Monday, June 11, 2007


The English language is strange. For example, why can something be "undoubtable," and yet can't be "undoubtably" (as there's no such word) true ? We have to use "undoubtedly" - it's tricky, all too easy to slip up. I had to check my dictionary on that one, just to be sure.

Of course, to make matters even more complicated, there is also "indubitably."

I did a Google seach for "undoubtably" and got 448,000 links, although a handful of those were pointing out the misspelling.


SarahJane said...

well, if people are using it, it lives and breathes, and will eventually get its dictionary entry. if people stop using, it will keep its entry, but someday be labeled "arch."
"indubitably" is more fun than "undoubtedly," but the masses will win.

SarahJane said...

i mean, "undoubtably!"
but then again, do I? aren't there both?

Colin Will said...


Rob said...

Don't know about that, Sarah - "undoubtedly", the correct form, gets 30,600,000 links from a Google search. So the "undoubtably" users are still very much mistaken. However, I'm sure I have used it when speaking.

I wish I could bring myself to use a word like "indubitably" in spoken language. But if I did, someone would probably hit me.

I dare say this seeming lack of logic makes writing in English so much fun.

Bandersnatchi said...

These are the means by which we ken the native speakers from the spies among us.

what's a liyiyrx?

SarahJane said...

I can't remember which dictionary it is, but there's one that adds new words every year... I'll try searching it up.

Rob said...

Sarah, you're making me think. There is such a dictionary, and the English language is contantly evolving. I think of new words like "hoodie" that have been coined in recent times.

But is there a difference between a newly coined word like "hoodie", and mistaken usage like "undoubtably"?

Rob said...

You don't know what a "liyiyrx" is?

SarahJane said...

hi rob -
i checked it out and in fact as far as I could tell all dictionaries update annually. I was thinking more about how long the lexicographers wait before allowing a word into the dictionary.
Seems a new word like "google" (v) has to ferment for a couple or more years before they're sure it's really sticking around, whereas a word like "undoubtably" would have to stand by a bit longer (i think some people are hoping they'll go away). Maybe it's along the lines of having a novel and necessary word for something new like a "ringtone," and something that's a variation/deformation of an already existing word. I think of the so-called "eggcorns" like "for all intensive purposes" (ie for all intents and purposes), and "the some of its parts" (the sum of its parts). Eventually, if everyone is learning and using them wrong, the "wrong" usage will become the accepted usage, or at least an alternative. Think of all those latin plurals like fora vs forums. Once only one of those was "right."
enjoyed your post - i put some new words up on my blog, too.

sefton said...

This is nonsurprising--for all intensive purposes, English is an unimitatable language, supposably.

Bandersnatchi said...

Here you go:

I have had a word approved in there:


You can look it up.



Rob said...

Excellent, Geoff!

So let's all start using "heartblink" and see how long it takes before it's in the Oxford Dictionary.

SarahJane said...

& only a heartblink away.

William said...

My quick websearch 5 minutes ago claimed the word has been used for over 500 years.

Curious about why it should be in disrepute...