The Free Dictionary  
mailing list For webmasters
Welcome Guest Forum Search | Active Topics | Members

Spelling dilemna Options
jamyx
Posted: Monday, March 30, 2009 8:05:21 PM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 3/30/2009
Posts: 1
Neurons: 3
Location: United States
I was taught to spell the word as 'dilemna' until the Firefox browser's spell checker said it was wrong. A quick Google search turned up the same results asking me if I wanted to spell it 'dilemma'. Am I just under-corrected in this issue? As it was not till I was 26 that I learned the truth behind my spelling dilemna.
arthbard
Posted: Monday, March 30, 2009 8:50:20 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/26/2009
Posts: 63
Neurons: 189
Location: South Carolina
I've never encountered that one before, but according to a Google search, it looks like you're not the only one who specifically remembers being taught that spelling. Some of the links I clicked theorize that the spelling could originate from a textbook misprint, but that seems to be purely hypothetical.

Interesting, though.
agatbr
Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 2:05:41 AM

Rank: Newbie

Joined: 3/18/2009
Posts: 2
Neurons: 4,358
I think there's no such thing as "dilemna".

It might exist on the internet but what doesn't exist there ? :P
zigzag
Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 3:41:03 AM

Rank: Member

Joined: 3/18/2009
Posts: 18
Location: libya
Both The Babylon dictionary on my pc and thw Wikipedia website redirects the search results to "dilemma" which means that dilemna is a synonym of dilemma.
Wikipedia wrote:

A dilemma (Greek δί-λημμα "double proposition") is a problem offering at least two solutions or possibilities, of which none are practically acceptable; one in this position has been traditionally described as "being on the horns of a dilemma", neither horn being comfortable; or "being between a rock and a hard place", since both objects or metaphorical choices being rough.

indeed it is a spelling dilemma.
Joseph Glantz
Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 8:17:44 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/18/2009
Posts: 2,036
Neurons: 6,040
Location: United States
Dilemma. That's sort of like a paradox - which according to a high-school friend of mine was what happens when an oncologist meets up with a dermatologist.
misspriss
Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 9:50:26 AM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 3/31/2009
Posts: 1
Neurons: 3
Location: United States
From “online etymology”

dilemma, cir. 1523 from Late Latin dilemma, from Greek dilemma “double proposition”, a technical term in Rhetoric, from “di” = two + “lemma” = premise [anything taken]. It should be used only of situations where someone is forced to choose between two alternatives, both unfavorable to him.

Per this entry, the spelling in both Greek and Latin has a double “mm” NOT “mn” therefore your educator was incorrect. I'd like to know how that happened, maybe it was a typo. I fear he/she was teaching "by the book" and not the intellect. I would have thought you would have discovered this mistake before the age of 26.
Drew
Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 4:06:13 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 1,503
Neurons: 4,487
Location: United States
jamyx wrote:
I was taught to spell the word as 'dilemna' until the Firefox browser's spell checker said it was wrong. A quick Google search turned up the same results asking me if I wanted to spell it 'dilemma'. Am I just under-corrected in this issue? As it was not till I was 26 that I learned the truth behind my spelling dilemna.


I've never seen the spelling "dilemna", but I'm wondering if, when you spoke the word, you pronounced the letter "n" as you would in words like "autumnal" or "damnation". It seems like, if you were pronouncing the word wrong, somebody would have corrected you at some point. But then again, perhaps not.
tfrank
Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 5:52:26 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 73
Neurons: 219
Location: Pennsylvania
Joseph, I am very tired and slow today - I don't get your friend's joke. Would you explain it? It sounds like it's sure to be funny.

EDIT: Oh, DUH! Never mind. I AM tired and slow today!
Raparee
Posted: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 9:55:15 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 1,231
Neurons: 18,102
Don't feel too badly - I was also taught "dilemna" and it wasn't until my 20s that I learned otherwise. *shrugs* Just one of those weird things.


