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What a Dilemna!Hello DilemNa speller... are you one of the millions of people worldwide that were taught to spell Dilemna with an 'N' and have been shocked to discover that you are absolutely 'wrong', because the word has apparently always been spelled with a double 'MM' as in

Well, for me it happened in 2012. Driving along on a sunny day, blissfully unaware of what was about to unfold..
I rounded a corner and suddenly came upon a huge billboard advertising a film called

The Dilemma alternate universe? "Ha Ha, brilliant, someone's made a gigantic spelling mistake in 12 foot high letters! "

After the laughter stopped I began to think that surely no one would make that big a blunder?
So maybe it's just yet another American simplified spelling of an old English word?
Yes that sounds likely, I'm sure that will be the explanation!
I got home and did a quick search on Google to confirm my assumption...


Hours of googling later...
The shocking truth turns out to be that Dilemna has never, ever been spelled with an N...
Worse yet, it's not even been given a passing mention as a possible alternative spelling in any dictionary going back hundreds of years!


In fact the origin of the word is apparently derived from two ancient Greek words, DI meaning two, and LEMMA meaning propositions or alternatives.
So the correct spelling of the word is definitely
'Dilemma' ...and always has been!

Well I was pretty taken aback by this revelation and actually felt quite a bit disorientated.
The problem I had was that it was definitely, categorically, unmistakeably, spelled with an 'N', of that I had absolutely no doubt!
In fact I have a distinct memory of the 'N' spelling being used in spelling tests at school fairly frequently, the silent 'N' would often catch people out.
Like many others you'll read in the Comments page I distinctly remembering reciting it in my head as DI.. LEM...NA so as to remember how to spell it correctly!
I would sometimes even pronounce the word out loud as in "well mate you've got a right DilemNA there!". No wonder I got some strange looks...

Blown away by the dilemna spelling dilemna.Now then here's the thing, most spelling mistakes come about because the correct spelling isn't what you'd expect it to be - for example it's very easy to understand why young kids often spell school as skool because that's the way it sounds. But with Dilemna it's a particularly odd mistake for myself and millions of others to have made because it's exactly the other way round - ie. we've somehow made the word much more complex by adding the silent N.

Why on earth would we do that!?

From the hundreds of comments received here it seems that the Dilemna with an 'N' spelling spreads across many generations from 15 to 90+ year olds and right across the world - every English speaking nation seems affected!
This site alone attracts visitors from over 50 different countries.

One of the interesting things about this spelling 'error' is that on first discovery you'll see in the Comments that very many report feeling a bit physically shaken by it - as if a fundamental building block in their upbringing has suddenly crumbled away and left them feeling disorientated.
That's certainly the way I initially felt and was pleased to see that I'm not alone!

Being someone that was taught through the excellent 1960s Scottish Education system, it's not that we were taught to be fantastic spellers and are shocked that we might possibly have made a spelling mistake, on the contrary we were constantly taught to actually doubt our spelling and encouraged to check our spelling dictionary on a regular basis. Every child had their own dictionary book. To this day that basic principle has stood me in good stead and every email I type gets checked over and I will often not be the least bit surprised that I've made a spelling mistake!

However there is something strange about discovering this error in our Dilemna spelling which somehow shocks very many people including myself!

So what is the possible explanation??

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