Words are dying right now. Are you helping to kill them?

spell-check, dying English, Lucca Institute, Alexander PetersenA group of physicists recently collaborated on a statistical survey of words. You may be wondering why physicists are interested in language. In this case, it is not language per se, but how words imitate the statistical patterns of the stock market and animal populations. This group of researchers, led by Alexander Petersen of the IMT Lucca Institute for Advanced Studies, culled data from Google’s digitized books to analyze how word use varies over time.

In particular, the scientists looked at “word competition.” Why would words compete? Well, this isn’t about competition between words. Obviously, for language as a whole to function, nouns need verbs, which need prepositions and adverbs. In this sense, competition refers to aggression between different variations of a word: is “color” used more than “colour”? It may be hard to imagine this, but before spell-check there were often misspelled words in newspapers and published books. As the researchers point out: “With the advent of spell-checkers in the digital era, the fitness of a ‘correctly’ spelled word is now larger than the fitness of related ‘incorrectly’ spelled words.”

How does spell-check (and grammar check) work in the first place? Learn about the history of word processing and the Cupertino effect here.

Completely new words are often the product of an innovation, such as the internet, but languages also evolve because of new settings. Who knows if Americanisms like “skedaddle”, “rambunctious” , and “discombobulate” would have survived spell-check if they had arisen later in time.

The physicists also looked at synonym death. Have you ever heard of a radiogram? Probably not. The words radiogram and roentgenogram mean an x-ray. This may come as a shock, but before the 20th century, the word “roentgenogram” was used most frequently. Today, x-ray is the dominant word, while radiogram and roentgenogram are nearly extinct. Shorter more efficient words can eventually kill their longer, clunkier brethren.

Due to synonym death and the widespread use of spell-check, words are dying. Using complex algorithms, the scientists discovered that in the past 40 years more words have died than during any other period in their data (from 1800 – 2008). At the same time, fewer words are being successfully introduced into the language. As the scientists conclude: “In the past 10-20 years, the total number of distinct words has significantly decreased, which we find is due largely to the extinction of both misspelled words and nonsensical print errors, and simultaneously, the decreased birth rate of new misspelled variations.” Statistically speaking, the language is shrinking.

How are words removed from the dictionary? Find out here.

If you understand the phrase “log-linear plot”, here is the academic paper upon which this research is based.

What do you think of spell-checks influence on our words? Will spell-check do more harm than good?


  1. Eric Christopher -  April 25, 2016 - 1:08 am

    A) As somebody who is a physicist we really don’t need any motivation to do things except to understand what we currently do not. The lack of hard science in so many areas calling themselves ‘science’ has led to a number of more serious professional chemists and physicists taking this position. Regardless of the subject matter there have been enough erroneous and intentionally misleading studies we have to do this to curb the appetite of the ‘religious’ who legitimately have their faiths challenged by a few pieces of data [really faithful people probably wouldn't acknowledge asinine stuff like that]. Anyway tiny rant aside I think a lot of the issue with auto correct stems from a failure to upgrade and update software to recognize heuristic patterns based on keyboard placement. So many homophones that I use regularly are autocorrected or corrected to their default first definition. In order for our language to work homophones simply cannnnnot be thought of in such a manner. Further the predictive text bases its predictions on the placement of keyboard letters and how much you type. Keyboard placement, however, seems to be relatively absent leading to the phone not realize you were just offset in typing. In conclusion, scientists do research outside their field because people report on it far over people who want to know such things playing the scientist and doing their own studies, autocorrect has some issues that are inherent to the software that limits the number of words in the English language you have a significant understanding of by limiting even homophones. The way to correct this is NOT TO TURN OFF SUCH PROGRAMS, but is in fact to improve them such that they continually better understand typos from an input standpoint and not an output one like we have now that leads to well, word death.

    • Eric Christopher -  April 25, 2016 - 1:11 am

      TLDR: We simply need software that knows how we do typos the same way we understand it and not something to save us post thought.

  2. Ken R Carp -  April 1, 2016 - 11:21 am

    Some spel checkers include option of Gramar chek. Makes it easier to tel if it should be “spel-checs influence” OR “Spel chek’s influence” ( note apostrophee and poor spelin. ) Should period be Inside or Outside paren’s?

  3. abyx -  March 10, 2016 - 7:56 pm

    Seriously tho, I hate wehn spellcheck is on by default in my browser and it shows all the words I type (posts, email,…) in my native language as wrong english words. I always turn it off. And I turn it on only when I need it.

    • abyx -  March 10, 2016 - 7:57 pm

      when* (you see my spellcheck is off now)

  4. Papa -  August 17, 2014 - 10:27 am

    Google has an auto correct whilst typing and told me (set in my native UK English) it didn’t understand the word “anymore” as a whole word.
    Spellcheck often tries to correct perfectly good spelling. I’ve noticed this happen in Microsoft word so many times.

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  6. suzann -  December 21, 2012 - 8:49 pm

    I have become aware of many words being misused, or words that have totally disappeared from daily usage. No one seems to know or care when “LESS” or “FEWER”
    is appropriate. “Fewer” is rarely used, making “less” the incorrect word of choice most often. (“Less people were there today.”) The article “AN” is non-existent now, and contributes to speakers sounding even more ignorant than need be. It is actually painful to listen to a person considered intelligent…. (journalists, polititicians, teachers!) clumsily stating, “It was ‘A’ international fiasco…” or “Results of ‘A’ independent study show…!”. So very many other misuses occur regularly and are just as glaringly obvious and so very disturbing to anyone actually educated in elementary school English! It is difficult to know all the factors responsible for such a rapid decline in the ability to use our own language intelligently.

  7. Darmech -  November 1, 2012 - 6:23 am

    There are the words that are constantly incorrectly used e.g.: awesome
    And there are words that should be used and are not e.g.: nor and neither.
    Spell check does not account for this as the system is only Basic English and spelling

  8. harpo210 -  August 31, 2012 - 6:00 pm

    What are these people talking about. Some of us are bad spellers,
    so the “Spell check” is of great help, save time, tha is all.

    But the more we use the less we will need it not? make sense to me.
    I promote reading…

    And then is memory,, that is the big factor..

  9. Philip Spencer -  July 28, 2012 - 1:41 pm

    While there is probably some truth to what it says in this article, it’s basically nonsense. Some words do disappear due to lack of use, but the English language as a whole is growing at the rate of one new word every 8 minutes. The English language has more words than any other language, and it is growing at a faster pace than any other language.

  10. Roek -  June 12, 2012 - 7:10 pm


  11. WordSmart -  June 11, 2012 - 5:03 am

    I like it when words are written correctly and when they are not, then I am the spellchecker.. in the internet I play at TypoBounty.com

  12. fishcolonel2 -  May 25, 2012 - 11:25 am

    You cannot kill a word as long as one man still says it.
    You cannot eliminate a language as long as one man still speaks it.
    Whether or not something is in the dictionary doesn’t matter.

    • abyx -  March 10, 2016 - 7:54 pm

      Well, technically speaking, if you kill that one last man that speaks a now unique language or word, you kill the language or word as well. :D

  13. thatpersonwhosalive -  May 7, 2012 - 6:12 pm

    Whenever I write book reports I don’t use spell check, since it is not fair to those who have handwritten them. I prefer, as well, to use more bizzare, uncommon words (I get better marks when I do).

    • Guardian -  September 29, 2015 - 7:58 pm

      Whenever I write book reports I don’t use spell check, since (since when?) (because???) it is not fair to those who have handwritten them. I prefer, as well, to use more bizzare, (bizarre???) uncommon words (I get better marks when I do).

      An English instructor in this person’s life has obviously failed to actually teach English.

  14. April -  April 26, 2012 - 9:58 pm

    I think it depends on the person using the spell check. Not everyone abuses spell check. For someone like myself, it is a great tool, and mostly eliminates the need for having it looked over by another person. However there are people out there that generally need to return back to the basics of the language in which they intend to write and commit it to memory.

  15. Anne -  April 13, 2012 - 6:08 pm


  16. Anne -  April 13, 2012 - 6:06 pm


  17. sithembiso -  April 12, 2012 - 9:38 am

    I personally think spell-check does more good than harm simply because we are living in a digital world, it is no longer a must to know the spelling, so, spell-check is playing a major role.I also think the short messaging will influence the mordern english in a major way. ?

  18. OnceInABlueMoon -  April 11, 2012 - 3:59 pm

    I think that the majority of people who use shorthand “chat” are doing it out of genuine laziness. What happened to good spelling and grammar? Where did the word “wassup” come from? People don’t capitalize either. Again, because they are too lazy to press Shift on their computer or smartphone. Spell checks make it so people think a machine will do their work for them. It irritates me when I see virtually scribbles everywhere. What worries me is that soon reading will no longer be a source of vocabulary, as the children who grew up with a limited lexicon use vague and bland words in literature. Of course, that’s just me being myself. A person who doesn’t like writing probably won’t write. What happened to English??? Again, spell checks are to blame. Sigh…….

    However, words are words. They don’t really have a “life span”. They could “live” forever, if given the chance. It’s all in using it. We should have a “Vocabulary Day” where we all pretend that the shorthands (wassup, vocab, cuz, gonna, wanna, kinda, dunno, etc.) don’t exist and we look in the dictionary and find a long word we really like and start using it (correctly, mind you) to drag it out of the dark, eerie place where it has been sitting these past years. Throw the shorthands there for a while.

    Spell checks aren’t really effective, anyways. I write Latin words (a language I’m learning) and it suggests the most ridiculous things. To tell you the truth, the spell check is probably worse off than we are. For example, I was typing a report on rhynchocephalians (a tuatara) and it said it was spelled incorrectly. I checked a dictionary just in case, because I can be careless at times. I must have checked twoscore (word I’m trying to use, I rather enjoy British words) times and nothing was wrong. I told it to “Ignore All”. I typed the word a second time and it corrected me again, even though I told it to ignore all. Now that I consider it, I think it meant to ignore all the words already inserted in the document. But I don’t know much about technology. I think spell checks are ridiculous.

  19. April -  April 11, 2012 - 1:56 pm

    If words are dying, it is because of the lazy people who don’t bother to learn how to spell them, therefore they do not use the words or wind up butchering them when they attempt to. This is the fault of not just the people whose spelling skills are very weak, but of their parents and of course, the educational system and the modern world as well. I catch spelling errors in all sorts of places, including in advertisements.

    About the thing with ‘color’ and ‘colour’. I think it is a mistake to compare those two. They are regional spellings. In the US it is usually ‘color’ that is used though some open-minded writers may use both.

    As for spell-check, if a person’s skill in spelling is decent, then it is merely a tool to catch those little typos that just happen from time to time or for when you aren’t sure if you’re remembering the spelling of a big word correctly. However, you must keep an eye on names and other similar things because if you don’t pay attention you will wind up with an unintended error. Although, isn’t that why you’re supposed to read over a piece and edit it as needed?

  20. Mark -  April 6, 2012 - 5:17 am

    I think words do dying, although they can still be found in dictionaries and records…..they no longer known by most people already. and as time goes by, will only exist in dictionaries and journals eventually…..

  21. yayRay Shell :) -  April 5, 2012 - 11:35 am

    I think spell-check does more good than bad because it can sometimes make it funny when it autocorrects a name like Tuut into tutu. Then that particular moment is very memorable.

  22. BeastBoyLover(Abi) -  April 2, 2012 - 10:46 am

    *whispers in raspy voice* WORD KILLER!!!

