Blog/Grammar tips
12 November 2023
2 min read

Weird or Wierd? Breaking Down the Spelling

Have you ever paused while spelling "weird" and wondered if it's "i" before "e" or the other way around? This word often trips people up, thanks to the common spelling rule it defies. In this article, we'll clarify the correct spelling of "weird" and delve into why it's an exception to a well-known spelling guideline.

What Does Weird Mean?

"Weird" refers to something that is unusual, strange, or extraordinary. For example:

  • That was a really weird dream I had last night.
  • The play had a weird mix of comedy and drama.

While the word itself may denote the unusual, its spelling is peculiarly nonconforming too.

Word Formation and Etymology

Understanding the background of "weird" can help in grasping its unconventional spelling:

  • Etymology: The word "weird" comes from the Old English "wyrd", meaning "fate" or "destiny". It was popularized in its modern sense by Shakespeare in "Macbeth", with the "Weird Sisters".
  • Evolution of Spelling: The transition from "wyrd" to "weird" over time has contributed to its current spelling, which goes against the more familiar "i before e" rule.

The "I Before E" Rule and Its Exception

"Weird" is a notable exception to the common spelling rule "i before e, except after c":

  • Rule: This mnemonic rule generally suggests that "i" comes before "e" in most words.
  • Exception: "Weird" breaks this rule, as the correct spelling is "w-e-i-r-d", not "w-i-e-r-d".

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Summary and Reminder

To summarize, remember that "weird" is spelled with the 'e' before the 'i', making it an exception to the common spelling rule. Keep this exception in mind to avoid a common mistake.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does "weird" not follow the "i before e" rule?

The spelling of "weird" is rooted in its historical evolution from Old English, which leads it to be an exception to the rule.

Are there other words that break the "i before e" rule?

Yes, several other words also break this rule, such as "seize", "neither", and "protein".

How can I remember the correct spelling of "weird"?

A useful tip is to remember the phrase "weird is the weirdo that doesn't follow the rule".

Is "weird" spelled differently in British and American English?

No, "weird" is spelled the same way in both British and American English.

Can relying on spell-check help with words like "weird"?

While spell-check can be useful, it's important to know the exceptions to common rules to understand why a spell-check might flag a word.

Conclusion

Remembering that "weird" defies the usual "i before e" rule can help you spell it correctly every time. Understanding its etymological roots provides insight into this spelling anomaly.

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