Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Exib* (for Exhibit, etc.)

The ibex is not a tiny new Apple product, thank God, but rather a type of mountain goat found in Africa and parts of Eurasia. Frankly, it would go great in an exhibit. The male grows these long, curved, fantastic-looking horns and wears a snazzy little goatee (as goats are wont to do). I wouldn't exactly call him an exhibitionist, but you can judge for yourself. Douglas Florian's book Mammalabilia, which was awarded the 2000 Claudia Lewis Poetry Award from the Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College of Education, includes the following Ogden-Nash-like ditty:

The daring ibex risk their necks
On scary airy mountain treks.
Each one must climb with skill complex
Or else become an ex-ibex.

There are 48 examples of Exib* in OhioLINK (the vast majority of which look like legitimate typos), making it "high probability" on the Ballard list.

("Ibex shapes—A summer in high Asia—1899" from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Guild*, Gild* (for Gild*, Guild*)

A guild is a trade union. To gild is to cover with a thin layer of gold. A search on Guild* + Gild* gets 114 hits in OhioLINK: Not all of them are typos, but quite a few are. Unfortunately for our purposes, gild is an alternate spelling for guild (although the reverse is not the case). Gilding is what librarians or bookbinders do when they emboss gold letters on the spine of a book. This word often turns up in my own workplace as guilding, but whenever it does, I try and let my colleagues know that U is just gilding the lily.

(Gilded Flicker in flight, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, December 29, 2008

Platimum, etc. (for Platinum)

On Christmas morning, my boyfriend and I were playing holiday tunes on YouTube when I decided to look up "Santa Baby" by Eartha Kitt. As it began to play, I asked him if he knew who she was and he seemed unsure, but replied, "Didn't she die recently?" I said, no, I'm certain I would have heard something if she had, adding that she would probably be one of those people who lives well into their 90's, if not past 100. So it was quite the strange and sad coincidence to learn Friday that Eartha Kitt had indeed passed away on Christmas. In the song for which she is probably best known (along with her role as Catwoman in the Batman TV series), she purrs: "Santa cutie, there's one thing I really do need, the deed, to a platinum mine, Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight..." This song appears on an album entitled Platinum & Gold Collection. We dug up two cases of Platimum in OhioLINK and one each of Platimun and Paltinum. Eartha Kitt, now mum, leaves behind a valuable legacy, a rich mine of sex and song, and will be sorely missed by fans all over the world—including, I feel quite sure, Santa Baby himself.

(Portrait of Eartha Kitt by Carl Van Vechten, 1952, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, December 26, 2008

Kahn, Khan (for Khan, Kahn)

"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree..." wrote Samuel Taylor Coleridge early one morning before being inopportunely interrupted by a knock at his door. By the time he was able to return to the memory of what he later termed "a vision in a dream ... a fragment," a good deal of it had already slipped away, just like that "sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice." It's believed this vivid and somewhat surreal fantasy was fueled by opium, but critics differ on the deeper meaning of the poem itself, written sometime between 1797 and 1816. There are six cases of Kubla Kahn in OhioLINK, making it a "low probability" typo on the Ballard list, but it's a useful object lesson here. The surname Kahn is a common one in the Judeo-Christian community; Khan is frequently found too, mostly among Muslims. Kahn + Khan returns 81 records, the vast majority of which appear to contain typos. Recently I memorized the poem Kubla Khan, as recommended by the book Committed to Memory, and especially enjoyed the line "As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing" (it tends to put me in mind of David Letterman's production company World Wide Pants) and, less facetiously, the final stanza, which reads:

Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

(Portrait of Coleridge, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Chrsitmas, etc. (for Christmas)

Well, don't just sit there. It's Christmas. Ian Fairclough searched high and low and found the presents—er, presence—of quite a few typos today. Let's see, in descending order (that is, with increasing truncation), we get Chrsitmas three times, Chrsitm* four times, Chrsit* 52 times, Chrsi* 54 times, and Chrs* a whopping 108 times, involving related words like Christian and Christianity. No matter how many times you say it, or how many ways there are to spell it, the spirit of Christmas is still beyond words. As my grandmother used to softly sing in German: "Stille Nacht, Heil'ge Nacht, Alles schläft, einsam wacht..." Here is to all of you calm and bright catalogers, and a merry Christmas from all of us at Typo of the Day for Librarians!

