Created By: Prfnoff on May 9, 2015 Last Edited By: Prfnoff on August 17, 2016
Troped

Misspelling Out Loud

Spelling a word out loud and clear and hilariously wrong.

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Trope
Someone has to spell a word out loud, for the sake of clarity, for emphasis, or because they're in a Spelling Bee, and they make an elementary spelling mistake or even spell a different word entirely. This generally reflects negatively on the character's intelligence or attentiveness.

In English, these common spelling mistakes include inserting a spurious silent E, changing a hard S to a Z, or almost any of the mangled spellings whose deliberate use is described under Xtreme Kool Letterz.

Compare Acquired Error at the Printer, L Is for Dyslexia, Malaproper, Two Words: I Can't Count.


Examples:

Film
  • Ali G Indahouse: Ali G hears the M.P.s arguing and stands up to tell them they should "restecp" each other more.
    Ali G: R.E.S.T.E.C.P! Do ya even know wha it spellz?
    Cabinet M.P.: Restecp?
  • Earth Girls Are Easy features the Bad Girl Song "'Cause I'm a Blonde," in which the singer spells "blonde" a different way during each chorus (B-L-O-N-D, B-L-I-N-D, and B-L-"I don't know," respectively.) It also contains the lyrics:
    I can't spell VW
    but I've got a Porsche!
  • Robin Hood: Men in Tights:
    Don Giovanni: OK, you want plain English: Robin is gonna be dead. D-E-D. Dead.
  • In the second Teen Beach Movie, Tanner tells Brady:
    Tanner: But in my world, we have our own word. Confidence. It's spelled K-O-N...fidence.
  • A rare instance of this trope being Invoked for Drama occurs in There's No Business Like Show Business. After Tim gets drunk and crashes his car with a passenger, both of them miraculously surviving with barely a scratch, the stress of learning what happened combined with Tim's lack of remorse causes his father Terence to tell him off.
    Terence: What's got into you? Who do you think you are? I'll tell you what you are. You're nothing, because you've made yourself nothing, you conceited little punk. I wouldn't care if I never saw you again.
    Tim: Well, come on now, pop. I heard there was a big crop of corn this year, but—
    Terence: What?
    Tim: Corn. H-A-M. Corn. [Terence slaps him across the face and storms out of the room.]
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit:
    Roger: Dames? What dames? Jessica's the only one for me! You'll see! We'll rise above this piddling peccadillo! We're gonna be happy again! You got that? Happy! Capital H-A-P-P-I!
  • In The Wizard of Speed and Time, when C. C. de Schwartz fires Harvey Bookman, he shouts "You're out, Bookman! O-W-T!"
  • In Zoolander, used by Derek to explain to Mathilda why he couldn't have been missing for a week:
    Derek: Uh, earth to Mathilda! I was at a day spa. Day. D-A-I-Y-E. Ok?

Literature

Live-Action TV
  • In Friends, ''TOW The Blind Dates" Joey tells Monica and Chandler they need to be more responsible babysitters: "You can't have S-E-X when you're looking after a B-A-B-I-E!"
  • On the Married... with Children episode 'Al Goes to the Dogs' (season 10 ep. 22), when Kelly gets caught making out with a man by her family on their front door, she gets startled and pushes him away:
    Kelly: God, do I have to spell it out for you? G-N-O spells 'no'!
  • Parks and Recreation: In the episode in which Ron and Diane first meet, we get this from Andy, though it probably says more about his inattention than intelligence:
    Andy: Ron and Diane sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I!

Magazines
  • MAD:
    • In one "Lighter Side Of..." strip two parents are discussing their son, who is having problems at school, and resort to Censorship by Spelling to talk about it in front of him.
      Mother: I-M W-O-R-R-I-E-D T-H-A-T H-E M-A-Y B-E S-T-U-N-T-E-D I-N-T-E-L-L-E-C-T-U-A-L-Y.
      Son: That's I-N-T-E-L-L-E-C-T-U-A-L-L-Y!
    • And in another "Lighter Side"
      Woman: [about a nearby girl] She's not very P-R-E-T-Y, is she?
      Girl: But I'm very S-M-A-R-T, and by the way, "pretty" is spelled with two Ts.

Music
  • From "Young, Dumb, and Ugly" by "Weird Al" Yankovic:
    We got three-day stubble. Our name spells "trouble".
    T-R-U-B-E-L.