  23. shawna from court school in jackson -  March 28, 2012 - 11:24 am

    how is it possible for english to die?? i always go on the internet to look up words in spanish, english, french…. how is it dying though, seriously. can you give some examples of words that are dying then? thanks <3

  24. Mike -  March 27, 2012 - 11:24 pm

    I’m KILLING the word “use”. So don’t use the word use because using use would make you a user, and hence, a loser. Oh, what’s the use…. Go ahead and use use as usual. Thanks! ;)

  25. Mike -  March 27, 2012 - 11:21 pm

    I’m KILLING the word “USE”. So don’t use the word “use” because using use will make you a user, and hence, a loser. Oh, what’s the use…. Go ahead and use use as usual. Thanks! ;)

    • Papa -  August 17, 2014 - 10:41 am

      without the word use you would be useless

  26. Mike -  March 27, 2012 - 10:28 pm

    I’m not sure it’s possible that a word can “die” or become “extinct” per se (quite literally, per “say”). The idea is PARADOXICAL. Afterall, how would we know a word is extinct? You’d have to use the word to announce it doesn’t exist. Hence, the blog article mentions “radiogram” is “nearly” extinct, because if it were completely extinct, we wouldn’t even be able to THINK the word, let alone include it in a blog article. (Because if we can think of a word, then it’s not extinct.)

    At this moment, for example, there are a whole host of words — I can only guess — that I don’t know about; so to me, they don’t exist. But to someone else, they may be used all the time.

    This is ultimately, i think, a semantics problem. Instead of saying words are dying or becoming extinct, it’d be more accurate to say words are dormant or have fallen out of everyday use.

    • Papa -  August 17, 2014 - 10:40 am

      Its happens all the time. The language of Shakespeare no longer exists but once did. I read old books all the time and often have to look up words that are no longer are in use or listed in the OED. The use of an F and S as the same letter no longer exists but once did and not that long ago.
      English words that have been adapted by Americans which enter the US vocabulary but not the English. eg: we say ” my house was burgled” you use the word burglarized which I don’t think is in our dictionary but certainly doesn’t get used as its not seen as a real word.

  27. CHRISTINA -  March 24, 2012 - 7:38 pm

    yeah i agree with THE Caitlyn becuz yeah, words can’t die!!!!!!!

    but… they can be forgotten, and also ignored..

  28. mary torres so uncuffed -  March 23, 2012 - 1:49 pm

    me too i want them back too but not realy

  29. jason hairman -  March 22, 2012 - 9:59 pm

    I want the soviet union back so they can speak the truth

  30. Grammar Forever -  March 21, 2012 - 3:36 pm

    Sorry, didn’t mean to post that much…

  31. Jessica -  March 21, 2012 - 3:21 am

    I agree, the spell checker is a lazy option for synonyms providing fundamental substitutes for words, the true intensity is never reached nor enlightenment. True gratification from words is unable to be satiated with refined resource from spelling checkers.

  32. THE Caitlyn -  March 20, 2012 - 7:30 pm

    Words cannot die!!!!!!!!!! Just saying, lol. :D

  33. Grammar Forever -  March 20, 2012 - 6:41 pm

    My last one was not as organized as I had wished it to be, so here:

    Wow, I did not know that there were so many people who felt just as I do…. I believe that one should be able to spell adequately without a machine; however, I do believe that rather than misspell something, one should confirm that it is correct. I also believe that grammar, pronunciation, and spelling should be stressed more than it is. It is very disheartening when in an English Three Honors class, people cannot differentiate between a pronoun and a preposition. It is also bad that they cannot sound intelligent, as their grasp of grammar has slipped to such a degree that they say ‘If me and my friend had not have ate, we will join you.’ instead of the correct and intelligent ‘If my friend and I had not (already) eaten, we would join you.’ I am always getting on to them about putting others before themselves, capitalizing ‘I’, and not ending sentences with prepositions, and those are the SIMPLEST of the grammar rules, and don’t get me started on ‘y’all’ and ‘a’int’… But, I digress…

    To answer the question, I believe that the language is not shrinking, but rather remaining constant. While you may not hear the archaic ‘forsooth’ much, many people still use the 17th century expression ‘to and fro’, and in addition to some old words still being kept alive (if only by studying Shakespeare and Tennyson), new words such as ‘nom’ and ‘meh’ ARE being made. Also, current words, such as the noun ‘friend’, are gaining new meanings, such as ‘friend’ becoming the verb ‘to befriend on Facebook’. I don’t actually use these words, but I do hear them throughout the day, so I know they are at least popular in my area and age group…

    On a side note, I believe that the following words should only be spelled as such:

    (In other words, Tennyson had it right when it came to spelling :) )

  34. Grammar Forever -  March 20, 2012 - 6:40 pm

    Sorry, the last one was not as organized as I wished (I’m new),so here:

    Wow, I did not know that there were so many people who felt just as I do…. I believe that one should be able to spell adequately without a machine; however, I do believe that rather than misspell something, one should confirm that it is correct. I also believe that grammar, pronunciation, and spelling should be stressed more than it is. It is very disheartening when in an English Three Honors class, people cannot differentiate between a pronoun and a preposition. It is also bad that they cannot sound intelligent, as their grasp of grammar has slipped to such a degree that they say ‘If me and my friend had not have ate, we will join you.’ instead of the correct and intelligent ‘If my friend and I had not (already) eaten, we would join you.’ I am always getting on to them about putting others before themselves, capitalizing ‘I’, and not ending sentences with prepositions, and those are the SIMPLEST of the grammar rules, and don’t get me started on ‘y’all’ and ‘a’int’… But, I digress…

    To answer the question, I believe that the language is not shrinking, but rather remaining constant. While you may not hear the archaic ‘forsooth’ much, many people still use the 17th century expression ‘to and fro’, and in addition to some old words still being kept alive (if only by studying Shakespeare and Tennyson), new words such as ‘nom’ and ‘meh’ ARE being made. Also, current words, such as the noun ‘friend’, are gaining new meanings, such as ‘friend’ becoming the verb ‘to befriend on Facebook’. I don’t actually use these words, but I do hear them throughout the day, so I know they are at least popular in my area and age group…

    On a side note, I believe that the following words should only be spelled as such:

    (In other words, Tennyson had it right when it came to spelling :) )

  35. Grammar Forever -  March 20, 2012 - 6:38 pm

    Wow, I did not know that there were so many people who felt just as I do…. I believe that one should be able to spell adequately without a machine; however, I do believe that rather than misspell something, one should confirm that it is correct. I also believe that grammar, pronunciation, and spelling should be stressed more than it is. It is very disheartening when in an English Three Honors class, people cannot differentiate between a pronoun and a preposition. It is also bad that they cannot sound intelligent, as their grasp of grammar has slipped to such a degree that they say ‘If me and my friend had not have ate, we will join you.’ instead of the correct and intelligent ‘If my friend and I had not (already) eaten, we would join you.’ I am always getting on to them about putting others before themselves, capitalizing ‘I’, and not ending sentences with prepositions, and those are the SIMPLEST of the grammar rules, and don’t get me started on ‘y’all’ and ‘a’int’… But, I digress…
    To answer the question, I believe that the language is not shrinking, but rather remaining constant. While you may not hear the archaic ‘forsooth’ much, many people still use the 17th century expression ‘to and fro’, and in addition to some old words still being kept alive (if only by studying Shakespeare and Tennyson), new words such as ‘nom’ and ‘meh’ ARE being made. Also, current words, such as the noun ‘friend’, are gaining new meanings, such as ‘friend’ becoming the verb ‘to befriend on Facebook’. I don’t actually use these words, but I do hear them throughout the day, so I know they are at least popular in my area and age group…
    On a side note, I believe that the following words should only be spelled as such:
    (In other words, Tennyson had it right when it came to spelling :) )

  36. MissHeadOfRedAhhEEE! -  March 20, 2012 - 8:37 am

    communication is always evolving, nothing really dies- it just grows in layers

  37. MissGingerlyWays -  March 20, 2012 - 8:26 am

    Hermione Granger – LOVE YOU! SENDS UBER HUGS! LOL ;) <3

    Hugs out fer every soul i have stolen!!!! :)

  38. Ray -  March 20, 2012 - 2:11 am

    Back to the original question:
    “Words are dying right now. Are you helping to kill them?”

    Looking at the standard of responses right here, I would answer: Yes, dictionary.com respondents are doing everything they can to kill words, clear language, and literacy generally.

  39. JJ in Chula Vista, CA -  March 19, 2012 - 11:00 pm

    I think the noun “radiogram” sounds much better and more professional than the noun “x-ray.” It doesn’t work quite as well, however, when turning into a verb, as in “the doctor radiogrammed the man’s leg,” for example.

  40. Yezenia -  March 19, 2012 - 10:00 pm

    I *love* the word rambunctious! ^_^

  41. iq145 -  March 19, 2012 - 9:38 pm

    Only a beatnic would let this happen… ☺

  42. Maya -  March 19, 2012 - 9:35 pm

    Actually, I doubt that the loss of misspellings is a negative at all, especially since some words when misspelt are honestly hard to understand. I don’t think the language is shrinking, since there are new “words” made every day, and though not in the dictionary now, might be a staple in future reference books.

    What IS sad, however, is that most of the younger people are victims of the “Spell-check generation”. Many are unable to spell words that aren’t part of their everyday “txt spk” and it is horrifying to try to proof read one of my classmate’s papers, since they can barely write beyond that. (“How do you spell ‘irritating’ anyway?” Connect face to palm here.)

    And this is coming from a fourteen year old junior high student. What is the universe coming to?

  43. Alex -  March 19, 2012 - 9:09 pm

    I will never say x-ray again. I’m going to start saying radiogram and roentgenogram from now on. I’ll sound so sma-ahrrt.

  44. THE Caitlyn -  March 19, 2012 - 8:16 pm


  45. THE Caitlyn -  March 19, 2012 - 8:13 pm

    Technically words cant die, they just come to an end……
    Lolz….im 14 so…. yea watever bye

  46. Edna -  March 19, 2012 - 8:06 pm

    I think the ‘death of variations’ (e.g. colors vs colours) is mainly caused by the fact that both Microsoft and Apple are US-based companies, and the default language setting is often set at American English. It’s frustrating, really, as I’ve been raised to use British spelling I hate how they auto-correct my ‘civilised’ and ‘colour’.
    And I do really think that young children (like maybe primary/elementary schoolchildren) should have less homework completed on the computer, or else their spelling will just get worse. We have been taught to pay due attention to words like ‘then’ and ‘than’, or ‘your’ and ‘you’re’. You just have to log on to Facebook to see how many teens or kids nowadays misspell these words.

  47. jason hairman -  March 19, 2012 - 7:31 pm

    I do not care if words die in fact i kill words why can’t we just use morse code or sign language and curse the president and his loser secret service agents and in fact here is a shout to the f.b.i. agents ,c.i.a. and nsa that are seeing this you suck losers get a life and stop stalking people idiots

  48. Sarah -  March 19, 2012 - 7:26 pm

    victor is correct, people use slang all the time. It annoys me so much, because I have to keep correcting them!

  49. Sarah -  March 19, 2012 - 7:23 pm

    Maybe people are gonna stop capitalizing I.

  50. Sarah -  March 19, 2012 - 7:22 pm

    When I read this article, I completely zoned out. The reason why is, there is rarely any proof, too many words I don’t even know, and it’s completely proved wrong by “Me. (The guy that posted the novel a few comments up) Anyway, I disagree too, the language is not shrinking, but rather growing. New words are being added and abbreviated. These abbreviations could become words just as “Me” said.