("Old Father Christmas in a New Character," looking down and out in an 1875 edition of the Canadian Illustrated News, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christms (for Christmas)

In 1823 a poetic ms. entitled A Visit from St. Nicholas (more commonly called Twas the Night Before Christmas) was published anonymously in the Troy, New York, Sentinel, just over the river and through the woods from here. It was long assumed to have been the work of Clement Clarke Moore, who lived in New York City and taught Greek and Oriental literature at Columbia College. He was also made professor of Biblical learning at the General Theological Seminary, for which he donated the land. I'm not quite sure why he was thought to be the author of this poem—he just was. But if you really must know, the story got started by a Charles Fenno Hoffman in 1837 and soon after that A Visit from St. Nicholas was published under Clement Moore's name. In 1860 its origins were challenged by the Livingston family, and in 2002 the Britannica and Columbia encyclopedias coolly informed us: "Recent computer-aided scholarship has cast considerable doubt on Moore's authorship of the poem ... In 2000 it was determined that the poem was probably the work of Henry Livingston, Jr." It's sort of like being told there's no Santa Claus. But thanks, Henry. And you too, Clement. And you too, Mr. and Ms. Claus. Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night! (Oh, and there are six cases of Christms in OhioLINK.)

(Twas the Night Before Christmas, by Clement Moore, with pictures by Jessie Willcox Smith, 1912.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Scatalog* (for Scatology, etc.)

The New Yorker once reported that the funniest joke in the world* was the following one: What's brown and sticky? (Answer: A stick!) What makes this joke so utterly perfect, it seems, is that it contains two K's (K is apparently a very funny letter), it deals in wordplay, and it appears to be scatological in nature (and then upends that expectation). There are 11 cases of Scatalog* in OhioLINK, probably because people are fastening onto the "uh" sound and forgetting about the root word: scatology. Notably, a few of these are for titles containing the word scatalogue, which may be an intentional neologism rather than an actual misspelling. (The Urban Dictionary defines scatalogue as "a piece of media focused on a topic so awful, that only equally awful people of that grouping will buy it" or "a catalogue featuring items that no-one in their right minds would buy, lest they are arrested by the Taste Police.") The stick took a break from poking someone's eye out this year in order to be inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame (where it joined 2005's cardboard box and a slew of rather more commercial playthings). Sticks are classic, biodegradable, and free (they literally grow on trees!) and, besides, giving one for Christmas would be a good way to stick it to the one who always cheaps out on your gift.

*Well, perhaps not exactly, but it was a very popular contender in an online "global humor study."

(Pic of a stick at the THoF induction ceremony, from BoingBoing.)

Carol Reid

Monday, December 22, 2008

Eldery, Ederly (for Elderly)

Jeanne Calment of Arles, France, lived from 1875 to 1997 and is considered the world's oldest person whose age can be officially verified. It seems her regimen comprised, in part, two glasses of port wine a day, two pounds of chocolate a week, and copious amounts of olive oil, taken internally and applied to the skin. She led a life of leisure and outdoor activity (riding a bicycle until she was 90: think Madame Capet in The Happy Orpheline), adopted a posture of unflappability (remarking once that she was interested in everything, but passionate about nothing), and enjoyed smoking cigarettes (which she gave up at 117 because she was too blind to get them lit and too proud to ask for a light). "I only ever had one wrinkle," she quipped, "and I'm sitting on it." Eldery appears eight times in OhioLINK and Ederly five.

(Jeanne Calment at age 22—a century to go!—from the Calment Gallery website.)

Carol Reid

Friday, December 19, 2008

Chruch, etc. (for Church)

There are those who regard religion as a crutch, or as Karl Marx once put it, "the opiate of the masses." Some even see it as a gateway drug to chauvinism, bigotry, and terrorism. But when it comes to going to church, many people simply like the pretty steeple, the kneeling in the pews, the choral singing, and the praising of their Creator. Chruch is revealed 61 times in OhioLINK, rendering it a typo of "high probability." Chruches appears 11 times. And there are 16 cases of Curch and six of Curches (including some with "sics") in there as well.

(Illustration from the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol of Tiny Tim with his little crutch, representing both a piece of wood and the peace of God, thanks to the website.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rediculous (for Ridiculous)

Which is more ridiculous, a red chapeau or a blue beehive? Marge Simpson's got both, but keep that under your hat. OhioLINK's got seven cases of Rediculous, making this a "low probability" typo on the Ballard list. That E (before I) may be due to a tendency on the part of some people to pronounce this word "Ree-diculous." The Red Hat Society was founded in 1998 by Sue Ellen Cooper, who gave her friend a red hat from a thrift store on her 55th birthday, along with a poem that begins: "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple, with a red hat that doesn't go and doesn't suit me."

