• Spelling


    • Canada IPA: /ˈspÉ›lɪŋ/
    • Rhymes: -É›lɪŋ
    • Hyphenation: spell + ing


    1400s, from spell (verb) + -ing.


    1. Present participle of spell
      • 2006, Wm. Shakespeare, Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor, eds., Hamlet, London: Arden Shakespeare:p 88 A persuasive theory about the authority of the quarto or Folio texts might shed light on how Shakespeare actually spelt these names in a particular manuscript, but, since Shakespeare seemed capable of spelling his own name differently on different occasions, how reliable a guide would such evidence be?

    Full definition of spelling



    (countable and uncountable; plural spellings)
    (a verbal noun of the verb spell).
    1. (uncountable) The act, practice, ability, or subject of forming words with letters, or of reading the letters of words; orthography.
      • 1904, Andrew Dickson White, Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White, p 43:For the practical use of spelling comes in writing.
      • 1920, Henry Gallup Paine, Handbook of Simplified Spelling, New York: Simplified Spelling Board, p 1:Spelling was invented by man and, like other human inventions, is capable of development and improvement by man in the direction of simplicity, economy, and efficiency.
      • 2001, , The Program, New York: Dell, p 66:I knew that Kriciak, the inspector who was supervising me for the Marshals Service, was going to go nuts when I told him that I wanted to allow Landon to participate in soccer and spelling.
    2. (uncountable) The manner of spelling of words; correct spelling.
      • 2006, Wm. Shakespeare, Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor, eds., Hamlet, London: Arden Shakespeare:88 Because Elizabethan spelling was fluid, editors feel free to ‘modernize’ (correct) the spelling in the quartos and the Folio. But how is one to spell Rosencratz or Guildenstern, where the spelling varies, not only from text to text, but even within texts?
    3. (countable) A specific spelling of a word.
      • 2006, Wm. Shakespeare, Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor, eds., Hamlet, London: Arden Shakespeare:p 253 *excellent  Q2’s ‘extent’ is generally dismissed as an error, probably a mis-reading of ‘exlent’, a common spelling at this time.269 reverend  The spellings ‘reuerent’ (Q2) and ‘Reuerend’ (F) were interchangeable at this time.p 466 Guildensterne and Rosincrance are F’s consistent spellings.
    4. (US, rare, dated, countable or uncountable) A spelling test or spelling bee.
      • 1860, Oscar Lawrence Jackson, The Colonel's Diary: Journals Kept Before and During the Civil War 1922, Sharon, Penn., p 23:The boys were anxious for a spelling in the evening but I said no.
      • 1889, James Whitcomb Riley, “A’ Old Played-Out Song”, in Pipes O' Pan at Zekesbury, Indianapolis, Ind.: Bowen-Merrill, p 45:How her face ust to look, in the twilight, / As I tuck her to spellin’; and she / Kep’ a-hummin’ that song ’tel I ast her, / Pine-blank, ef she ever missed me!
      • 2004, Carl Lindahl, ed., American Folktales: From the Collections of the Library of Congress, v 1, Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, p 416:So we'd sit with these girls during school hours, and we told them, if they'd slip off, that we'd get away, and we'd go to school to a spelling.


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