  51. jason hairman -  March 19, 2012 - 7:13 pm

    this is an international crisis people do good for our community start small with like words do it for our children future

  52. Matthew -  March 19, 2012 - 6:57 pm

    Personally, I for one have two careers I wish to have; one would be an astrophysicist and a writer, the latter being my main goal. I love the English language, and even though many words have become obsolete, i do my best to bring out the old, eccentric ones that not many people know of. In my essays, I look for words i would memorize later and then install them into the writing. This makes for better vocabulary, and makes you prestigious when in terms with your vocabulary and intelligence, and for one, being in the eighth grade, language does in fact boost your intelligence, because if you understanding more roots and more prefixes and suffixes, then you could decipher many more complex situations.
    This article frightens me, and knowing that maybe not many people have such high vocabularies (I do not consider myself to be an epic, simply much higher than average) but it would be best to keep the language alive.

  53. Keesa -  March 19, 2012 - 6:46 pm

    I love Mackenzie the sixth grader’s comment just below the article. She spells ‘because’ like bcoz.

    I can’t help but wonder if she understood the article and if this is the reason that English is ceasing to increase on paper. Can abbreviations kill a language?

  54. J-Wu33 -  March 19, 2012 - 6:27 pm


  55. Legendlover -  March 19, 2012 - 5:47 pm

    Not to mention the fact that in my school alone, tons of words have been resurected because of their cool sound or how much fun they are to say. Also, bringing older words into a paper for English really seems to impress the teachers. By the way, why is “gullible” not in normal paper dictionaries? :)?

  56. CHRISTINA -  March 19, 2012 - 5:46 pm

    hey Lillian, r u the same Lillian in my class in 6th grade?
    i am from Ryan Middle School M.S.216 , in New York City, Fresh Meadows 11365. i was just curious!

    P.S. Jam has the infinite knowledge of the universe.

    ^ that’s what the Lillian (or Lilli taught me)

  57. Brit -  March 19, 2012 - 5:31 pm

    I think that in some cases our vocab is becoming smaller, however some of the examples given are actually preserved in regional variations. I know that color is dominant in the US, but here in Australia and in the UK we tend to use colour (same with armor – armour and a few other similar ones) but equally there are others we are still loosing – I have not seen programme for ages!
    There are other examples of where there seem to be new words made up to replace a multitude of other words. I remember there being an announcement on the trains here asking passengers to “take care when detraining.” I wasn’t sure if “detrain” was a word (looking it up it is and it seems to be an older one too), but was not sure why the more common verbs of alight, get off, remove, depart or even leave were not better choices.
    Perhaps it just all comes down to the fact that we prefer to use some words more than others.

  58. Griff -  March 19, 2012 - 5:14 pm

    But… What? I mean, its not necessarily bad if words go away, we will read them in books and question what they mean, making them used in our lives as well.

  59. ReaderGirl -  March 19, 2012 - 5:12 pm

    Hey, Rustgold? you do realize that “old English” is ancient Welsh, right? Middle English is what people call the style used in Shakespeare’s plays.

  60. Karla -  March 19, 2012 - 4:45 pm

    I agree with this blog. Recently, there’s many teens that don’t write and speak correctly. I myself am a teenager and yes, I feel that we are losing many words. We’re just sticking to the easy vocabulary that we just regurgitate and honestly, I do it all the time. I think this just mostly applies to my generation which sadly, won’t go too far without the correct usage of words to express their own feelings, likes, and dislikes.

  61. Kati -  March 19, 2012 - 4:14 pm


  62. Hey me too! -  March 19, 2012 - 4:13 pm

    Kati and Hermione, can I be involved in your conversation, too???

  63. Hermione Granger -  March 19, 2012 - 4:11 pm

    Well, o’course, Kati, but this is for information about the topic only! Sorry. :( Is spell check really bad, though? It’s hard to believe that spell check is killing words!

    :( :) ;) :$ :%

    Kati, why’re ya worried about me not liking your name? I love it, especially the spelling. :) :) :) :)

  64. Kati -  March 19, 2012 - 4:06 pm

    Hermione! Don’t you like my name???

  65. Holly -  March 19, 2012 - 4:06 pm


  66. Hermione Granger -  March 19, 2012 - 4:05 pm

    MissGingerlyWays… LUV THAT NAME!!!

  67. Hermione Granger -  March 19, 2012 - 4:02 pm

    The only problem with spell check is the fact that if I’m ever writing a story with some crazy name that’s a lot like another word, it just goes “click” and changes into that word! It’s impossible to type that name! Even though words are dying, which is truly sad, I think it would be cool if they had like a grammar check that understood your sentences. If I wrote,
    “The boy asked, ‘Witch cooky is biggest?’”
    then it would understand my sentence and change it to,
    “The boy asked, ‘Which cookie is biggest?’”
    It never corrects homophones and stuff, even if it doesn’t make sense in the sentence! Otherwise, spell check is pretty handy and I learn quite a bit from it.
    Spell check is da bomb!


    (Put a winky face ;) at the bottom of your message if you agree with the fact that it would be fun if we had homophone and grammar check. “Wink” “wink” apple company! :) No offense to apple cuz I luv it)

  68. The Real Me -  March 19, 2012 - 3:25 pm

    I am extremely disapointed in the unfortunate style my imitators possess. In fact, it should be quite ovbious to all but the most dense that they were mimicking me. Oh, and Algebramaster 159- prosaic means boring, which does rather contradict your second statement that this was “interesting to look at”. And as for an Algebramaster, I doubt you know e past 10 digits, and it would suprise me if you had heard of tau.

  69. victor -  March 19, 2012 - 3:20 pm

    I think that words like Ain’t shouldn’t even be used

  70. mary torres so uncuffed -  March 19, 2012 - 2:55 pm

    hey yall what it do? lol :)

  71. Ann lee -  March 19, 2012 - 2:38 pm

    WOW, people really? Why are we all freaking out over slang words “killing” the English language? They will soon become normal English. Nothing wrong with that. Language changes, every generation adds their own twists and flavors. That’s wonderful in my opinion. Now spelling is a different story. Spell-check makes typing faster and easier, but can whittle down your spelling skills. However, soon everything will be on computers and the need for being a good speller will vanish. It’s sad but true. Let’s just relax and lay off on the teens. Let them use their creativity to alter the English language just like the previous generations. And don’t give me the “the things they’re writing aren’t really words!” line. If it’s communicating thoughts and ideas effectively, I think it can be considered a word. In fact, the new words are better than the old ones, because they are more efficient. So chill.

    Joy Buikema: Yes teens are “re-writing” the English language. Just like you and your peers did in your hay-day.

    • Eibhlín De Nógla -  January 17, 2015 - 9:28 am

      What a lot of rubbish! Slang words are not in the least ‘correct words’ for appearing in print, unless as part of a cartoon bubble!

      I do NOT believe that ‘slang words’ will enter the mainstream of the English language and teenagers over generations have certainly NOT changed the basic tenets of the English language; in fact I believe many teenagers have done quite the opposite, and not only teenagers either-adults also frequently in fact, use slang words, rather than correct words and use appalling grammar, either lazy in their approach, not checking words in a goid quality dictionary or going to the bother of learning grammar correctly.
      The mis-use of ‘their, there and they’re’ and of ‘your, you’re’ really frustrates me and really is basic grammar not being used and is widespread amongst many young adults, as well as teenagers.
      Using ‘spell check’ on computers is a very lazy habit to practise, as unless the tool bar on PCs, Lap Top Computers, or Ipads, etc, for ‘English ‘variant’ of the word-which is THE only correct version of the word in the English language, then the ‘spell check’ will default to an Americanized version of the word-but is still technically, incorrect!

      So how about investing in a decent quality English dictionary AND a good quality thesaurus, which in time , with frequent usage, one WILL indeed remember the correct spelling of a word, and via a Thesaurus, find other ways of saying the same thing, actually developing a much wider vocabulary for ANY writing, af school, at work, in fact, for any situation.
      I am an academic and find nothing worse than badly constructed sentences, with incorrect use of words, the incorrect spelliing of same, or bad grammar. When growing up, if I or my siblings did not comprehend the meaning of a word, whether for homework purposes, or reading a book for pleasure, we were never told the meaning of the word by either parent, but sent to look it up in the ‘big family dictionary’- a good quality one, compared to the limited contents of smaller school textbook sized dictionaries-and why? My Father, now nearly 87 explained it thus: if you go to the trouble of looking it up in the doctionary, you are far more inclined to remember its meaning, the next time you encountered the word once more and additionally, you would also see different variants of the use of the word, which would also broaden your vocabulary- both proven to be true!
      As for the writer who stated rather flippantly that it is not essential to use correct spelling or grammar-I utterly disagree; if that were a cogent or coherent argument, then in parallel terms one could argue that is is not essential to be in a position to count, addd, subtract, multiply , divide figures correctly- which is patently untrue, as if so, nobody could conduct a correct financial transaction of any kind. I am suugesting that, as most people work out household budgets and claim expenses from employers, whenever necessary, and if one takes the time to learn the basics of math, for even everyday usevin life, then the same respect should be awarded the use of the English language.

      Better to use plain language, with both correct spelling and grammar comstruction, than trying to use ‘grandiose’ words, and complicated grammatical construction. A love of reading will always improve one’s bocabulary, etc…. but when in doubt, keep it simple and forget the ‘spell checker’- laziness personified as far as I am concerned, but then, that is merely my own personal opinion.

      As to ‘words dying’ from the English language, I do not believe that this is true. I believe however that a coherent argument could be made that many words in the English language are now used by a smaller percentage of people. In this high-technology age, between texting, instant messaging, etc….at least two generations of young people abbreviate everything they write. However, should the above appear on a formal school, college, etc., academic paper, essay or assignment of ANY kind, I suggest it be returned to the student concerned, to re-write it correctly, or fail the paper submitted. The use of words will only ‘die’ away, if slang and abbreviated ‘texting’ words are allowed to become part of mainstream writing.

      Another more sinister aspect of all of the anove has not been mentioned in any of the comments I have seen to date, that of professional journalists using inappropriate bad language in mainstream broadsheet newspapers! This astounds me, as surely even Newspaper Editors actually ‘edit’
      articles for content and ‘proof-readers’ hopefully still ‘proof-read’ texts and articles- yet bad language I believe is as bad if not worse a problem in contemporary newspapers and nobody seems to
      care????? What sort of message does this send our younger generations, if slang words, or bad language is accepted as ‘the norm’ in newsprint, which they themselves now read, for many secondary school essay /project material and quotations.

      Anything that is not frequently used will
      fall into disrepair, ‘seize up’ or ‘rust away’; or if frequently used, but incorrectly so, and left unchallenged as to its lack of correctness, will merely create ‘distortions’ of the original
      words intended to be used. English is not my ‘first language’, Gaeilge is; but I was given my greatest gift of my life as a young child, a love of reading, in both languages. My live of reading has remained with me for all
      of my 51 years and my greatest joy, after my passion for History of Art-my profession. Many words and expressions ‘as Gaeilge’ simply cannot be literally translated into the English language; yet, throughout my life, I have never used this as an excuse to write English incorrectly, always check my spelling of words, when in doubt regarding same, and also endeavour to continue, even now, to
      further my vocabulary, as a means to more articulate speech and more interesting pieces of written work. There is an old expression in the Irish language, called ‘Gaeilge’, as ‘Irish’
      is merely another ‘Anglicized’ word for the imdigenous Irish language. The expression
      is : “Is Tír gan teanga, Tír gan anam”, which roughly translates as “A country without a language of its own, is a country without a soul”.
      So, my final point is that the English language is another beautiful language and deserves respect, in the use of its words (and its words not falling into an ‘abyss’), correct spelling and correct use of grammar. Afterall, would anyone like to be over-charged for goods or services purchased, or be given incorrect change from a financial
      transaction of any kind? I believe not; and imagine how you would feel if the person whom treated you thus, remained flippant about it, as though it was of no great consequence, in the greater scheme of things and did not occur on simply one occasion only, but on a regular and protracted basis!!!