(Marge Simpson in "The Last of the Red Hat Mamas," a play on the Sophie Tucker sobriquet The Last of the Red Hot Mamas, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Vegtable* (for Vegetable*)

With five servings of Vegtable* in OhioLINK, today's typo comes under the rubric of "That's How It Sounds." However, if you think the word vegetable is hard to pronounce, try saying it while feeling loose and being Lucy. "I'm your Vitameatavegamin Girl!" she says on the first take, while taking a swig, and it's all downhill from there. In 1936, Ball registered to vote in the Communist Party primary at the behest of her socialist grandfather, and was made to revisit this notion 17 years later when she got hauled before HUAC to 'splain herself. On an episode of I Love Lucy around that time, Desi Arnaz skipped the usual audience warm-up and instead recounted this story, adding: "The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that's not legitimate." Then he brought out his wife, who received a standing ovation. Apparently, Lucy was not unpoopular, even if she did pop out of the Party.*

*Alcohol-based spoonerism for: "Are you unpopular? Do you poop out at parties?"

Carol Reid

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Solider*, etc. (for Soldier*)

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay
To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills...

So wrote Robert Louis Stevenson—a thin, frail child who later grew solider—in "The Land of Counterpane." Solider* shows up 88 times in OhioLINK, but they aren't all typos for soldier* et al. You might do better to try and combine forces: Solider* + Soldier* reduced our count to 17 and Solder* + Soldier* to eight. Sodlier* and Soldeir* returned with one each. As a youngster, Stevenson inherited a "weak chest" and tended to take ill during the coldest months of the year. If you too find yourself feeling under the weather this winter (in the land of pain and counter-pain), might I suggest a warm plate of buttered toast, or perhaps a soft-boiled egg with toast soldiers? It's a good way to spend an hour or so—and even better in bed.

(Illustration from

Carol Reid

Monday, December 15, 2008

Raindeer (for Reindeer)

Santa's reindeer are like the proverbial postal carriers: neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night can keep them from their appointed rounds. However, just like the rest of us, I'm sure they appreciate a nice sunny day now and then. OhioLINK returns three hits for Raindeer, but one is for a "two-word visual poem for Christmas" by Ronald Johnson called Raindeer Snowbell. It appears to be spelled that way on the original, but it's hard to tell whether it's intentional or not. WorldCat contains 42 records with that spelling. It's likely that errors such as this one, which are more often a matter of not knowing how to spell a word than of simply hitting the wrong key, are committed by the author or publisher, rather than input by the cataloger. You should definitely check the piece to be sure. But don't let rainy deers and Mondays go and get you down.

(Reindeer in the Kebnekaise valley, Lappland, Sweden, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rusian (for Russian)

"History would be an excellent thing if only it were true," according to Russian author Leo Tolstoy. This may have given birth to what was described as the "Great Russian Joke" in the latter days of the Soviet Union. Question: "What is the definition of a historian?" Answer: "Someone who can predict the past." Rusian is an error that is on the 'C' or moderate probability list in Typographical Errors in Library Databases, meaning that it was found at least 8 times, but not more than 15 in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. Its place on this list seems to be the result of sloppy typing followed by sloppy proofreading.

Today's photograph adds symmetry to the week. On Monday we were standing on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco looking west. This photo, taken atop Russian Hill, looks back to Coit Tower.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Scultpure (for Sculpture)

“It is not hard to understand modern art. If it hangs on a wall it's a painting, and if you can walk around it it's a sculpture,” according to Tom Stoppard. Public sculpture has endured worse criticism over the years - usually from pigeons. Sculpture has been a favorite in these pages before, and provides us a respite from the usual diet of missing vowels. Scultpure is found in the 'C' or moderate probability section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases, meaning that the error was present at least 8 but no more than 15 times in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. There were 99 hits in WorldCat this morning. Since they display in relevance order, the first display screen showed records with the offending term in the title. It caused barely a ripple in Google - just over 50,000 hits. As in all inverted letter typos (or at least every one we've seen), the two letters involved in the mistake are on opposite sides of the QWERTY keyboard.
Today's photo is a detail from the Irish Famine Memorial in Philadelphia. The original can be seen at

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Educaton (for Education)

"Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge." This was said  by Mark Twain, who had to leave school at a young age to help support his family after the death of his father. Twain also said that he never let schooling get in the way of his education, and he learned enough to hold his own in any conversation with leaders and scholars. Educaton is a classic case of a missing 'i' at the end of a long and very familiar word. This is found in the 'B' or high probability section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases. This morning, there were 375 hits in WorldCat for the error. Interestingly, 8 out of the first 10 shown had Educaton in the main title field.

Today's photo shows the giant heads of Greek philosophers near the entrance to the Bodleian Library. The original can be found at

Monday, December 8, 2008

Decmeber (for December)

"Men are April when they woo, December when they wed. Maids are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives," according to William Shakespeare. Lest we be accused of making much ado about nothing, the error Decmeber is on the C list at Typographical Errors in Library Databases, meaning that it was found at least 8 but not more than 15 times in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. More to the point, it is present in nearly 250 records in WorldCat, so there is a fair chance that it is lurking in your catalog. It is not found in our online catalog at Quinnipiac University, but you can find 11 hits at the Library of Congress.