A closed mind is like a closed book - nothing can be gained if either remains closed.
NicoleR
Posted: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 10:32:45 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 71
Neurons: 213
Location: Pennsylvania
That's so strange--I never knew that it could also be spelled "dilemna." Learn something new every day, I guess!
johnw
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2009 12:04:32 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/10/2009
Posts: 56
Neurons: 177
Location: United States
IMHO--and you need to be brave--spell it how it sounds, and get rid of the empty "traditon" behind so much of English spelling.
kaliedel
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2009 2:37:17 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 340
Neurons: 1,029
Location: United States
Drew wrote:
I've never seen the spelling "dilemna", but I'm wondering if, when you spoke the word, you pronounced the letter "n" as you would in words like "autumnal" or "damnation". It seems like, if you were pronouncing the word wrong, somebody would have corrected you at some point. But then again, perhaps not.


That's an interesting observation. I assumed at first that "dilemna" may have been changed to "dilemma" simply to lessen confusion over a period of years, though they are pronounced the same way. Yet the Latin origin of "dilemma" seems to dispute that. Maybe it's just some kind of colloquial offshoot, like a regional variation.
Miekol
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2009 5:14:18 PM
Rank: Member

Joined: 4/9/2009
Posts: 25
Neurons: 75
Location: Australia
jamyx wrote:
I was taught to spell the word as 'dilemna' until the Firefox browser's spell checker said it was wrong. A quick Google search turned up the same results asking me if I wanted to spell it 'dilemma'. Am I just under-corrected in this issue? As it was not till I was 26 that I learned the truth behind my spelling dilemna.


If you spelt it as it sounds it would be dilema :-) Eezee :-)
Epiphileon
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2009 10:45:11 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/22/2009
Posts: 4,051
Neurons: 80,329
So I'm wondering if there is any commonality among those of us who learned dilemna? I'm from Western Pennsylvania, and attending Roman Catholic Grade School.

Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
Luftmarque
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2009 1:15:20 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 3,120
Neurons: 30,222
Location: Pau, Aquitaine, France
Epiphileon wrote:
So I'm wondering if there is any commonality among those of us who learned dilemna? I'm from Western Pennsylvania, and attending Roman Catholic Grade School.

I just read a bunch of online discussions of this phenomenon, and people reported being taught dilemna in the US, Canada, and Great Britain from the fifties through the eighties. There appears to be a similar situation in French between dilemme and dilemne. The weird thing to me is how all of this mis-education could have happened in so many classes without one contrarian student being doubtful enough to look up the spelling in a dictionary. As far as I know, no one has ever been able to track the problem down to a misprint in a textbook, and there seems to be no dictionary anywhere any time that has listed dilemna.

}- Luftmarque لوفتمارك -{ Le doute n'est pas une condition agréable, mais la certitude est absurde.—Voltaire
krmiller
Posted: Monday, April 13, 2009 9:56:30 PM

Rank: Administration

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 217
Neurons: 663
Location: United States
It seems to me I've heard people pronounce it "dilemna." I don't think I've seen it spelled that way before, though.
cleopatra clover
Posted: Monday, April 20, 2009 11:32:32 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/15/2009
Posts: 324
Neurons: 999
Location: Malaysia
I've checked all my dictionaries and all I found was the word 'dilemma'.
crispychef
Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 4:35:00 PM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 5/19/2009
Posts: 1
Neurons: 3
Location: United States
I was also taught to spell it Dilemna.... I am sure I was taught this way because I have often jokingly pronounced the "N" which (after doing the same research as everyone else) I realize is not only not a funny joke, but makes no sense to anyone else... lol... I say we spell it with the N, that way we'll all know who is cool and who is just normal....
kaliedel
Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2009 9:00:04 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 340
Neurons: 1,029
Location: United States
So does the "n" in "dilemna" having anything to do with the "n" in "damn?"
vr091073
Posted: Friday, May 22, 2009 1:19:16 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 5/4/2009
Posts: 239
Neurons: 720
Location: Mauritius
The correct versions of the word in English and French are respectively 'dilemma' and 'dilemme.' Both contain double 'm's and not a single 'n.' What's even more bewildering is the fact that the ultimate origin of this term is Greek, and even there, no 'n' is to be found. How this common orthographic solecism managed to creep into the two languages is indeed a subject that many a linguist would find pretty engrossing, I bet.