  72. ziggy -  March 19, 2012 - 2:22 pm

    this is horrible words dying nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

  73. TheEternalCoruptor -  March 19, 2012 - 1:50 pm

    Is there any way we could send in a word for consideration to be added to the dictionary? thanks in advanced, moo man

  74. Kaden -  March 19, 2012 - 1:49 pm

    I don’t know about spell-check killing language, but I do know that I killed spell-check once. I was working on a long document with lots of Japanese words in it, and suddenly a box popped up that said, “Spell check has encountered too many errors and has to shut down.”

    I still laugh about it to this day… that even the mighty spell-check gives up when the going gets too tough.

  75. My name is me, too -  March 19, 2012 - 1:08 pm

    As unfortunate as it is that there is a massive subset of the population being dumbed-down by our educational system, “convenience technology”, etc.; it seems to me this population will always be relegated to certain levels of educational and career attainment.
    Word usage may be shrinking, in general, but that doesn’t equate to words “dying” (in my view). Rather, there are far fewer people with an expansive vocabulary (and they’ll probably spend most of their time and effort communicating with others of the same mind…but that’s starting a whole new discussion…).

  76. tigerstripes -  March 19, 2012 - 12:45 pm

    Spell-check often tells me words I use don’t exist; then I check them on dictionary.com. Today, for instance, I got dinged using ‘claddagh’, which is a perfectly lovely word.
    I never use a spell-checker as the final authority. It’s just a program, so remember, gigo.

    • Eibhlín De Nógla -  January 17, 2015 - 10:20 am

      ‘Really enjoyed your experience of the use of the word ‘Claddagh’- an Irish geographic area in the West of Ireland, which also gave rise to the famed piece of ‘love jewellery’ of the same name: The Claddagh ring. Before I got to the end of your piece, I guessed what you were going to say. I only recently discovered that on a Google User Support website, in a ‘drop down’ Menu of languages, the Irish language of Gaeilge is not even featured at all!!! I was appalled as Gaeilge should indeed feature there, as an officially recognized AND ‘a working language’ of the European Union, and recognized as our first language in our Constitution! Many Irish citizens speak English only, many others are bi-lingual and a very small percentage speak Gaeilge only, on a day to day basis. However, ALL members of both houses of the Oireachtas (Government) and Seanad (Senate), are obliged to be in a position to write and speak through both languages, as do ALL of the members of the Civil Service. Gaeilge is now offered by a number of Sevice Providers also, e.g., the main electrical supply company. I believe that a similar parallel in terms of Google’s lack
      of recognition of the indigenous Irish language of Gaeilge, in the afore-mentioned ‘drop down’ menu, would be for French not to
      be recognized as an official language in Canada! Oh la la- je pense que les citoyens de Quebec, qui parlent le Français tous les jours ne seront pas d’accord avec ça, pas du tout!
      So I am hoping, in consideration of Google’s generous ‘Corporation Tax’ status in Ireland, its high business profile, with very substantial office space, in the heart of the Dublin Docklands Development, and boasting highly-qualified staff, many of whom are ‘Irish-born’ IT graduates, in addition to the fact that Google has been listed as the No. 1 Company operating in Ireland, as featured in ‘The Irish Times’ Business Sector Pull-Out Magazine recently, of over 1,000 companies listed therein, that Google might consider adding the very old, and well-respected indigenous Irish language, to a ‘Drop-Down Menu’, providing a sheer extensive &
      exhaustive list of languages, from all over the world, featured on its Customer Service website and rather insulting to native Irish speakers, with such an operating presence and all of the facilities accorded Google, in our Capital city.

  77. Me -  March 19, 2012 - 11:44 am

    I’m guessing people on facebook ‘don hav dat spellz chk’ right? I mean, I’m alright If you want to put a ‘u’ instead of you once and awhile, but come one, stop degrading our generation.

  78. CindyG -  March 19, 2012 - 11:37 am

    wow “Words are dying right now. Are you helping to kill them?”
    ow are we kilig the?? wll i knw thats not really but still

  79. MissGingerlyWays -  March 19, 2012 - 11:16 am

    so youre in a forest
    you see two female deer
    you see the doe & the doe see you
    than they look at eachother
    and doe see doe!

    Swwwwwwwwwing ya partner round and round!!

  80. clancy -  March 19, 2012 - 10:51 am

    I kinda think that this is very interesting, language being changed by technology. Then again, people used to think that computers and TV would change something of this sort anyway. I guess Grandma was right.

    This might make a cool comic sometime!

  81. Misora27 -  March 19, 2012 - 10:43 am

    The problem is not programs that check spelling and grammar. These are symptoms of a larger problem:

    The vocabulary base of younger generations is not being expanded. The average person uses a 1,000 word vocab everyday, whilst there are 220,000 words in the Oxford English Dictionary. Granted, some of those words are technical jargon that the average person would not use, but still, THAT’S .005% OF AVAILABLE VOCABULARY.
    Thusly (spelling check seems to be suffering from the same illness as our young people, because it informed me this was not a word), words that most older generations know and even use (more often in writing, but infrequently in speech), make the younger generations go, “huh?” I once had a young teenager ask me what “rut” meant (as in “a rut in the road”)!
    The second issue is that in the era of fast-paced digital media, everything to be read (that’s NOT a printed book) is short, concise, to-the-point, easily digestible. There’s “no time” for kids to sit down and read atrociously long classics like The Count of Monte Cristo anymore. They’d rather watch the movie! >: /
    Concordantly, reading books has become, to young people, a huge and boring chore. They usually don’t want to engage in a book that might take them 20 hours to read, because they’d rather get the Cliff Notes version and then spend their remaining 19 hours engaging in something they deem “productive” – video games, hanging out with friends, watching TV.

    Our CULTURE is kicking most of its own language to the curb, because we “don’t have time” to understand words we don’t already know from TV, movies, and what little reading we do on our phones and computers. I live in a small town, and sometimes when I interact with the teenagers in the area, I’ll say a “big” word and have to stop to explain myself – something like “nonchalantly,” “incorrigible,” or “magnanimous.” I have a degree in English Literature. I read – a lot. So, I know a lot of words (at least compared to the majority of people I know).
    But most kids don’t. They’re not encouraged to spend their time in such a manner. The “death” of our language is not caused by technology, but by our deeper yearning to have everything expedient and convenient. And the coup de grace: Reading has been proven to make you smarter. It’s no wonder we’re losing our language; we’re encouraging our kids to become less intelligent by the decade.

  82. Phil -  March 19, 2012 - 10:14 am

    I don’t belive words are dying for lack of use but because of lack of knowlege. “We” simply don’t have the knowlege of the various subjects any longer therefore we don’t use the words.

    You see a word represents a concept or idea that men have deemed important enough to give it a unique name. If we lack the knowlege of an idea how is it we will use the word. That is why vocabulary represents knowlege and our vocablulary as americans is shrinking.

    My quintessential example is: When I sat down to read the federalist articles. They are published newspaper articles that the founding fathers wrote from about 1787 to persuade Americans to vote for ratification of the constitution. I had to read the articles in one hand and have a dictionary in the other. The problem was I simply didn’t have the learning of the average American reading a 1787 news paper. I simply never received that rigor of education even with a college degree. You must also remember that a newspaper is written to garner the largest possible audience to sell more newspapers, so newspapers written at that time were written to an 8th grade education the lowest common denominator.

    So I submit its lack of knowledge generates lack of usage and death of language.

  83. Error-E76-1 -  March 19, 2012 - 9:54 am

    (Yes I make Error’s An I’m proud of that)

  84. Error-E76-1 -  March 19, 2012 - 9:53 am

    I believe that the english dictionary is not dying or shrinking. I believe with Kids making all sorts of different words these day’s its actually expanding not shrinking. For example, Urban Dictionary People just combine any word they think of into another word an make up a deffinition of the word. I’m Curious to know why people are saying that the english dictionary is shrinking. Also with all the older word that people don’t use anymore may seem like its shrinking, But my personal opinion is that it’s getting Bigger. (

  85. John Redding -  March 19, 2012 - 9:42 am

    Spell check has helped me bea better speller. When I did my masters omline, I had to write a lot. The spell check also increased my vocabulary by seeing suggestions it gave.. It is a valuable tool in developing language. The reason words come and go is due to nessecity more than anything else,

  86. TheNewFWord -  March 19, 2012 - 9:15 am

    It’s been proven that spellcheck improves spelling for those who aren’t the best at spelling. It does not allow you to leave a word spelled incorrectly, therefore, the person has to look up the correct spelling of the word before it is acceptable. I definitely think it is important for people to learn how to spell without assistance and reliance on technology, but it certainly helps. Language is always evolving and changing, there’s nothing we can do to stop it, it’s just part of life.

  87. Anthony -  March 19, 2012 - 9:13 am

    In English the word ‘radiogram’ refers to an all-in-one piece of furniture which contained a radio, a record deck and sometimes a tape deck, along with amplifier and speakers.

    They were very big and very popular in the 1950s and 1960s. The word has dropped out of usage as the furniture did, to be replaced by more compact ‘music centres’.

    Never, ever (in 60 years of life) heard an X-ray referred to as a ‘radiogram’, though this may be true for american, but it has never been true for english.

  88. galensdad -  March 19, 2012 - 9:03 am

    Or “scrofulous.”

  89. galensdad -  March 19, 2012 - 9:02 am

    The grossest word is “scabrous.”

  90. kkkkkkkkkkkkkkk -  March 19, 2012 - 8:56 am


  91. Wolf -  March 19, 2012 - 8:55 am

    “…due largely to the extinction of both misspelled words and nonsensical print errors, and…decreased birth rate of new misspelled variations.”

    The language is shrinking due to the romoval of garbage words. Aside from the loss of a little “American flavor”, I see this as a positive thing. Removing accepted misspellings and the like streamlines the language; makes it more accurate and efficient.

    A cultures language says much about the culture itself. What does our heretofore acceptance of these words say about us?

  92. Hippie -  March 19, 2012 - 8:29 am

    I would disagree with some people about the fact that spell-check kills people’s minds. I am very young, I have lived with spell-check my entire life, yet I can still spell. The main reason that I like spell-check is not because I do not know how to spell a word, but because I may make a typing error that needs corrected. Also, I write be hand a lot more than I type, so spell-check clearly isn’t obliterating my need to spell correctly. My whole family and I have an extensive vocabulary which isn’t decreased by the overall popularity of the word in today’s society.
    Also, spell-check sincerely helps people who have dyslexia or other spelling issues.
    Yes, spell-check should be used in moderation, but it doesn’t kill us if we know how to use it in the proper way.

  93. Malanie -  March 19, 2012 - 8:04 am

    It is true that the english language is dying a little each day, but it is also being reborn with new slang terms that create new ways to speak english. Englihs is like a river, constantly changing and moving forward. I take comfort in the fact that it would be extremely difficult to kill such a language.

