Time for another installment. (To see previous editions, search my journal for the phrase "words easily" (no quotes)—that'll show the whole series.)
- defiant and definite are often misspelled as each other.
- I keep seeing develope for develop (perhaps related to envelope/envelop?) (but MW3 lists develope as an acceptable alternate spelling, even though MW10 doesn't.)
- In old science fiction books, I used to regularly encounter emphatic where they meant empathic; I'm guessing this one was an overzealous copy editor's fault.
- exalt and exult are often confused with each other.
- Another common phonetic typo: here for hear. I'm fascinated by phonetic typos, and by how easy they are to make; the typo must be generated somewhere between the intent (which usually has the right word in mind) and sending the "type these letters" command to the fingers. I suppose this is no different from speech mistakes where the speaker honestly meant to say something different from what came out, but somehow the fact that it's a phonetic mistake appearing in a written medium makes it seem odd to me.
- Here's one that's not a mistake at all: lense is an acceptable alternate spelling for lens. I started seeing this only in the past few years, and thought at first that it was a typo.
- Another common mistake: mixing up populace (a noun) and populous (an adjective), usually in phrases like * "The entire populous rose up against the King."
- I see wretch for retch fairly often, presumably because retching makes one feel wretched.
- Jay L. mentioned this in passing in a comment a while back: tact for tack (often in phrases like * "Try another tact.")
- Another common one: vice for vise, as in "He put the wood in a vice." But MW10 says this is an acceptable, though chiefly British, variant spelling, so never mind.
Finally, an item that's been on a lot of people's minds lately: the pronunciation "nucular." I'm not happy with that pronunciation, but MW10 lists it as an acceptable alternate. The usage note adds:
Though disapproved of by many, pronunciations ending in \-ky&-l&r\ have been found in widespread use among educated speakers including scientists, lawyers, professors, congressmen, U.S. cabinet members, and at least one U.S. president and one vice president. While most common in the U.S., these pronunciations have also been heard from British and Canadian speakers.
So you can certainly complain about the pronunciation, but you may have to resign yourself to it becoming more and more common over time. For those inclined to note that that pronunciation doesn't correspond to how the word is spelled, think about how most people pronounce February in casual conversation.