June 2, 2008

Rememberance (for Remembrance)

Rememberance for Remembrance brings to mind a quote by Steven Wright: "I can't bear to think about the past - all those memories..." This error is found in the B or High Probability section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases at . One can see how this error happened - it looks right and the problem is at the end of a long word. Seeing the word may have triggered something in the proofreader to think about a lost sled from childhood instead of the work at hand. We hope you will remember to check your catalog, because there are more than 290 examples this morning in Worldcat, which makes it fairly likely that this will appear in your catalog. To close with a phrase that I may or may not have coined - "My memory has a mind of its own."