  94. David Michael Williams -  March 19, 2012 - 7:15 am

    I was writing my own blog post on the woes of word choice limitations (i.e., having to “dumb down” writing due to an average reader’s decline in vocabulary) and came across this article. Thanks for giving me some more ammunition for my argument—and for fueling my fears!

    Here’s one writer’s perspective on endangered and extinct words in the English language: http://david-michael-williams.com/2012/03/19/one-million-wordsin-theory/.

  95. lester -  March 19, 2012 - 6:57 am

    Brown out. Same words put together to mean something different. Thank you “It’s Always Sunny in Phili”.

  96. FerinyaGrace -  March 19, 2012 - 6:41 am

    Yes, language evolves, but like Random Person and Lady Lyra pointed out it is very scary to hear (read) that people are actually for the decrease of vocabulary! Especially from a teacher! We need to be very careful about how much we allow technology to dictate how and what we learn. I recently read “Matched” by Ally Condie, the Society in her trilogy restricts knowledge severely, people only know the minimum of what is necessary to perform their vocation and thinking isn’t often considered necessary. Writing by hand is not taught or allowed, they rely on something called a Scribe where they are required to type only very concise messages. I’m all for language evolving naturally but I don’t want this type of future! Too few of our younger generations value words, grammar, and knowledge!

  97. Kati -  March 19, 2012 - 6:38 am

    What words are dying out, anyway?

  98. Kati -  March 19, 2012 - 6:38 am

    Wow! This is so interesting! I’ll impress my friends with this info!

  99. Dave -  March 19, 2012 - 6:21 am

    Word usage changes, but I can’t comprehend how speel-chuckers are reducing our vocabulary.
    It’s more to do with poorer education of youngsters who grow up with a narrow knowledge of language. This is not just at school, but is most definitely by careless parents who don’t use language correctly and then amongst peers. This has been exacerbated by the use of text-speech and street-speak.
    I get angry at people who use the word “sick” to mean good – and moreso when everything good that they do is referred to as “sick”. How do you know how good it is?
    What’s wrong with:
    ‘great’, ‘brilliant’, ‘superb’, ‘fantastic’, ‘amazing’, ‘wonderful’, ‘exciting’,
    ‘splendid’, etc?
    Laziness kills words, not spelling checkers.

  100. alice -  March 19, 2012 - 5:52 am

    This is pretty interesting. They didn’t touch on the dumbing-down of words such as “thru” or slang words being added to the dictionary and used regularly.
    A person who learns english via textbooks and classes is likely to have a vastly different vocabulary than a person who learned english by simply jumping right into english movies, tv, music, and games.

  101. Cornelius Lambshank -  March 19, 2012 - 5:50 am

    Word shrinkage? double plus ungood.

  102. Joy Buikema -  March 19, 2012 - 4:42 am

    I Would have to agree 100%. This is precisely the reason that I found this site. I have personally driven by road-side vegetstands in California where every vegetable was spelled incorrectly. Was this a ploy to get people to stop?
    Well, I must be frank, as it had the totally opposite effect on me, which was to look for the next vegetable stand.
    And then there is the world of texting. There are so many shortened phrases. For one example, btw = by the way. My son is constantly asking me if I know what something stands for. Our young people (per texting) are currently “re-writing” the English language, and we are closing our eyes.
    Now this is fun. Go to Youtube and look up John Branyan-three little pigs. It may be The three little pigs. Either way, if you are a word “buff”, and really desire to see what is happening to the English language, you will get the point! Have a fantastic, tremendously incrediable, and awesome day!

  103. Mark Allett -  March 19, 2012 - 4:06 am

    Of course I’ve heard of a radiogram. In English hospitals x-rays are performed by a radiologist in the radiology department and are often referred to as radiograms – especially by those in the medical profession (not that I am).

  104. Lulu -  March 19, 2012 - 3:47 am

    The reason why the dictionary is dying is because one we really don’t know how to spell. Two because we are to busy being correct on spelling that new synonyms can not be added. Also I thought Europe and Australia spelled color colour.

  105. Bill -  March 19, 2012 - 2:57 am

    Naturally, the oligarchs want the most richly developed language on the planet quashed. That makes it much easier to usher in the New Dark Ages.

    Lady Lyra hit the nail on the head – George Orwell had it right. He wrote the handbook entitled, ‘Nineteen Eighty~Four’

  106. Aspiring Novelist -  March 19, 2012 - 2:50 am

    I must say, the rate at which words are disappearing from dictionaries is staggering. I was playing SCRABBLE with my wife the other day, (FYI i never learned how to spell in school–special education doesn’t bother teaching that; they only want you to graduate and stop taking up space) and she pulls out this webster’s dictionary printed in 2005 to look up the word ‘armour’. Of course, she didn’t find it. So, after going to through two other dictionaries, i finally found it in one printed in the late 70s.

    I think someone should hospitalize whoever is taking words out of the dictionary.

    I am only 26 years old; but, because i started reading novels that were printed in the 1950s, i have come to enjoy a verity of different styles of writing. There have been changes to the english writing style throughout history–variations appearing every 5-15 years…………. UNTIL THE YEAR 2000. As soon as the Harry Potter books came out, the english language hit a brick wall. Now with the Twilight ….er….. toilet….. Saga…. it is simply getting worse.

    All i can say is that i hope i can find a publishing house to accept my novel series. America… nay, the world, NEEDS the next great work of literary art… if only to stimulate the minds, set fire to the souls, and give rise to a new brand of creativity that will reawaken the passions of english instructors-especially this generation’s artists.

    e-mail me if you know of any publishing houses interested in a new fiction/fantasy/sci-fie novel series. its been in the works for almost half my life.

  107. Gerrol -  March 19, 2012 - 2:21 am

    It’s interesting, I was just typing a forum post and discovered that many compound words commonly accepted in the gaming world are redlined by spellcheck.
    See, Firefox doesn’t even like ‘spellcheck’!

  108. Piquerish -  March 18, 2012 - 11:53 pm

    Frankly, I gave up on the English language, at least, when I realized that people actually have made “sculpt” a word.

  109. Amy -  March 18, 2012 - 11:47 pm


  110. A Passerby -  March 18, 2012 - 9:35 pm

    The US is running out of gas. Our dollar currency is falling. Now the English language is shrinking. What next!?

  111. Rustgold -  March 18, 2012 - 9:26 pm

    People should get a reality grip.

    Quote blog : “misspelled words and nonsensical print errors”

    This being the basis of the blog’s assessments highlights this blog as a serious fail, and dictionary.com should be ashamed of themselves for giving credence to this garbage.

    Misspelled words aren’t actually unique words, and maybe instead of bemoaning previous bad spelling, we should be pleased that people are spelling better.

    This blog is a serious fail.

  112. private -  March 18, 2012 - 8:30 pm

    “In the past 10-20 years, the total number of distinct words has significantly decreased”

    B.S., no way. The only reason why they came to that conclusion is because they’re only counting words that officially make it into the dictionary, and those words are selected based on an increasingly antiquated methodology – which is to only use words that have made it into major publications or other official sources of established print media companies. But the world is now much more connected informally and much more based online.

    So while the word “roentgenogram” may be obsolete now, the dictionary isn’t adding in the explosion of new words that’s occurring in the language right now, because they’re relegating all these new words to the unofficial “slang” dictionary. This is simply because the editors of the official dictionaries use an outdated selection criteria.

    For instance, if you say to anyone under 40 that you saw a guy who had gold grills on all his front teeth, the VAST majority of people will know exactly what you mean. Will the word still be understood by most people 50 years from now? Maybe, maybe not, but again that’s because the very nature of english itself is changing. Just like everything else in modern society, the pace of new things coming in and old things becoming obsolete is growing faster and faster. And naturally, language is matching that same exponential increase in evolution.

    TL;DR – the number of english words is increasing, not decreasing, and the only reason why the authors of this paper think otherwise is because they’re using outdated methodology.

  113. Sadia Reza -  March 18, 2012 - 8:04 pm

    Sounds to me like Orwell’s dystopian vision of the world is coming trueeeeee. No, but seriously, that is actually exactly what he predicted, minus the part about a department in the government existing literally to limit the language and limit capacity for independent thinking. But who knows, even that may be possible. This is not a surprise considering this generation though.

  114. José -  March 18, 2012 - 7:05 pm

    That says how educated our people really are in this era. It’s sad and exciting at the same time to see how language evolves.

  115. Oh Noes -  March 18, 2012 - 6:58 pm

    Well, I can see ‘definately’ making its way into the dictionary and replacing ‘definitely’ as the correct spelling. *gags*

    I dread the day ‘alot’ becomes correct, and ‘a lot’ incorrect.

  116. Al -  March 18, 2012 - 6:22 pm

    The point of words in the first place is to relay our thought and opinions and to communicate with each other. As long as we have enough words to relay what we want to say, it doesn’t really matter how many words there are. If spell check is “harming” language by shrinking it, then I don’t actually think it’s doing much harm. It is, however, discouraging people from proof reading their work, which is why I recently handed in a science assignment on food chains that read “…all food chains start with pants…”

    As for the change of a word’s meaning (as mentioned by Sean) we’ll always have the poets using words in obscure ways to make things flow. Massive will mean something with much mass whenever heavy hasn’t enough syllables.

  117. Aspartame -  March 18, 2012 - 6:07 pm

    so what’s bad about it? the written language is getting rid of its errors. it doesn’t really shrink but actually is correcting itself. what it says should just be that it’s not growing any bigger–not that it’s shrinking.

  118. sam -  March 18, 2012 - 5:22 pm

    You murderour see look i am not going to spell check haha but ever here of chensology didn’t think so!!!

  119. Maria -  March 18, 2012 - 5:09 pm

    Also text chat (also known as tard talk) is killing a lot of words and indeed language as well as intellect. A lot of people don’t understand the meaning of the simplest of words these days. It’s terrible, just terrible, if it continues we’ll all be living in a world of illiterates again.

  120. David -  March 18, 2012 - 5:07 pm

    Languages tend toward simplification unless there is an outward force that actively complicates them, such as the annexing of a territory or nation in which different languages are spoken. English is a particularly rich language because if its history of inclusiveness, and the hegemony of the British Empire. As tempting as it is to look to technology as the most likely culprit, is is probable that English would be “trending” toward simplification even without it.

  121. LOLz -  March 18, 2012 - 5:03 pm

    Wow… i killed some words.

  122. Kate -  March 18, 2012 - 4:45 pm

    Idioms are slang that made it into the dictionary (he’s a jerk; she’s a peach). Spell-check is a great tool if you can already spell, but it is likely to lead you astray (dying word) otherwise. Too many times I see lead for led, then for than, and many more, because spell-check knows no meanings. A lot of dying words are being replaced by other variations, like piousness for piety; it’s a kind of laziness to make a noun of any adjective by adding -ness rather than using the classic form (especially if you have to look it up). Actually, the language is probably growing, because new words are necessary to describe an increasingly complex world. A couple of hundred years ago no one needed gaydar (this one will definitely stick) or Internet or typewriter, let alone computer. And words get co-opted to new meanings. Say posse today and no one thinks you mean a bunch of guys dashing off to catch a horse thief. The really interesting thing is what is happening to the tension between innovation and tradition. Innovation is winning for now, as with nouns used as verbs. When I was a kid (15th century or thereabouts [another dying word], journal was a noun, as was transition, and my English teacher would have had a myocardial infarction (new ones) if I had used them as verbs.

    Here’s a thought: Pick a dying word you like and use it often to try to keep it alive. I’m working on yonder, but no one so far is picking it up from me (sigh).

    Full disclosure: I’m a copy editor, and I look things up all the time. I found this when I was gearing up to do today’s crossword.

    Glad to know you youngsters (dying word) are interested in this stuff.

  123. Jan... -  March 18, 2012 - 4:33 pm

    As I posted in the previous ‘announcement’ from August 2011:

    “Just because certain words are not being searched for excessively does not mean the words are not being used by individuals in actuality.

    The case might be, words not being excessively searched for are words that are being used by individuals who know its exact meaning. If someone learns of these individuals’ choice of words, then, new words are introduced to him/her and, of course, a dictionary must be used to identify the meanings.

    That person is then given the opportunity to ‘adopt’ new, significant, words.”

    Treasure our Historical Valuables and keep them available for OUR future generations!

    Read more at http://hotword.dictionary.com/obsolete-words/#b2bbU8VV5fFOA8vi.99

  124. Starrygirl -  March 18, 2012 - 4:22 pm

    Personally I can’t decide if spell check is a good or bad thing. I think people should honestly stop speaking illiterately online, while texting, and other means of communication that involve typing. I believe spell check to be helpful when it corrects mistakes I would normally catch by myself if I reread what I write, but I hate it when people begin to rely on it. I think disappearing words is fine, I mean look at all the Shakespearean words that never survived.

    But anyways… All you illiterate people out there… TYPE LIKE A LITERATE. (We should have a literate movement…)

    (Okay yes I have a vivid imagination and this would probably not happen but…) [Also, this barely has anything to do with this article. xD]
    Imagine when we run out of resources because of overuse of all of nature’s stuff. While we had always relied on technology (that no longer work due to no electricity from no natural gases), maybe one day animals will start to eat all the fat lazy us that did nothing but sat around near some piece of technology every single day of our lives. Then all the humans die out… the end. [Yes this was very random.]

  125. Susannah -  March 18, 2012 - 4:19 pm

    Spelling checkers have a definite influence on the words that we use, or don’t use.

    I logged on to dictionary.com to check the spelling of the word “spelt”. This is a perfectly legitimate, relatively common, word – with two distinct meanings. Yet the spell checker tells me that it is “wrong”. So I begin to doubt my own knowledge of how the word is spelt. I will continue to use the word despite the squiggly red line under it. But how many others will stand up to the tyranny of the red line?

  126. Allison -  March 18, 2012 - 4:04 pm

    I have always been very good at spelling and understand phonics but I like spell check because it does not let little mistakes slip like typing errors. I think that people depend on it too much and people that do depend on it too much might accidentally let spell check turn the word that they are trying to spell into another word. I do think spell check has its benefits but people should not depend on it too much. I know people that have dyslexia and it makes it hard for them to spell but that is not because they are lazy. They struggle to study and learn how to spell and they try really hard to understand. Also I believe that the English language is definitely growing. People still speak it. People from all over the world with different cultures and different dialects, people who come from different backgrounds. Much more than any language up to date. This means that many more words are “dying” than before but also more words are being created than before too. English, any language, will continue growing until people finish speaking it. Latin is a dead language- no one speaks it as a first language any more, it is no longer growing. People speak English as a first language and so it is still growing.

  127. Kaitlyn -  March 18, 2012 - 3:48 pm

    I’m very young, thirteen actually, and I absolutely HATE it when people misspell words and such, or leave annoying abbreviations. Just seeing the annoying ways people type certain things make me want to punch them. And I never knew spell check could kill words? Whoa…

  128. DictionFan -  March 18, 2012 - 2:57 pm

    a language that has its users unknowingly kill it is doomed to die.
    Yup it is ppl, and it’s coming soon, especially with all these abbreviations an stuff. Guess what? Wii is still wrong in some ‘updated’ spell check formats! Is it just me, or are our computers being out of date killing the English language?

  129. shawn -  March 18, 2012 - 2:43 pm

    Is there a need to morn these words? If so let me know when the vigil is to be held.
    Something I noticed not mentioned was the use of net-speak further destroying the language. Now it has become kool (and the gang) to misspell words to show peeps ur in the know. WTF. However I too am guilty of using net-speak when it serves my purpose as shown. lol

  130. Grammar Ma'am -  March 18, 2012 - 12:50 pm

    I see how words are shrinking..but is it a problem? Sure, our vocabulary is shrinking..but if we spoke the same words, then wouldn’t we be able to understand each other better????? Who talks like Shakespeare anymore? Thou farst blah blah love blah tragedy…

  131. Josie -  March 18, 2012 - 12:45 pm

    Spell check helps me a lot, but I do tend to use the more extint words when I write (I’m an author). I’m also 13 years old and my generation is probably one of the largest contributors to synonym death. xD

  132. mary torres so swagging -  March 18, 2012 - 11:41 am

    cant say it better then myslef!words die never knew wow 1

  133. Donald J Shombert -  March 18, 2012 - 11:31 am

    Spell-Check is killing grammar and common sense. People who are not really literate write things, then run them through spell-check and think “Now it’s okay”. But they have use words incorrectly (usually homonyms) and don’t know it. If the incorrect word is spelled correctly, it passes; if it isn’t spelled correctly, spell-check may correct the spelling, but it can’t correct the usage. Even published books and articles sometimes have this defect. I refuse to read anything where the writer does not know the English language and misuses words. So Their, Two!!!

  134. jkgoose -  March 18, 2012 - 10:51 am

    I’m sure the physicists working on this study meant well but the way I see it what is shrinking the use of vocabulary in people is a weak thesaurus, the media, and the spelling of words.

    A weak thesaurus that does not encompass all synonyms including the “big” words. Consider the words good, better, greater, best, greatest, look at them in a thesaurus: are there words that appear in all of them; are there words that could be added that you could find in an unabridged dictionary?

    The media play an important rule in vocabulary usage. If you compare news stories from the 40s and 50s and the vocabulary used then verses now, it’s completely devoid of those words. The news media and others dumb down their stories to a junior high level so people can read the articles.

    The spelling of words makes no sense. The use silent letters, and exceptions upon exceptions upon exceptions, it’s unnecessary. So I will inject my own rule, when the word ends with a “cks” use “x”, like “ducks” to “dux” and “sucks” to “sux” . The “x” is underused and is conservative use of writing and typing.

  135. Alyssa K. -  March 18, 2012 - 9:42 am

    I think that because we rely on computers more than paper now, we are almost entitled to use spell check. We use computers for communication, apply for jobs, school, and almost always for work. We rely on computers and in turn, i believe that spell check helps us not only correct our words, but I use synonyms for words I feel need more life or possibly do not fit the sentence. My vocabulary has especially grown due largely to the online dictionary and thesaurus. With the loss of certain words, our world has gained new words. I can personally say there are a few words in the dictionary in which I have never heard of. If you think our vocabulary is shrinking, encourage our school to require students to USE the vocabulary they teach instead of us just writing definitions.

  136. Bob -  March 18, 2012 - 8:50 am

    I never knew spell check could kill words!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! DON’T GO ENGLISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  137. Sean -  March 18, 2012 - 7:58 am

    I thought that a spell-checker was something a witch, wizard or druid would use to check his/her spells. A spelling-checker might be used to check spelling. *grin*

    Secondly, words themselves change in meaning which creates a shortage of words to express the original idea. For example, the word ‘massive’ was once used to describe something that had great mass. Elephants, whales come to mind, but so also does a teaspoonful of mercury. Today one speaks of a ‘massive hole’. And by definition, a hole cannot have mass. So, today ‘massive’ means ‘very large’. Now I’m left with ‘heavy’ to describe something that has large mass?

  138. Lady Lyra -  March 18, 2012 - 7:10 am

    Words dying worry me a bit. Remember what happened in 1984 by George Orwell? They limited the language and therefore limited the span of thought.

  139. Rustgold -  March 18, 2012 - 6:18 am

    Cnut cyning gret his arcebiscopas and his leod-biscopas and Þurcyl eorl and ealle his eorlas and ealne his þeodscype, twelfhynde and twyhynde, gehadode and læwede, on Englalande freondlice.

    Some more. I guess English is completely dead.

  140. Rustgold -  March 18, 2012 - 6:17 am

    Hwæt! wē Gār-Dena in ġeār-dagum
    þēod-cyninga, þrym ġefrūnon,
    hū ðā æþelingas ellen fremedon
    Oft Scyld Scēfing sceaþena þrēatum,

    Don’t understand it? That’s old English words.

  141. crash -  March 18, 2012 - 5:38 am

    well, we are inventing new words which are replacing normal words.

    BUT English cant be killed…..My spell checker checked my english into English .

  142. Random Person -  March 18, 2012 - 5:33 am

    Anybody else think this is ‘doubleplusungood’?

  143. Ana -  March 18, 2012 - 1:29 am

    Despite being a teenager, I admit that I agree with the point that you have made, “young people are suffering from the use of electronic communication. They seldom capitalize, they use text abreviations….”
    Though, I am proud to say that after years of using texting abbreviations, I realized how incompetent it was and began using proper english in order to communicate with people online with the occasional abbreviation. I was shocked when I took an SAT course a couple of years ago and my teacher told us that some of the essays he read from his students in other classes contained texting abbreviations. He told us that one girl kept using “=)” at the end of her sentences. I am quite surprised by the ignorance of teenagers for their use of texting in even essays.

  144. Ana -  March 18, 2012 - 1:19 am

    On the topic of word death, spell check is useful when one is typing at a quick pace. My mind operates quicker than my ability to type (average typing speed) so often times I misspell on the words which is when spell check comes in handy. However, when I’m not in a rush and I see that red line underneath a word, I have a compulsive need to backspace and correct myself. I don’t like to remove my hands from the keyboard and use the mouse so there are even times when I end up erasing a sentence to correct myself. But, even with spell check, we have to learn to proofread on our own because even with that application, sometimes the simplest words are overlooked because the words are still spelled correctly despite the fact that the word does not fit within the context of the topic.

    It’s not only word death though. This generation’s children and teenagers (the point my AP english lit. teacher points out on a regular basis) are becoming less literate. To have a larger vocabulary, one must read. As well as “word death” is grammar. The schools where I live don’t teach much grammar these days. I’ve been taught grammar from programs outside of my school but without consistent practice, the lessons are rendered pretty useless. And lastly, though it is probably not as important, I recently came to realize that there are many schools that have decided to put an end to teaching cursive which I believe is absolutely absurd considering how beautiful and classic cursive is.

  145. Keira -  March 17, 2012 - 11:41 pm

    Let’s be honest, we all know this is happening because of texting is extremely popular and people say that reading is boring. People shorten words (“chat speak”) to text quicker, use smaller words, and don’t allow themselves to expand their vocabulary through literature.

    I’m sixteen years old, and while I’m not claiming to have the best vocabulary or spelling knowledge, I at least try to avoid spelling errors and use less common words. I love to read and always look up unknown words I come across instead of just skipping over them.

    Lately I’ve been reintroduced to some words I hadn’t seen for years, and I wondered why they had disappeared from thought since I considered them good words to use. Then I realized it was because they were “too big” of a word for an average person nowadays to comprehend without defining it for them when it is pretty much self-explanatory.

    I may or may not come across as harsh, but I don’t want to sugar coat what’s happening to people’s vocabulary.

  146. Megan -  March 17, 2012 - 8:29 pm

    Whoa whoa whoa. You’re telling me kids can’t sound out words anymore…?
    That…makes me feel sick, actually.

  147. Alan Wescoat -  March 17, 2012 - 8:11 pm

    This is a good thing. I teach English as a second language. English is the de facto universal language. This is sad because English is very difficult. Just as we’ve ditched clunky and useless grammar such as needing to distinguish between “thee”, “thou”, and ‘ye”, or between “hast”, “hath”, “haveth”, and “havest”, the sheer volume of vocabulary makes international communication through English much too difficult.

    Consider the difference between “I am anxious about my appearance” and “I worry about how I look”. They both have the same basic meaning, but the second one is easier to learn and understand. Now, I could have said that “The latter is much more easily comprehended, assimilated, and regurgitated than the latter”, but putting it like that does not help with communication. It gets in the way of communication. This is why pretty much nobody reads the papers that college professors write and publish. The professors are so busy trying to sound smart using big or rare words that they forget their purpose, which is communication.

    It is a good idea for us to allow a lot of English to die. Let’s bury it with dignity and get on with the business of communicating with everyone around the world. English still has old useless grammar, terrible spelling rules, and too many word still found in daily use. As a teacher, I have found that very little of what I need to communicate needs very many different words. I communicate mostly with a small set of words, and it works!

    Three cheers for a language that is getting smaller.

  148. Pay -  March 17, 2012 - 7:31 pm

    I personally believe spell check is useful to me when I’m writing. I don’t really enjoy people looking at my work, so when I’m editing I know what I’m saying and sometimes don’t even notice I’ve made a mistake in the first place. Of course origins and such are important but that’s not necessarily useful when just spelling words. Most people won’t care about the origin of the word without an interest in the language and surprisingly very few people know anything about the Latin language. I’m in high school and English is my passion so when I make a silly mistake I feel a little embarrassed but I can recognize my error and actually care, whereas many teenagers and young adults simply don’t consider what they’re saying as important and disregard it because it’s been fixed by spell check. This causes people who can’t spell very well in the first place not to learn from their errors and constantly depend on spell check, so I think we should have spell check for learning instead of things like texting.

  149. ReaderGirl -  March 17, 2012 - 7:29 pm

    Sorry about the double comments… :)

  150. ReaderGirl -  March 17, 2012 - 7:27 pm

    grace, do you realize that, even while you vouch for the usefulness of spell/grammar check, you said “an actually good use of social media”? “An” cannot go before a vowel (a)!!! How old are you?!?!? This is what I’m talking about, it is actually physically painful for me to read the written words of my peers!!! That is something no logophile/bibliophile should ever be able to say!!!! I am loosing respect for my entire generation, here, people!!!

  151. ReaderGirl -  March 17, 2012 - 7:21 pm

    grace, do you realize that, even while you vouch for the usefulness of spell/grammar check, you just said “an actually good use of social media”? “An” cannot go before a vowel (a) !!!! How old are you?!?! This is what I’m talking about, it is actually physically painful for me to read the written words of my peers!!! And that is something that no logophile/bibliophile ever, EVER, wants to be able to say. I am losing respect for my whole generation, people!!!! >:(

  152. Amoi -  March 17, 2012 - 7:08 pm

    spellcheck is annoying. i hate it, seriously

  153. ReaderGirl -  March 17, 2012 - 6:57 pm

    Wow… looking back, that’s quite a rant, isn’t it? o_o … :D

  154. ReaderGirl -  March 17, 2012 - 6:55 pm

    Wow… looking back, that’s quit a rant, isn’t it? o_o… :D

  155. ReaderGirl -  March 17, 2012 - 6:53 pm

    Personally, I don’t think that spell (and grammar) check are that reliable, because a couple of days ago, I was typing an interview, and one question ended with: “…who would it be?”. And Word told me to change “who” to “which”. Then, when I told Word to ignore it, grammar check told me there needed to be a comma following “it”. When told to ignore THAT, Word decided that “be” needed to be “is”! Ugh!
    And that was just grammar check! Spell-check gets all bent out of shape whenever I use a Latin word (I take Latin in school) or a less-commonly used English word like “aeroplane” (as mentioned above by Rustgold). While the Latin problem is understandable, as spell-check is set to the English language, I see aeroplane all the time in books which can only be, at most, ten years old.
    Ugh!!! Even the comment that I’m typing right now is being spell-checked! so far I’ve been tagged for “aeroplane” twice and “Rustgold” once.
    Janski (you’re spell-checked too)… I sympathize. As a high school student, it is almost physically painful for me to do peer edits for my classmates, because they write like a 7-year-old talks, i.e., “runned”, “wanna”, “hafta”. It’s terrifying!
    Urgh!!!!! Spell-check didn’t tag “wanna”, but it tags “aeroplane”? >:(
    ReaderGirl, out!!

  156. Jess -  March 17, 2012 - 6:22 pm

    I never knew spell check could kill words!

  157. Noob -  March 17, 2012 - 5:54 pm

    words die?wowwww

  158. Judy -  March 17, 2012 - 5:03 pm

    New to the computer and as a senior I find this all very interesting. I also want to add, when I am writing and using spell check I find it oh so helpfull and it has increased my spelling. You ask how? Well, I look at how spell check has corrected my spelling……we didn’t have computers in my school day. As for dying words…..it only dies if you don’t use it!

  159. Stefanie -  March 17, 2012 - 4:05 pm

    I do think the use of the English language is shrinking. The English language itself is not. Besides the point, just because some words aren’t used anymore doesn’t mean that they’re dead, in my opinion.

  160. Lisa -  March 17, 2012 - 1:37 pm

    If only we could eliminate the word “awesome,” we could rescue thousands of adjectives. I always say, “If the pizza was ‘awesome,’ what word would you use to describe the Grand Canyon?”

    I think both good spelling and vocabulary are rapidly disappearing. I am amazed at the number of previously-circumspect sources that now seem to rely on spell-check and don’t have a human to check for grammar.

    My son had a HS history teacher who informed him that footnotes were old-fashioned in a research paper based on primary sources. According to this teacher, it was correct to just credit the sources at the end of the paper! The paper was on executive privilege and involved reading the day-by-day reports in the Washington Post about the Watergate break-in. I guess the end of the paper should have just credited “daily articles in the Washington Post?” Yikes.

  161. Lavender -  March 17, 2012 - 1:32 pm

    @Lillian–I agree with your views, but Latin roots do fail when the word you’re trying to spell doesn’t come from Latin. I recently participated in a spelling bee, and got out on a word derived from Japanese. Latin roots and suffixes are amazing and super useful–I personally am an avid Latinophile–but English is composed of nearly every language in the world. So, you can use your brain even MORE by thinking of all those other prefixes and suffixes from all those other languages! :D

  162. kyle -  March 17, 2012 - 1:06 pm

    hi lillian!!<3

  163. george -  March 17, 2012 - 1:03 pm

    pickles and cheese

  164. Gwyn -  March 17, 2012 - 12:48 pm

    In response to Mackenzie I have yet to have a college level assignment that is not required to be typed and set up in a set format. So don’t sweat not having spell check on assignments in college. In all honesty most teachers encourage you to use spell check every time you have to turn in a paper.

  165. novelist -  March 17, 2012 - 12:36 pm

    @Vicaari – I believe that <3 is meant to be a heart when viewed sideways.

    I find that young people are suffering from the use of electronic communication. They seldom capitalize, they use text abreviations and their spelling is worse than a first grader of my generation.

    In college I learned speed writing and found that it destroyed my ability to spell. Using texting abreviations is doing the same to those who use it daily. The sad thing is that these young people will compete in the job market with others who have a better grasp of spelling and language. I'm afraid they will be unable to land the better paying jobs. Ignorance may be bliss but it isn't an excuse for poor language skills.

  166. Robin Hood -  March 17, 2012 - 11:49 am

    we still make up words from misspellings, people just don’t want to recognize that “pwn” is a word.

  167. grace -  March 17, 2012 - 11:15 am

    If it means less big words used on SAT, I’m all for it. Spell check has saved my life though high school papers. My mom’s always on my case about needing to learn how to spell. That’s probably the reason why SAT vocabulary is so hard for me. It’s helpful for checking papers, but growing up with it my generation has used it as a crutch instead of a tool. We used to have to do timed writings by hand, but we began to do them on the computer as well.

    Even though our language is shrinking, our English is soaking into other languages. I was talking with my French pen pal over Facebook (an actually good use of social media) a while ago, and she said MDR (Mort de Rire) which means death of laughter. I said, oh we use LOL like that. She said she knew, because they used that too.

    All languages change all the time. If you look at early English, to middle English, to Shakespeare modern English, and to now modern English, our language has evolved a lot. Even under the context of modern English, it has changed greatly. It is just the natural evolution of language, which would have happened with or without technology’s influence.

  168. Alex Nitro -  March 17, 2012 - 10:16 am

    hey words where are u… ohh takking a dirt nap… sleep well… WAAAKE
    UUUPP… 2 min later… I’M FREAKIN OUT… WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE upp… Any day now

  169. RoadRunner242 -  March 17, 2012 - 10:01 am

    oops: I meant to say “dig up the past”. Another fault of the spell checker, it can’t read my mind!

  170. RoadRunner242 -  March 17, 2012 - 9:59 am

    Also, what’s the big deal for, just to get a government grant? The people in 11th century England never thought their language would change, but it slowly did, just like evolution: so slow we don’t know its happening until we did up the past.

  171. RoadRunner242 -  March 17, 2012 - 9:54 am

    To albebramaster159: I think the word you wanted to use was esoteric, meaning “understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest”, rather than prosaic, which means “commonplace or dull; matter-of-fact or unimaginative”. What say you?

  172. bholland -  March 17, 2012 - 9:51 am

    I’ll be turning 70 soon and I love my spell checker – I’d be lost without it.

    One must be careful in its use, however, as is evident in the poem “Ode to a Spell-Checker” listed below:

    Eye halve a spelling checker
    It came with my pea sea
    It plainly marks four my revue
    Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

    Eye strike a key and type a word
    And weight four it two say
    Weather eye am wrong oar write
    It shows me strait a weigh.

    As soon as a mist ache is maid
    It nose bee fore two long
    And eye can put the error rite
    Its rare lea ever wrong.

    Eye have run this poem threw it
    I am shore your pleased two no
    Its letter perfect awl the weigh
    My checker tolled me sew.

    Author unknown

  173. mary torres so swagging -  March 17, 2012 - 9:40 am

    happy st.p day

  174. Renrut -  March 17, 2012 - 9:38 am

    I am medium old now but when I was a youngster I read and read. I would do the same now if my eyes would stand it. Correct spelling became second nature because it was imprinted in my mind. If I open a newspaper now I will immediately see a spelling mistake because of what happened then. There is opinion among the young that correct spelling does not matter but that is foolishness gone mad. Why does it matter? Try using 0 (zero) instead of O (letter), your computer will not co-operate. This principle applies all down the line to nonsense words like ‘innit’

  175. Lillian -  March 17, 2012 - 9:26 am

    If you didn’t have spell-check, your brain would be used more because when spelling a word, you can think about latin roots and prefixes and suffixes. They never fail!

  176. Lillian -  March 17, 2012 - 9:24 am

    Spell-check is helpful, but I find it more useful for typos. I’m in the sixth grade, and many words I know aren’t in spell-check, so to me it is mostly annoying. I like how it changes simple mistakes I make when typing to fast like uncapitalized first letters of sentences, etc., but it drives me nuts when other children can’t spell things right in class.

