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English spelling changes

The spelling of English words is not fixed for all time. For example, here are some everyday words, all of which were spelled differently in the past:

Word Former spelling Main date range of former spelling
pathetic pathetick 17th to early 19th century
connection connexion 17th to mid-20th century
doubt dout 13th to 16th century
show shew 13th to early 19th century

 

You can find out more about such changes in the Oxford English Dictionary Online, where you can explore the full history of words and the development of their meanings and spellings.

Oxford's dictionaries give you the currently accepted standard spellings of words and you should always use these. But the English language is constantly developing and changing: today's mistakes could eventually become the standard spellings of the future.

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Grammar and usage