Theatre
  • In Bells Are Ringing, Ella, being threatened by Sandor and the Corvello henchmen, tries to tell them that the police are in pursuit:
    Ella (to Sandor): Inspector Barnes!
    Sandor: Barnes?
    Ella: Barnz! B-A-R-N-Z!
    Sandor: Z?
    Ella: Z!! The whole thing was a trap. He was after you the whole time.
  • In Wonderful Town, the Wreck sings that he went through college as a Dumb Jock who "thought that dog was c-a-t."

Video Games
  • In Portal 2, one of the highly memetic Space Core's many, many lines about space includes him spelling the word "space":
    Space Core: S-P... uh... Ace.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation
  • One Arthur episode revolves around a school spelling bee, with multiple examples.
  • The Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Too Smart for his own Ed" has Jimmy training Rolf for the spelling be with a ''Baby's First Words" book; here, he's trying to spell "Watch."
    "W-O-C-H. Wristclock."
    • "R-E-S-P-E-E-K. Respect, Double D."
  • In one episode of Johnny Test, the title character is in a Spelling Bee and is asked to spell "go". He spells it "G-E-A-U-X".
  • Looney Tunes
    • "Baby Bottleneck": Daffy Duck is asked to hatch an egg.
      Daffy: Oh, no! Oh-ho-ho no! Sitting on eggs is out! O-W-T, out!
    • "A Bear for Punishment": Junyer Bear goes to get tobacco for his dad's pipe.
      Junyer: G-U-N-P-O-W-D-E-R, tobacco. I am a good speller, I am. C-A-T, dog. B-A-T, Rhode Island.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit
    Roger: Dames? What dames? Jessica's the only one for me! You'll see! We'll rise above this piddling pecadillo! We're gonna be happy again! You got that? Happy! Capital H-A-P-P-I!
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh:
    Tigger: Name's Tigger. Tee-aye-double-guh-ur. That spells Tigger.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode "Homer Goes to College," Homer gets his college application back and lights his high school diploma on fire, hilariously misspelling the word "smart" before quickly correcting himself:
      Homer: I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean S-M-A-R-T!note 
    • In the episode "Krusty Gets Busted":
      Homer: Earth to Marge, I was there. The clown is G-I-L-L-T-Y.
  • The first Tom and Jerry short "Puss Gets the Boot" has Mammy Two-Shoes saying that Tom (or Jasper as he was called) that he's going out: "O-W-T." This was was later redubbed to make the spelling correct so it would seem less offensive to blacks.
  • VeggieTales: In "Larry-Boy and the Fib from Outer Space!", Jimmy Gourd complains that nothing interesting ever happens at his job:
    Jimmy Gourd: Nothin'! Nothin'! N-U-T, uh... You know, nothin'.

Community Feedback Replies: 58
  • May 9, 2015
    Tuckerscreator
    • Poohs Grand Adventure: When Owl is deciphering Christopher Robin's note.
      Owl': He has gone to S-C-H-O-O-L! SKULL!
  • May 9, 2015
    MorningStar1337
    ^ that is more of an inversion
  • May 9, 2015
    BKelly95
    Music
    • From "Young, Dumb, and Ugly" by Weird Al Yankovic:
      We got three-day stubble. Our name spells "trouble".
      T-R-U-B-E-L.
  • May 10, 2015
    Snicka
    • From Ali G Indahouse: Ali G hears the M.P.s arguing and stands up to tell them they should "restecp" each other more.
      Ali G: R.E.S.T.E.C.P! Do ya even know wha it spellz?
      Cabinet M.P.: Restecp?
  • May 10, 2015
    Chernoskill
    Western Animation

    • In the The Simpsons episode "Homer goes to college", Homer gets his college application back and lights his high school diploma on fire, hilariously misspelling the word "smart", before quickly correcting himself:

      Homer: I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean S-M-A-R-T!
  • May 10, 2015
    NateTheGreat
    The contestants of Knightmare have to dispell magical spells that are cast on them by reading aloud the letters of the spell in reverse order. Mistakes tend to happen, and it gets funnier the more confident the contestants get that this time they got it right when they didn't. See Spoony's review here.
  • May 10, 2015
    TonyG
    • Looney Tunes
      Daffy: Oh, no! Oh-ho-ho no! Sitting on eggs is out! O-W-T, out!
      Junyer: G-U-N-P-O-W-D-E-R, tobacco. I am a good speller, I am. C-A-T, dog. B-A-T, Rhode Island.
    • Who Framed Roger Rabbit
      Roger: Dames? What dames? Jessica's the only one for me! You'll see! We'll rise above this piddling pecadillo! We're gonna be happy again! You got that? Happy! Capital H-A-P-P-I!
  • May 10, 2015
    LadyEvil
    • One Tom And Jerry cartoon has Mammy Two-Shoes tell Tom "You is goin' out! Oh-dubya-tee, out!"

