It's a real DILEMNA, how should I spell it?Are you one of the millions worldwide that have always spelled the word with an 'n' as Dilemna and have been shocked and discombobulated to find that you are absolutely 'wrong' because the word has apparently always been spelled with a double 'm' as 'Dilemma'....
It is truly weird for all us Dilemna spellers as we've grown up knowing that it is spelled with an 'n' and to see it written with 2 m's just looks absolutely wrong!
Many of us would have been willing to bet money that it is spelled with an 'n', no question at all! But then we are totally shocked to find spell checkers correcting our spelling... ok so let's check a dictionary, hmmm that's weird it also says 2 m's... ok so let's get a really old dictionary from our childhood, I'm sure that will explain it.... aaargh no, it also says 2 m's !!!
(and with not even a passing reference to an 'n' spelling)
(although I've noticed Wikipedia now at least gives it a mention - due to popular demand I hope!)
Now before all you sceptics just write this all off as stupid people not learning to spell properly please try to remember a time before the internet and spell checking mobiles etc. In those days you relied on a dictionary. Dictionaries and Encyclopedias were almost like Bibles in peoples homes and were referred to constantly. It was seen as showing a lack of education if you mispelled a word and so dictionaries were constantly checked whenever you wrote a letter or did any school homework. A dictionary was by your side constantly and in fact were often provided free to children by schools.
Ok, so in that case how come no one over the past 2 or 3 hundred years has said, hey wait a minute, that's not how you spell Dilemna!
(Yes, dictionaries going back that long also have absolutely no mention of the Dilemna spelling!)
As a youngster I was frequently top of the class in spelling competitions and distinctly remember dilemna being used fairly often for the precise reason that the silent 'n' caught everyone out!
If it were an isolated incident affecting one English speaking country or a certain age group then it could easily be explained away as probably a typing error in a text book. However that's not the case... It spreads throughout the world and affects people of all generations...
(This page alone gets thousands of visitors a month... wow!)
So, what is the correct spelling then?
Well unfortunately 'Dilemma' people have quite a strong case and can point to the word itself originating from the Greek word 'lemma' which means 'propositions' or 'alternatives' and the 'di' means 2.
That's quite a good argument for spelling it with 2 m's of course but then again it actually heightens the mystery as to why anyone would then insert a silent 'n' - makes no sense to make a simple spelling more complex, for no reason!
Is there any explanation? Well here's a cracker of a theory to give you pause for thought:
Many years ago scientists began discussing the possibility of 'multiple universes'. This idea has now achieved widespread support for the simple reason that not only is it a very possible explanation it's almost an inevitable conclusion because otherwise all the mathematical sums struggle to add up. At the time, alternate universe enthusiast Marden Paul actually put forward a theory that Dilemna people had all somehow crossed over into this different 'Dilemma' spelling universe and that's why they are staggered to discover that not only are they wrong but there's no trace of an N spelling anywhere in the history of this universe!
I've seen many forums and blogs where the person suggesting that Dilemna is the correct spelling gets rubbished by other people who state that it's just a tiny minority of people that have been poorly educated who spell it wrongly with the 'N'. Well, here's a bit of homework for you folk - go to Google and do a search for Dilemna in their search books section... prepare to be staggered by the number of books currently in print with that spelling! (all of which will have been 'proof read' to eliminate any mistakes...)
Is there any explanation apart from alternate universes?
Well here's one 1720 dictionary where it at least gets a mention, so maybe there is some hope... (or maybe the writer was just another lost soul from our much more classy Dilemna universe?)
Well that's it folks, make your own mind up. Personally I think 'Dilemma' just looks plain horrible and always will. So there's no dilemna for me at all as to which is the correct spelling - it will always be the much more classy version, DILEMNA!
Beam me up Scotty.
Vote your choice at the top of this page.