"There is not a truth existing which I fear or would wish unknown to the whole world." -- Thomas Jefferson to Henry Lee, 1826. ME 16:179
Stuart Bradley
Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 5:18:48 AM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 7/21/2009
Posts: 1
Neurons: 3
Location: United Kingdom
I am 63 and first a Yorkshireman and second British. I learnt my language through discipline and rote and my English Teacher must be turning in her grave on how Dilemna has been corrupted. It has, as far as I am concerned and always will end in MNA. I was taught the N was silent and historian of Philology should confirm. The English Language has taken over 2000 years in the making and is constantly evolving, meanings change, but even so, the historical data remains.Brick wall
cleopatra clover
Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 10:07:35 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/15/2009
Posts: 324
Neurons: 999
Location: Malaysia
Welcome to the forum Stuart Bradley. English is my second language, and though I am now 46, I am not ashame to say that I am still learning to improve my English. Where I'm working, doesn't need me to speak or write much of English. This forum has been a great help, that means the help comes from everyone involves in this forum. Anyway, From all the post above, only then I realize that all along, I've spelled Dilemna wrongly.
grammargeek
Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 3:06:44 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/21/2009
Posts: 11,145
Neurons: 33,836
Location: Arizona, U.S.
Luftmarque wrote:
I just read a bunch of online discussions of this phenomenon, and people reported being taught dilemna in the US, Canada, and Great Britain from the fifties through the eighties.

I attended grades K-12 in the U.S. during the sixties and seventies which I am pretty sure still falls between the fifties and the eighties. And I have never heard or read the word dilemna until reading this thread. I was taught dilemma; no alternative spellings were ever mentioned.

Now that I think about it, my parents always did say that all the newcomers to our metropolitan area wanted to move into our particular suburb because the school district was so much better. The longer I live, the more I think they were right. At the time, school was just school. Until college, I'd never attended school outside of that school district so I had no comparison.
RubyMoon
Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 11:41:38 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/30/2009
Posts: 1,666
Neurons: 4,834
Location: United States
grammargeek wrote:
Luftmarque wrote:
I just read a bunch of online discussions of this phenomenon, and people reported being taught dilemna in the US, Canada, and Great Britain from the fifties through the eighties.

I attended grades K-12 in the U.S. during the sixties and seventies which I am pretty sure still falls between the fifties and the eighties. And I have never heard or read the word dilemna until reading this thread. I was taught dilemma; no alternative spellings were ever mentioned.

Now that I think about it, my parents always did say that all the newcomers to our metropolitan area wanted to move into our particular suburb because the school district was so much better. The longer I live, the more I think they were right. At the time, school was just school. Until college, I'd never attended school outside of that school district so I had no comparison.


I agree, same here. I've been following this thread with an increasing sense of confusion since I have never been taught, "heard or read the word dilemna". I am still puzzled - why would so many schools teach the same wrong spelling of a word? I have never heard this about any other word, so why dilemma?
York
Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 12:43:12 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/22/2009
Posts: 95
Neurons: 3,845
Location: Savannah, Georgia, United States
I, too, attended schools in the U.S., starting kindergarten in 1958. I learned to spell dilemna. Dilemma looks wrong to me.
Romany
Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 8:59:40 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 14,328
Neurons: 44,556
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
Ruby Moon. I'm with you, girl. This is one of the most bizarre mysteries concerning an English error I have ever come across!

I went to 16 different schools across a couple of countries: nary a one of 'em shoved an 'n' into dilemma.