Today's photo is a closeup of a Macy's window in 2005. The original can be found at

Citiy (for City)

“No city invites the heart to come to life as San Francisco does. Arrival in San Francisco is an experience in living.” This was said by William Saroyan, and I'll vouch for the fact that these words are still true today. Citiy is a fairly unusual typo - by being an added letter in a short word it goes against the classic pattern of opac typos: missing letters in long words. That is why it only makes it to the 'E' list on Typographical Errors in Library Databases at We only saw 22 hits today in WorldCat, which is on target for an E list entry, but there were more than 100,000 in Google, so it is a more common typo than its library presence would suggest.
Today's photograph shows the North Beach section of San Francisco taken by an out-of-breath photographer at the top of Telegraph Hill. The original can be found at

Friday, December 5, 2008

Opea* (for Operations, Opera, etc.)

When my father was a little boy and a picky eater, he would often drop his peas down a hole in the leg of the dining room table. Out of sight, out of mind, it seems, although apparently there arose quite a clatter when the table was dismantled one day and the desicated peas were thus discovered. In any event, this was not the first time the lowly legume had been incorporated into a piece of furniture. I hated peas too, but I loved "The Princess and the Pea," in which the former's suitability as a royal spouse hung on her sensitivity to the latter, strategically placed beneath a pile of quilts on the guest bed. "So the prince took her to be his wife, for now he was sure that he had found a real princess, and the pea was put into the Museum, where it may still be seen if no one has stolen it..." Opea* shows up 17 times in OhioLINK, ranking it "high probability" for words like operations, opera, etc.

(Illustration by Edmund Dulac of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Princess and Pea," from

P.S. The great folk and blues musician Odetta passed away this week. Asked one time about being single and growing older, she told an interviewer: "Men are like peas ... I’ve had enough peas."

Carol Reid

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Agian (for Again)

We met this typo in July of 2007 and today we're meeting it again. Vera Lynn sings "We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day"—while Slim Pickens ironically navigates a nuke to the end of the earth—at the close of Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. While the results of today's meeting are not nearly as calamitous for humanity, Agian does turn up 15 times in OhioLINK, making it a typo of "moderate to high probability" on the Ballard list. So, once again, search your OPACs carefully and take the bombs away.

(Vera Lynn entertaining factory workers, from the Stanway Primary School's "Women at War" website.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Heath (for Health)

Chocolate contains a lot of antioxidants, flavonoids, and other healthful components, and the Heath bar was initially sold as virtual health food, with one early ad declaring: "Eat Heath for health!" The wrapper design remains basically unchanged from the 1928 original and may be indulging in a bit of subliminal advertising to boot. According to Wikipedia, it has "the name 'Heath' printed in a distinctive fashion: two very large H's bookending eat." Depending on how you formulate your search, results will vary, but this is definitely a typo of high probability. The problem is that Heath is also a relatively common surname, in addition to being an actual word that means moor or shrub, i.e. "heather." If you're getting too many hits on Heath + Health, try to limit your search in such a way as to exclude Heath in the personal name field. (Searched that way, I got 191 results; without the exclusion, 377.)

(Heath bar, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Condiser* (for Consider, etc.)

Consider this: The typo Condiser* is found nine times in the OhioLINK database, making it a typo of "moderate probability" on the Ballard list. There seems to be no good explanation for this since both the S and the D are on the same side of the keyboard; in fact, they're cozying right up to each other. (Considering that fact, though, perhaps that is the explanation.) In any case, sometimes these things just happen. It would be most considerate of you not to poke fun at this mix-up, but simply to switch the two letters around. Thanking you in advance for your consideration...

("Considerate Christa" doll, wearing a Girl Scout Brownie vest and badge.)

Carol Reid

Monday, December 1, 2008

Minesota, etc. (for Minnesota)

Senate contenders Al Franken and Norm Coleman have been mining for missed and miscounted votes ever since Election Day, each one hoping to ultimately tip the scales in his favor. Coleman campaign attorney Fritz Knaak has called for a "truce" between the two camps, citing an "obscene number of ballots" being challenged in "the recount version of mutually assured destruction," according to the website Minesota is the clear winner in the Minnesota typos race, with 16 hits in OhioLINK. (Minnsota, Minnnesota, and Minnestoa are trailing with one, four, and five respectively). Both candidates appear to have high self-esteem, but perhaps only Franken is smiling at himself in the mirror each morning, repeating: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!"

(Al Franken on the campaign trail, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid