Itty bitty, tiny little hiccups in our writing might not always be noticed, but that doesn’t mean we still shouldn’t try to do better—even when some people say these mistakes are okay.
- “Minuscule” is a big word with a tiny meaning. Literally. It means to be incredibly small. It comes from a diminutive of “minus,” or minusculus in Latin.
- “Miniscule” is a confused spelling, taking the idea of “mini” and mixing up the words. “Miniscule” isn’t the standard spelling. If you were in a spelling bee, it would be considered incorrect. However, because this word is misspelled so often, it’s starting to become an alternate form. Mini-me probably isn’t behind the surge of this spelling faux pas, but maybe remembering his work with Dr. Evil might help you remember that this isn’t the accepted usage you’re looking for.
I know what you’re thinking: How can people simply make up a new spelling and have it become normalized because of misspelling it so often? Depending on your outlook, this is the awesome or disturbing thing about the English language over time. Just like “pleaded” vs. “pled,” “light” vs. “lit,” and “imbed” vs. “embed,” words and their spellings evolve. Heck, sometimes mistakes even replace the original logical forms entirely.
Will we see this with “miniscule”? Time will only tell. But until then, let’s try to get it right, folks.