I came across a piece the other day suggesting that the most misspelled word in English is “referrer”. That’s on the internet, anyway, where it’s apparently spelt incorrectly 25% more than it is correctly!
According to word legend Anu Garg (and no, that’s not an anagram), it’s due to a computer scientist called Phillip Hallam-Baker.
Apparently in the early 1990s, when specifications for the world wide web were being decided upon, Hallam-Baker suggested a “referer” value (1 x ‘r’) to keep track of what web page a user clicked on to land on another web page… and so the spelling has stuck…
But, as Anu Garg points out (plus others), English spellings have never been consistent; take:
- “traveller” (British English) and “traveler” (American English)
But don’t get too cushy thinking you can just double consonants — or not — depending upon your flavour of English (Australia, New Zealand and India tend to use the Brit’s version). There’s this, just to confuse:
- “enrol” and “enroll” (if you’re thinking the former is US English, you’re wrong…it’s the one with the double ‘l’)
And just for good measure, both lingos use “comforter” and “transmitter”.
Fancy that… :)
If you want to read some really fab stuff about words, check out Anu’s well-researched blog.