    Bit of trivia on the Simpsons example: It was spelled right in the script, but Dan Castellaneta flubbed his line. They kept it anyway because it just fit so well.
  • May 10, 2015
    Chernoskill
    ^ I didn't know that, makes it even funnier :D They kept it for foreign dubs (localized, of course) as well AFAIK.
  • May 13, 2015
    Snicka
    ^^ If you want to add that piece of trivia, then it's also an example of Throw It In.
  • May 14, 2015
    TonyG
  • May 14, 2015
    SolipSchism
    Would this be a way to play with that?:

    • In In The Loop, Senator Linden, who dislikes swearing, insults Sir Swears A Lot Malcolm Tucker by calling him a "useless piece of S-Star-Star-T". Malcolm responds:
      "You are a real boring fuck. Sorry, sorry, I know you disapprove of swearing, so I'll sort that out: You are a boring F-Star-Star-Cunt."
  • May 14, 2015
    eroock
  • May 15, 2015
    SolipSchism
    ^ Oh, well, yeah, that would definitely apply to my last post. But the Country Matters bit was what I had in mind for how it might apply to this trope as well.
  • May 15, 2015
    BKelly95
    Web Original
    • This story at Not Always Right has a customer demand his money back because he didn't like the book. He doesn't have a receipt and the cashier tells him the best they can do is store credit. He replies "No, the best you can do is money. M-U-N-N-Y!" Another customer really lays into him, even pointing out his spelling error.
  • May 16, 2015
    LadyEvil
    • In the Ancient Rome scene of History Of The World Part I, Swiftus tells Comicus "Oh, you are nuts. N-V-T-S, nuts!" Perhaps justified in that the alphabet of Ancient Rome didn't have a U. A scene where Comicus goes to the unemployment office has a sign reading "VNEMPLOYMENT INSVRANCE". (Don't ask why it's in English.)
  • May 18, 2015
    randomsurfer
    • Winnie The Pooh:
      • Pooh's honey pots have HUNNY written on them.
      • When Christopher Robin goes away he leaves a note: "GON OWT. BACKSON. BISY BACKSON." It turns out that Christopher Robin is going to school in the mornings. The next day he leaves a better note: "GONE OUT BACK SOON."
      • Owl is described as very wise and can spell
        • He can even spell his own name: WOL.
        • When Pooh gets Owl's help making a birthday card for Christopher Robin, Owl claims he's writing "A very happy birthday with love from Pooh" but he actually writes "HIPY PAPY BTHUTHDTH THUTHDA BTHUTHDY."
    • The Simpsons: In "Lady Bouvier's Lover" when Homer is tasked with decorating a cake for Maggie's first birthday he misspells the cake. "What, it's not Magaggie's birthday? Oh."

  • May 18, 2015
    SolipSchism
    ^ Might want to Read That Again. "Someone has to spell a word out loud". It's not just about characters who can't spell.

    Video Game:
    • In Portal 2, one of the highly memetic Space Core's many, many lines about space includes him spelling the word "space":
      Space Core: S-P... uh... Ace.

    Oh, this one just occurred to me as well:

    Film—Live Action:
  • May 18, 2015
    LadyEvil
    • In the Weird Al Yankovic song "Albuquerque", he spells the name of the song "A-L-B-U....kurky!"
  • May 18, 2015
    SolipSchism
    ...Is this another fire-and-forget YKTTW? :/
  • May 18, 2015
    randomsurfer
    ^^^I accept that the writeup says they spell it out loud. However, I find it difficult to believe that spelling things incorrectly out loud and writing them down are so very different as to require two distinct tropes.
  • May 18, 2015
    Kartoonkid95
    • Another Simpsons example, from "Krusty Gets Busted"
      Homer: Earth to Marge, I was there. The clown is G-I-L-L-T-Y.
    • The Ed Edd N Eddy episode "Too Smart for his own Ed" has Jimmy training Rolf for the spelling be with a ''Baby's First Words" book; here, he's trying to spell "Watch."
      "W-O-C-H. Wristclock."
    • The first Tom And Jerry short "Puss Gets the Boot" has Mammy Two-Shoes saying that Tom (or Jasper as he was called) that he's going out: "O-W-T." This was was later redubbed to make the spelling correct so it would seem less offensive to blacks.
  • May 19, 2015
    SolipSchism
    ^^ On the contrary, I don't think they require two distinct tropes—because I think "people who are poor spellers" is Chairs. Some people are bad at spelling. That's just a thing.
  • May 20, 2015
    randomsurfer
    ^Then how is spelling things incorrectly out loud any less chairs? We're not talking about "people." We're talking about "characters" whose behavior, including being bad at spelling, is dictated by an author who would be using that to convey character. Show me a smart character note  who is bad at spelling.

    Irrespective of the above:
    • Mad Magazine
      • In one "Lighter Side Of..." strip two parents are discussing their son, who is having problems at school, and resort to Censorship By Spelling to talk about it in front of him.
      Mother: I-M W-O-R-R-I-E-D T-H-A-T H-E M-A-Y B-E S-T-U-N-T-E-D I-N-T-E-L-L-E-C-T-U-A-L-Y.
      Son: That's I-N-T-E-L-L-E-C-T-U-A-L-L-Y!
      • And in another "Lighter Side"
      Woman: [about a nearby girl] She's not very P-R-E-T-Y, is she?
      Girl: But I'm very S-M-A-R-T, and by the way, "pretty" is spelled with two Ts.
  • May 20, 2015
    SolipSchism
    ^ Because "spelling things wrong" is just a thing that happens and isn't particularly funny or meaningful in and of itself.

    On the other hand, spelling things out loud and comically wrong is a gag. It's a stock gag, really.
  • May 20, 2015
    MegaMarioMan
    In one episode of Johnny Test, the title character is in a spelling bee and is asked to spell "go". He spells it "G-E-A-U-X".
  • May 21, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • When the Monstars from Space Jam burst into Schlesinger's Gym to meet Michael Jordan, the Monstar Nawt introduces them: "We're the Monstars, M-O-N-..." then falls silent, unsure of the spelling.
  • June 10, 2015
    SolipSchism
    Huh. I just saw this, wonder if it fits. I'm not a hundred percent sure, but if I understood the scene correctly, Tim is mocking Terence's emotional reaction, i.e., he's implying that his dad is being corny and a Large Ham.

    EDIT: Ugh, fucking YKTTW formatting. Also, apparently we don't have a page for the film. That's surprising. Anyway, potholed it to display correctly.

    Film (It was a stage production first, but I've never seen it on stage so I don't know if these lines are in the stage version):

    • A rare instance of this trope being Invoked for Drama occurs in There's No Business Like Show Business. After Tim gets drunk and crashes his car with a passenger, both of them miraculously surviving with barely a scratch, the stress of learning what happened combined with Tim's lack of remorse causes his father Terence to tell him off.

      Terence: What's got into you? Who do you think you are? I'll tell you what you are. You're nothing, because you've made yourself nothing, you conceited little punk. I wouldn't care if I never saw you again.
      Tim: Well, come on now, pop. I heard there was a big crop of corn this year, but—
      Terence: What?
      Tim: Corn. H-A-M. Corn. [Terence slaps him across the face and storms out of the room.]
  • June 11, 2015
    Snicka

    Nevermind, the word is not spelled out loud in this example.
  • June 11, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • Lois Lane from the first Superman movie tries to convince editor-in-chief Perry White to let her pursue the super-man story. While listening to Lois, Perry glances at her typewriter, and replies, "There's no Z in brassiere." It helps to establish Lois as a flighty Faux Action Girl who needs all the rescuing she can get.
  • June 12, 2015
    f1shst1x
    • In Zoolander, used by Derek to explain to Mathilda why he couldn't have been missing for a week:
      Derek: Uh, earth to Mathilda! I was at a day spa. Day. D-A-I-Y-E. Ok?
  • June 12, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    • Earth Girls Are Easy features the Bad Girl Song "'Cause I'm a Blonde," in which the singer spells "blonde" a different way during each chorus (B-L-O-N-D, B-L-I-N-D, and B-L-"I don't know," respectively.) It also contains the lyrics:
      I can't spell VW
      but I've got a Porsche!
  • July 27, 2015
    Tuckerscreator
    • In Inside Out, Bing-Bong mistakenly reads D-A-N-G-E-R to read "shortcut". Justified because he's Riley's imaginary friend from when she was little, during which she could recognize individual letters but couldn't spell full words.
  • July 27, 2015
    Alucard
    Related to Malaproper

