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26 of Noah Webster's spelling changes that didn't catch on
Really, shouldn't machine be spelled "masheen"?
It's okay, Noah, we all lose some.
It's okay, Noah, we all lose some. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
N

oah Webster had a lasting impact on language in the United States. Before publishing his American Dictionary of the English Language, he produced a series of spelling books that dominated American classrooms for almost a century. He was a proponent of spelling reform, believing that more regular orthography would not only make learning easier, but more importantly, it would distinguish the American way from the British, "an object of vast political consequence" to a young nation. Some of his suggested reforms caught on and still mark a difference between American and British writing: He replaced "colour" with "color," "centre" with "center," "defence" with "defense," "plough" with "plow," "draught" with "draft" and "gaol" with "jail."

However, many of Webster's reforms went nowhere. Here are 26 spellings that didn't catch on — at least until the dawn of LOLcats.

1. Cloke — cloak

2. Soop — soup

3. Masheen — machine

4. Tung — tongue

5. Greef — grief

6. Dawter — daughter

7. Korus — chorus

8. Nightmar — nightmare

9. Turnep — turnip

10. Iland — island

11. Porpess — porpoise

12. Steddy — steady

13. Hainous — heinous

14. Thum — thumb

15. Gillotin — guillotine

16. Spunge — sponge

17. Ake — ache

18. Wimmin — women

19. Determin — determine

20. Giv — give

21. Bilt — built

22. Beleev — believe

23. Grotesk — grotesque

24. Stile — style

25. Neer — near

26. Sley — sleigh

(Inspired by this post from Reddit's Today I Learned.)

Arika Okrent is editor-at-large at TheWeek.com and a frequent contributor to Mental Floss. She is the author of In the Land of Invented Languages, a history of the attempt to build a better language. She holds a doctorate in linguistics and a first-level certification in Klingon.

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