What's even more fascinating to speculate upon is which version will eventuate. In 50 years time will it become an optionally-spelled word or will one version be the "right" one?
witchcraft
Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 9:44:31 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/6/2009
Posts: 386
Location: Tasmania Australia
Likewise, my electric dictionary demonstrates that "dilemma," not only the Firefox's browser's spellchecker.

Which one can possibly be right?

Love love love love co-co-nuts!, I I I I Island~~! Xo!!
LeadPal
Posted: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 1:16:35 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/26/2009
Posts: 461
Neurons: 1,413
Location: Beyond the Impossible
I once saw the word "dilemna" online, but as I don't believe I had ever seen it previously, I assumed it was a silly error. I'm surprised to hear that it's actually a silly pandemic.

Currently Reading: Nothing but textbooks
Currently Watching: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (again)
AJC
Posted: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 8:38:40 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/16/2009
Posts: 829
Neurons: 2,436
Location: United States, Michigan
da da dum.....oooohhh Joseph

Feed Your Head-Grace Slick
Johnfrommelb
Posted: Friday, August 7, 2009 6:47:47 AM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 8/7/2009
Posts: 1
Neurons: 3
Location: UK
Just to add to the confusion, I attended school in Australia and to me it's always been 'dilemna'. In fact, I don't remember ever encountering 'dilemma' previously and when finding it earlier today I thought it was a modern, incorrect, Americanisation of the word.
RuthP
Posted: Friday, August 7, 2009 12:02:17 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/2/2009
Posts: 5,070
Neurons: 49,954
Location: Drain, Oregon, United States
I must count myself among those who had never seen 'dilemna' until this thread. I searched a web dictionary called One Look (http://www.onelook.com/), which compiles results from many different dictionaries. 'Dilemma' brought up entries from a lot of dictionaries and reference sites. 'Dilemna' brought up only two, a computer science site and Wikipedia. I followed the Wikipedia link, which took me to . . . wait for it - dilemma.

In mathematics, lemma means a true proposition. I thought that was lovely when I learned it, because it made the "on the horns of a dilemma" so clear.
niceleedone
Posted: Friday, August 14, 2009 1:40:37 AM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 8/14/2009
Posts: 1
Neurons: 3
Location: United States
YOU ARE CORRECT!!!
You are not alone. The spelling was DILEMNA!!! I remember it as it were yesterday and that's how I was taught and then this spell checker thing said it was two MM's and not MN, boy I thought I was losing it and then I googled and found this site and I'm positively positive that it was previously spelled DILEMNA.
The American English language keeps evolving. Example, we now buy PANT instead of a PAIR OF PANTS, so no, you're not crazy, you're correct regardless of what anyone else says. I'm with you on this one.
word
Posted: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 3:03:42 AM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 8/18/2009
Posts: 1
Neurons: 3
Location: United States
It is curious... I was taught to spell dilemna with an "n", not with 2 m's in Catholic School. I agree, I think the word was Americanized because the n was never pronounced and the spelling was changed. I was shocked when it came up in spell check..
cat_cut
Posted: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 4:17:52 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/21/2009
Posts: 44
Neurons: 141
Location: Somewhere on Earth
hmm...I knew it's 'dilemma' all along.
Raparee
Posted: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 1:42:26 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 1,231
Neurons: 18,102
I have no idea when/where I learned to spell it as dilemna, but trust me, that's how I've spelled it for YEARS and I still have to make myself stop and spell it dilemma. (And now, of course, both look insanely wrong.) Went to Catholic school through second grade, then a good public school for two years, then a shite public school for the rest and all this in the 80s and 90s.

Tracking the origin of this debacle could be a really fun project for someone in the right field. ;)


A closed mind is like a closed book - nothing can be gained if either remains closed.
Users browsing this topic
Guest


Forum Jump
You cannot post new topics in this forum.
You cannot reply to topics in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.

Main Forum RSS : RSS
Forum Terms and Guidelines | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2008-2018 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.