Dilemna or Dilemma?

In helping YA proofread an essay last night, I noticed that “dilemma” was not underlined as misspelled. When I corrected it to “dilemna”, I got the squiggly red line saying it was now incorrect.

The internet tells me that I am not alone in believing that “dilemna” is how it should be spelled. In fact, the internet also tells me that the majority of English speakers over 40 worldwide, believe that “dilemna” is correct, being taught that spelling in school.

The revered OED doesn’t even list “dilemna” as a variant, although the misspelling can be found as far back as 1551 (Wilson’s Rule of Reason) and even in Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe.

So here I am, after 50+ years, trying to figure out a way to remember the correct spelling. Maybe I’ll just come up with a good synonym instead!

What new tricks have you had to learn lately?

39 thoughts on “Dilemna or Dilemma?”

    1. I’m here, thanks VS. It’s a day of “rest” for me i.e. morning blood draw, one late morning appointment, and one afternoon appointment. But no chemo, yay! And no major procedures today.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I don’t think I ever knew the word “dilemna”…. pronounced with “…na” at the end?? Never heard that.

    Well, I’ve learned a lot of medical stuff in the last month.
    Lately I’ve been watching a lot of you tube videos on WWII things; battles, airplanes, The 8th air force ect. Just because I’m interested.
    And diesel pick ups. I bought a new used truck for the farm and it’s a diesel. Never had a diesel pick up so learning about that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. my buddy the former general motors transmission engineer was also a diesel expert at encouraged me to look into diesel engines proclaiming how much better easier more smartly constructed and engineered they are than gas engines .
      what did you get for a truck?


  2. I have learned lots of new tricks for our new electonic health record system at work. I also learned how to dictate reports with a voice to screen transcriber. I am slowly adding to the transcriber’s dictionary. The system has trouble with names, but it tries so hard. The variations of the name “Pankowski” were pretty funny. I must remember to write some of the more creative ones down for baboon amusement.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I dictate to my phone a lot. It has yet to learn “evidently” and always displays “Harry Dently”. I think there’s a way to teach it things I just haven’t bothered to learn that yet. It’s easier to just get mad at it and retype it.
      And sometimes it forgets how to spell “Amelia” and gives me random names. Must be my fault: I’m not enunciating well enough.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Ono band I don’t think it’s your fault. I am amazed at what my voice recognition comes up with. I’m sure there’s probably a way to tell voice recognition about the name of my daughter but it doesn’t work so far.


        1. My boss came up to my desk while I was leaving my last comment. So I didn’t double-check it before I hit send. That was supposed to say “oh no, Ben”

          Liked by 3 people

  3. The trick I’m struggling to learn is turning on my new television. Why do I have a new television? Because the old one took a blow to its face on the move from Michigan, a blow that was fatal. Well, actually, the lower half of the screen works as always. The top half is black. I figure I’ll be able to see the action when the Vikings run the football, but any time they pass I won’t see the ball until it comes down. Am I such a dunce because I can’t turn on my TV? Probably, but three very smart people who tried to help me were equally frustrated.

    Sherrilee: “dilemna” is not a word. Of course, my authority for that is my computer, which tells me Sherrilee isn’t a name.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I can relate. We recently got a new TV, a digital one. We were both under the impression that our old TV, an almost brand new Sony (we had had for about ten years), was too, but no, turns out it was analog. It took us several days, and multiple calls to Best Buy, to finally get everything hooked up right. Turns out we needed a new cable and a different antenna as well.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Dilemna is new to me as well, but thanks, vs, for adding to my already long list of words I know how to misspell.

    With my hearing loss I’m ever more cognizant of how important enunciation is. I have long maintained that one of the reasons I have a hard time hearing and understanding husband is that he mumbles. Lately he has started using the voice recognition feature on his phone to send me messages; alas the lady in his phone appears to have hearing issues too. I’ve been scratching my head a lot lately, trying to decipher his messages. Having had several years of deciphering tim’s comments may come in handy yet. Of course it doesn’t help that I never know which language I should be listening in when husband talks. He frequently will start out in one, and mid sentence switch to another. The joys of a multilingual household! We may be able to read and converse in several languages, but are incomprehensible in all of them.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. The latest trick I’ve learning is to try to keep my HIckman line dry during my shower. I cover it with sticky plastic but today it definitely got wet and one of the bandages loosened. Major fail there.


  6. I just have to comment on how absurd that internet “fact”, that the majority of English-speaking persons over 40 misspell dilemma is. Really? Did they survey all English speaking persons on how they spell dilemma? Did they collect all the written material of all those persons and do a tally?

    For the most part, we don’t learn how to spell specific words in school. We learn how to spell from reading. Among the select random words included in spelling tests, words that cumulatively account for less than .037 percent (I can make up statistics too!) of all the words in the English language, how often was dilemma included? Did someone resurrect every spelling test ever given to English speakers over 40 in order to establish that the majority were misinformed on the dilemma issue?

    Personally, I don’t recall ever seeing dilemna. It may be on the list of commonly misspelled words, for all I know, but I’m fairly certain that anything more specific than that is fiction.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I just looked up “lists of commonly misspelled words.” On only one of them did I find dilemma, but with the incorrect spelling listed as dilema. I wonder if dilemna is more prevalent in some areas?


    2. I’m actually very hesitant about some of the facts you find on the internet as well. And before I wrote this piece, I spent probably two hours searching around trying to find anyone competent who could discover how so many people think it’s dilemna with an n. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn it from reading or I would have found some other sources besides the ones that I did find. Because I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn how to spell dilemna from Robinson Crusoe. So the number of people who misspelled it is probably a rounding up or extrapolation of some number somewhere. But I did see it several times when I was looking stuff up on this.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. My Funk & Wagnall’s desk copy says “dilemma”, no alternates.

    This week I’ve learned a new folk dance, and learned a better way to teach another folk dance. I’ve found a new recipe for Jambalaya that I hope to test today. I learned about a totally new kind of insulation (at one of those free dinner presentations) that we would buy if we were younger and had more time in this house to absorb the cost (but we may buy the solar fan!). I learned that a couple we know has an air.bnb in their attic, good info for the next time my sister visits with granddaughter in tow.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. As a spelling freak, I NEVER saw the spelling as “dilemna”. Having typed and proofread as a secretary for 25+ years, I’ve always seen “dilemma”, I’m not aware of an alternate spelling for the word and never saw “dilemna” until today.

    It was only recently when helping my son with resume/cover letter stuff that there’s disagreement about using the the Oxford comma when typing a list of 2+ items in a sentence. I learned the old-fashioned stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.