Weird or Wierd?
When you find something odd and out of the ordinary, do you consider it ‘weird’ or ‘wierd’? One of the most heated debates in grammar history, getting this word wrong is easy. Yet, this blog post should help you spell it correctly, so grammar enthusiasts will stop complaining.
Let’s get into it!
What Is the Meaning of Weird?
For starters, ‘weird’ is an adjective, and according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary, it means ‘unexpected, strange, extraordinary, unnatural, or supernatural.’ As a noun, ‘weird’ has a different definition and means’ destiny, fate, and ill-fortune.’
- The fish smells and tastes weird.
- Did you hear that weird noise?
- That’s weird. I just left the TV remote on the side table. Now it’s gone.
- Do you find it weird that I talk to myself sometimes?
Original Use of Weird
The Weird Sisters
During the 8th century, some texts used the plural ‘wyrdes’ as a notational for the three classical Fates or Moirai, as they’re called in Ancient Greek (Fata in Latin), Atropos, Clotho, and Lachesis, who measured, spun, and cut people’s and demigods’ thread of life. Authors in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, including William Shakespeare, used the phrase ‘weird sisters’ to refer to them.
But, as time passed, ‘weird’ lost its supernatural meaning and is now used for things that seem strange and out of place. This change happened in the 19th century. From the early 20th century, common people, linguists, and authors have applied the word in everyday situations.
Examining Weird as Adjective, Verb, Noun, and Adverb
Using ‘weird’ as an adjective is the common use of the word. In that case, ‘weird’ describes something strange, odd, or unusual. At times, the thing described might be something upsetting.
For instance, if you woke up in the middle of the night because of a weird dream, that must have been an upsetting dream. You also use the word as an adjective when expressing things such as ‘what’s weird is that only I experience such dreams’.
Here are a few more examples:
‘My first day at work was a bit weird’ and ‘I used to do some weird stuff when I was younger.’
When using weird as a verb, you use it in the context of making someone feel ‘weird’, which is strange. Consider: ‘You’re weirding me out when you do that. Stop it.’
Nouns like ‘weird’ or ‘weirdness’ are commonly used when referring to fate, destiny, or even the Fates themselves.
When used as an adverb, ‘weirdly’ describes the verb. Think of phrases like ‘that was said weirdly’, meaning that the way a person conveyed a message was weird.
What Is the Correct Spelling: Weird or Wierd?
The world ‘wierd’ is a misspelling of ‘weird’, with the ‘e’ and ‘i’ the wrong way round. One explanation could be that they’re following a specific rule, known as the ‘i before e, except after c’.
For the most part, this rule is a decent guide for spelling. For example, some words that follow it are: yield, believe, deceive, and receipt.
The I Before E and E Before I Rule
By far, one of the trickiest spelling issues in the English language is remembering whether the vowels in a word follow ‘e before i’ or ‘i before e’. Most people are taught the ‘i before e, except after c’ rhyme to remember the rule. But, even though this is a smart mnemonic, it’s more often wrong than right.
What Is a Mnemonic?
A mnemonic is a tool that helps us remember large amounts of information or facts. To form a mnemonic, people use a song, phrase, rhyme, sentence, or acronym. In fact, a mnemonic is like a cheat code if you have trouble memorising a concept. It works because your mind can easily remember information related to an event, song, or fun phrase. Doctors, linguists, artists, and students are some people who use mnemonics in their daily lives.
Regarding the ‘i before e, except after c’ rule, it turns out that when talking about ‘i’ and ‘e’, the rule applies. In a word without the letter ‘c’, ‘i’ almost always comes before ‘e’. However, there are many exceptions to the ‘e before i, except after c’ rule.
For example, ‘weird’ is the exception to the rule!
Additionally to ‘weird’, words such as ‘vein, weight, neighbour, and height’ are also exceptions. So, there is only one way to spell ‘weird’ correctly, and that is always with ‘ei’ in the middle:
Please, stop being so wierd.
Please, stop being weird.
This cat looks super wierd.
This cat looks super weird.
To put it differently, ‘wierd’ has a ‘weird’ spelling!
Common Misspelt Words
Below you can find some of the most common misspelt words in modern English, including ‘weird’:
Correct Spelling Common Misspelling
Now that you know what words are often spelt wrong, you should focus on avoiding making similar grammatical mistakes.
Read on to find the best spelling tricks!
How to Remember the Correct Spelling
Being confused with the spelling of ‘weird’ is OK. You’re not alone. As previously mentioned, most people use the mnemonic ‘i before e except after c’ but don’t always remember the words that don’t follow the rule.
Here are a few helpful tricks to remember the spelling of the word ‘weird’:
- Spell check. Using a word processing software is great since it catches ‘wierd’ and flags it. So, use one to be on the safe side.
- Weird is a weird word. ‘Weird’ doesn’t follow the rule because it is… ‘weird’! That is all there is to it!
- Use an online dictionary. If you don’t want to use a spell checker for some reason, opting for an online or offline dictionary is all that is needed to find the correct spelling.
- Just try to remember it. Good memorisation is unbeatable, so if you really want to learn the spelling of ‘weird’ by heart, you have to memorise it.
- Forget the mnemonic. According to a 1932 study, from 128 common words containing ‘e’ and ‘i’, only 65% of them are followed by the ‘i before, except c’ rule. Hence, the rule should change to ‘i usually comes before e’ to be in the clear.
- Break the word down phonetically. When you sound out the word, you discover it’s pronounced as a two-syllable word: ‘We’ and ‘ird’: ‘Weird.’
Conclusion: Is it Weird or Wierd?
‘Weird’ is an adjective and means’ strange, uncanny, or out of place’. Sometimes, people misspell it as ‘wierd’ because it seems natural to apply the ‘i before e’ spelling rule. To avoid making this mistake, make sure that the spelling of the word ‘wierd’ is weird’!
In every case, remember that mnemonics don’t cater to all grammar rules. Make sure you know the exceptions to the rule you are using, and apply everything with a grain of salt unless you have verified it first. The misunderstanding about the spelling of ‘weird’ serves as a fine example of where mnemonics and grammar rules are not always the norm and often have many exceptions.
So, if you’d like more help with your spelling or another part of your writing, know that our expert content writers, editors, and proofreaders can help.