Cacography

by Heather

Vest-Pocket Vocabulary

Cacog’raphy, n. bad spelling.

Word in the Wild: Cynthia had studied like mad, reviewing etymologies, rules, exceptions, and mnemonics until she’d made it here to the final round of the spelling bee. She began to spell altiloquence with aplomb, but when she uttered the letter k the erstwhile silent audience drew in a collective gasp of dismay, and she knew all her work had been for naught, that she’d be forever known for her cacography.

Caco- is from the Greek for bad or evil, and -graphy is Greek for writing, so cacography is bad or evil writing. The OED shows that cacography can mean both bad spelling, as in the Vest-Pocket Dictionary, or bad handwriting, the opposite of calligraphy.

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