  177. Vicaari -  March 17, 2012 - 8:37 am

    Yes, … I think so.

    Personally, I don’t rely on spell-check owing to lack of accessibilty to … computer, and I should be glad and/or happy of that now it appears

    As usual great article

    @BLOGCHI@mayopia: I enjoy your comments; different, yet philosophical I find, and I look forward to it. Thanks

    @Mackenzie: Hi Kenz, how are you? Please do tell me smthg… <3 means what?

  178. Felix -  March 17, 2012 - 7:34 am

    English is still doing fine IMO. Words die out and new words replace them, that happens to any language. But spelling-check is really making certain people stupid. Many of my friends often misspell words when they have to write by hand. With the help of autocorrect on smartphones and spelling-check on computers, nobody bothers remembering spellings anymore….that sucks!

  179. Annabeth E. -  March 17, 2012 - 7:25 am

    I would have never known the English language is dying. That’s actually pretty sad if you ask me. Blast you, spell check!

  180. mary torres so swagging -  March 17, 2012 - 7:15 am

    he want that…… cake,cake,cake,cake,cake,cake,cake,cake,cake,cake,

  181. Michael -  March 17, 2012 - 6:41 am

    Spell check is something that is extremely useful. I do think that it should be limited in Elementary & High School. Students should learn the basics just as in math. However after you learn all the basics it’s nice to have something catch a forgotten word or just a mistake that you don’t see. The previous comment on handwriting a paper in college is ridiculous the 6 th grade student should be the one not using spell check and the College student writing a paper needs it. The early years in which the spelling skills are developed are important.

  182. Michael -  March 17, 2012 - 6:36 am

    I am in the accounting field the word “Imprest” always comes up as misspelled on word check however, it refers to a pre set amount in a fund such as petty cash is set as $100 imprest amount and reimbursed to that imprest amount every time it is reconciled. Also the word advise and maybe it’s me but to say ‘please adivise when you are coming’ does not work as a verb in spell check. Anyway I also do think the world of words is shrinking in use as we compact our time, we are compacting our language to be more efficient in many ways. Hopefully words will survive in literature as they can make it more rich and textural in many ways. However the need to do so many things so fast will eventually shrink the word usage in every day language (IMHO).

  183. Jenn -  March 17, 2012 - 6:32 am

    One evening, much like many others in my home, I was reading before succumbing to a blissful slumber. I was enjoying an e-book that had been translated from Swedish to English when I came across a word I was not certain of its meaning. Sometimes the meaning of the word can be determined by the context of the sentence or even paragraph. That was not the case on this particular night. I placed my finger on the word to query the e-reader’s dictionary. To my dismay, it could not be found in the dictionary. Rather than get out of my comfortable bed to consult with Google, I decide to plod along. Then low and behold, another word appears before my eyes that I would like to know the exact meaning of. Again, it was not in the dictionary. With frustration, I ceased reading for the night.

    Words should not be removed from the dictionary — ever.

  184. Ben -  March 17, 2012 - 5:54 am

    Oops, I forgot… I meant to put a B-)

  185. Ben -  March 17, 2012 - 5:53 am

    Uh, dude…. you kinda left an error yourself…. better fix that….

  186. nconantj -  March 17, 2012 - 4:49 am

    I think there is too much reliance on spell checkers today. People are relying entirely on this technology and not spending the time to proofread their work.

    On any given day, while reading the paper, I can find half a dozen instances where only the spell checker was used prior to an article going to print. This is not just limited to my local writers, as I have seen this in various articles that come off the wire. Some instances might be correctable with a grammar checker, but there are others where even a grammar checker would not work. We all must spend more time using that god or evolution (depending on your beliefs) given brain to identify our errors and fix them.

  187. Nshera -  March 17, 2012 - 4:44 am

    I love words! Stop killing them!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

  188. Marc -  March 17, 2012 - 4:39 am

    Spell check is a tool and like any tool, you must understand its uses and functions. It also can be mishandled like any tool. Spell check will not catch you if you talk about the weather being bad because there is too much reign or rein. You must know the words you use.
    I can hardly wait to try out selcouth – your word of the day, which this machine’s spell check has just rejected out of hand and suggested replacing with “outhouse.”

  189. Anon -  March 17, 2012 - 3:03 am

    I don’t think the English language is shrinking; we’re all just spelling it right. The findings would be more credible had they excluded the extinction of misspelled/typo words

  190. Cpt Obvious -  March 17, 2012 - 2:41 am

    Wow. This article is extremely superlative. Hope there’ll be more articles like this one in the future.

    Hmm, I wonder if some people would try to revive certain extinct words. I also wonder if certain words, like ‘douchebag’ and ‘facepalm’, will eventually be introduced as official words that can be found in dictionaries.

  191. Janski -  March 17, 2012 - 2:34 am

    Me wrote a great essay, thank you. Wendy hit a sore spot for me… phonics. I have a young friend, soon to turn 18, that has a very limited vocabulary, thinks ‘big’ words are ridiculous and does not have a clue on how to sound a word out. When reading, if she gets to a new word, she reads around it and gets the ‘idea’ of the word without actually understanding it… can’t say it and won’t look it up. Makes me very sad.

  192. Rustgold -  March 17, 2012 - 1:42 am

    Complete waste of a decent topic title. Seriously, the blog creator could have shown real words which are disappearing (aeroplane vs airplane). Instead he/she whinged about the loss of misspellings.

    This is a serious blog fail.

  193. Amy -  March 16, 2012 - 11:47 pm

    oh actually im not :(

  194. Amy -  March 16, 2012 - 9:50 pm

    First comment :)

  195. Hunger Games Fan -  March 16, 2012 - 8:59 pm


  196. Wendy -  March 16, 2012 - 8:25 pm

    People under thirty years old are becoming stupid because of this kind of technology

  197. Wendy -  March 16, 2012 - 8:22 pm

    Spell check is not a function that is useful to our population. Students should learn the basics to spell a word and the rules for spelling. Also, phonics wouldn’t hurt at all

  198. Wendy -  March 16, 2012 - 8:19 pm

    Spell-check is ridiculious. People should be taught in their classes how to spell words and simple phonics

  199. Natha -  March 16, 2012 - 8:16 pm

    Spell-check already does more harm than good.
    It destroys our brain’s capacity to think of how, where and why a specific word should be in that particular juxtaposition.

  200. Avery Wuntz Smart -  March 16, 2012 - 7:47 pm

    Improved spelling? Decrease in misspelled variations?? If only this were true. The “birth rate of misspelled (and misused) variations” has, on the contrary, increased in my observations.

    It will be sad though when our vocabulary continually decreases due to infrequent usage. I cringe when I read the local free paper or watch the news on TV. Words like “rife” and “pretext” don’t exist in some minds, so we end up with “ripe with melancholy” and “false pretense”. Sad.

  201. Vanessa -  March 16, 2012 - 7:29 pm

    Interesting, but could you give some examples of words that have died out/are dying out?

    As to the final question, I think one con of spell-check is that it renders it unnecessary for people to spell things correctly themselves, since they have a machine to do it for them. On the other hand, it can be helpful to avoid errors, and, if one pays attention, it can help to learn from mistakes and be able to correct one’s spelling without computerized help. So, like most things, it is a mixed blessing.

  202. Me -  March 16, 2012 - 7:18 pm

    When I referred to radar, I meant that “it is now considered word too.” I had written “not” instead of “now” by mistake. Maybe I should check MY writing!

  203. Me -  March 16, 2012 - 6:45 pm

    As a note, I realize that the article calls “color” and “colour” variations of the same word.

    Also, to shrink, something must decrease in size. To cease to increase is not to shrink. As I mentioned, this language is most definitely growing!

  204. Deborah Esquivel -  March 16, 2012 - 6:28 pm

    I hate hearing this about the dictionary..some people do not even get on the computer and what about young people that have not learned all about the computer yet but are in school?This was decided by some nut-case!

  205. Kiwi -  March 16, 2012 - 6:23 pm

    o m g……….

  206. Me -  March 16, 2012 - 6:10 pm

    I disagree with the assertion that the language is shrinking. Language is not confined the the world of literature, but is alive on the tongues of millions. Many archaic words are not used in written or spoken language, but they are still in the dictionary–they are still in the language. If someone were to use the word, it would still be correct.

    Many new words and conventions are added to our language. For example, the recent phenomenon of texting has added many new “words” to our language. Those “words” may be actual words someday. Radar was once an acronym (it still is), but it is not considered a word too.

    Additionally, technology adds many new words. When new technology is invented, or when old technology is used in new and innovative ways, new words are created. In this age of computers, many new terms must be created to keep pace with the rapid advance of technology.

    With social media, with the internet, with television, and with other relatively new methods of communication–especially communication over long distances–words, phrases, and linguistic innovation or more easily and more rapidly exchanged between groups and between individuals.

    On further note, various misspellings of a word do not in fact constitute a wholly separate word, but rather a variation. Synonyms are obviously entities that are distinct from their counterparts; I am not claiming them to be non-existant words.

    Language change is slow to occur if language is considered prescriptively–at least that change occurs more slowly than it does when language is considered descriptively. New slang, and some slang can eventually enter the realm of “correct” language, is not often used in publications. The internet brings new opportunity for that, but the slang may not be widely accepted first (or even at all). Publications, even internet publications, are wary of using slang, as readers may have a hard time grasping the meaning of the words. That slang would not be considered by those physicists to constitute a part of the language, but in a sense, that slang is a part of the language, however short-lived it may be. It is a part of the speech of the one who uses it.

    As for the comparison of “color” and “colour,” each is a part of a separate standard of language. Americans have in the past used British spelling (Ralph Waldo Emerson for example), but that does not mean that every American does so, nor does it mean only a few do. I really do not know (it must also be considered that Ralph Waldo Emerson was alive in the 19th century). I doubt that either “color” or “colour” will overcome the other (although I cannot tell the future). If one spelling “died”, it would first be necessary for a whole spelling system to die. If one of those spellings were to die, words would not be dead, because as previously stated, spelling a word differently does not make a whole new word, but rather a variation on the word. Thus, that point is rendered moot.

    Who decides how to spell words? A spell check is only that opinion of someone else, but it is in a way necessary if we are to all understand each other.

    That is all I have to write now, but perhaps later I shall write more.

  207. WORDDEATH | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  March 16, 2012 - 5:56 pm

    [...] ‘Word Death’ though ominous sounding. — Yet the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ though rumpled still live. — Time and context might change meaning. — Statistics and editors’ numbers values give. — Many things forgotten. — Like people, memories die. — We drink to the Dust Collector, — In some uncharted galaxy on the fly. — So many questions unanswered. — So many answers proven wrong. — Light Years defining Time Lines’ eternity: — ‘Word Death’ sounds like a Country Song. –>>L.T.Rhyme [...]

  208. Mackenzie -  March 16, 2012 - 5:41 pm

    second comment! actually the first one was me too! i think this is true! hey that rhymed! why am i using exclamation marks?

    oh well im bored……

    :) kenz <3

  209. Mackenzie -  March 16, 2012 - 5:40 pm

    I personally LOVE spell-check on microsoft word bcoz of course im in 6th grade so i type a lot of school work…..

    but i also think that kids (like me..) should actually correct their spelling errors rather than a spell-check do it for them. after all, when we go to college, and we might have to write hand written essays, our spelling might not be that great!!!!!!!!!!!!

    :) kenz <3

  210. algebramaster159 -  March 16, 2012 - 5:14 pm

    this information is prosaic,yet interesting to look at


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