The Clew of the Misspelled Word

Vol. XXIII No. 1 - SPRING 2012

By: Morry Matson

Anyone who browses the internet and peruses old newspaper articles of the Chicago Tribune between the years 1934 to 1975 may come across some rather oddly spelled words. Were they glaring mistakes? Was the editor an vacation?

During the years when Col. Robert McCormick was publisher of the Tribune (1934-1955), the efficient military man surmised that reforming the spelling of common words would make newspaper articles easier to read.

The McCormick system of spelling modification never caught on past the pages of the Chicago Tribune. Most readers found the new spelling of common words either amusing or confusing. Most of the reformed words were returned to their original spellings after McCormick’s death, but some did linger until the mid 1970s until the entire system was abandoned.

If this is sounding familiar to you, go through the list and see if you have used some of these alternate spellings in notes to friends or maybe in a text message. From the perspective of 2012, maybe Col. McCormick had the right idea.

  • Agast for Aghast
  • Criscross for crisscross
  • Extoled for extolled
  • Fantom for phantom
  • Frate for Freight
  • Indefinitly for indefinitely
  • Monolog for monologue
  • Rime for rhyme
  • Subpena for subpoena
  • Warent for warrant