Monday, May 28, 2007

The return of the Spelling Nazi

It has come to my attention that almost nobody seems to be able to spell the word VICIOUS. (That I should have even noticed this is in itself is a worry; why does this word get used so much?)

VICIOUS, pronounced VISH-us, derives from VICE (as in squad, not as in carpentry or captains). There is no S in the word VICE.

The word VISCOUS, pronounced VISS-cuss, means 'thick and sticky'.

The word VISCOSE, pronounced VISS-coze, is the name of a synthetic fabric akin to rayon, polyester and so on, as in 'Do you know how many little viscoses died to make those tracky daks?'

There is no such word as VISCIOUS.


Chris said...

If you're vicious with the viscous viscose, all those crylics will have died in vain for your shiny jacket.

Bwca said...

... yeah.

Sid Vicious


discreet discrete
despatch dispatch

are the ones that throw me.

peace and love

elsewhere said...


Mindy said...

although it would be a great word for something really nasty and sticky. Sorry

Pavlov's Cat said...

Something nasty and thick and sticky, eh? Hmm.

My mnemonic for the discreet/discrete divide is 'discrete is the opposite of concrete', but I would have to look up dispatch and despatch.

Elsewhere, when you say 'Okay', I assume you mean 'Jawohl, Herr Kommandant'?

Anonymous said...

Enemy Combatant sez...

Pav, I think "the word VICIOUS" gets used so much because its last syllable is so onomatopoeically apt. It's what we do to villians in pantos, but rarely to women in uniform.

Ya vol?

Kirsty said...

I do remember having to pause in my reading once to contemplate the visual image provoked by the description of a 'viscous circle'.

Dany le roux said...

If you follow the once NSW Dept
of Ed. guidelines you could in some circumstances make "s" and"z" interchangeable.How about "viciouz" or "vizcouz" or "Zyd Viciouz"?
My pet hate is that dumbing down of spelling which results in the look of a word on a page changing too much e.g. "foetus" becoming "fetus".
Are you sure you want to be a passe Spelling Nazi?A Spelling Bondage Mistriss would be certain to keep one on one's toes and be much more exciting.

Chris said...

"I've been a bad boy"

"What did you do?"

"I've been a very very bad boy"

"Tell me how you spelt it"

"With a Z"

"That's very very bad"

OK, I'll stop now.

elsewhere said...

Absolutement, though I think I can plead innocent to have ever confused 'vicious' with 'viscous', 'couscous', 'varicose', etc. I did pay attention in Chemistry (sort of), after all.

And I didn't mean 'colon' rather than 'comma' in the semi-colon question though I probably should have said 'full stop' rather than 'comma'.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I wish I'd thought of couscous and varicose.

shula said...

God forbid that I should get pedantic on you, Pavlov...

but rayon is not a synthetic fibre

(though most people think it is).

Pavlov's Cat said...

Well, I'll be damned.

Did not know that. (Obviously.)

I would not trust Wikipedia as far as I could throw it, and think it is a Very Bad Thing -- but that particular entry is obviously authoritative.

Dany le roux said...

I have been bad as well.I should have written "Mistress".