    Fan Works
    • Resident Serial Killer Genocide Jill in Danganronpa Parody gives this little number after finding a corpse in the garden in episode 5.
      Jill: Let me spell it out for you. A dead B.O.D.E!
      Byakuya: Great! And that came from the 'Ultimate Writer'!
  • July 28, 2015
    SibunaTheSecond
    • In the second Teen Beach Movie, Tanner tells Brady:
      Tanner: But in my world, we have our own word. Confidence. It's spelled K-O-N...fidence.

  • July 29, 2015
    Prfnoff
    @SolipSchism: No, it wasn't a stage production first. It's an original movie Jukebox Musical (though sort of a remake of the similar Alexander's Ragtime Band).
  • July 29, 2015
    BOFH
    Film
  • July 29, 2015
    MetaFour
    Western Animation:
    • Veggie Tales: In "Larry-Boy and the Fib from Outer Space!", Jimmy Gourd complains that nothing interesting ever happens at his job:
      Jimmy Gourd: Nothin'! Nothin'! N-U-T, uh... You know, nothin'.
  • August 3, 2015
    randomsurfer
    Music:
    • In the song "Rag Mop" rag mop is spelled R-A-G-G M-O-P-P.
    • In Danny Kaye's "D-O-D-G-E-R-S Song" the opposing team's name is misspelled.
      We defy / Defy the J-I / J-I-N / J-I-N-T / J-I-N-T-S! Gi'nts!
  • August 4, 2015
    69BookWorM69
    Have a hat.
  • August 4, 2015
    robinjohnson
    • Inverted in Fawlty Towers: Sybil suggests having Manuel's pet rat put to "S-L-E-E-P". Manuel, confused, asks: "Spleep?"
  • August 4, 2015
    ClockStopping
  • August 20, 2015
    Alucard
    So... is this thing ready to go yet?
  • August 21, 2015
    Arivne
    Compare the YKTTW proposal Two Words: I Can't Count, in which someone miscounts the number of words in a phrase.
  • August 23, 2015
    chicagomel
    • There's a Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode where Xander mishears another character's spelling of "Bitch".
      Xander: B-I-T-C-A?

    Not sure if it counts though.
  • August 23, 2015
    chicagomel
    actually no it doesn't, I messed up. He just misheard the spelling.
  • September 10, 2015
    SvartiKotturinn
  • September 10, 2015
    SvartiKotturinn
    • On the Married With Children episode 'Al Goes to the Dogs' (season 10 ep. 22), when Kelly gets caught making out with a man by her family on their front door, she gets startled and pushes him away:
      Kelly: God, do I have to spell it out for you? G-N-O spells 'no'!
  • October 29, 2015
    Alucard
    Still hasn't been launched.

    And it lost a hat in that time period. Is Prfnoff still there?
  • October 30, 2015
    DAN004
    Is the title really clear?
  • October 30, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    I agree, the title is really confusing.
  • October 30, 2015
    DAN004
    Wanna call it Says Right,Spells Wrong?
  • October 31, 2015
    DaibhidC
    Live Action TV:
    • In Friends, ''TOW The Blind Dates" Joey tells Monica and Chandler they need to be more responsible babysitters: "You can't have S-E-X when you're looking after a B-A-B-I-E!"
  • November 1, 2015
    StarSword
    Western Animation:
  • November 1, 2015
    DAN004
    I wonder if this can work for Japanese language.
  • November 1, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    ^ Not really. It's possible to misspell things in Japanese by using the wrong katakana or hiragana, or mess them up in other ways by miswriting or misreading kanji, but Japanese katakana and hiragana are phonetic to the point it's kind of impossible to misspell a word if you know the correct pronunciation of it. Messing up kanji is much more common, but usually the joke is that characters just avoid using them if they are dumb, or misread them entirely (kanji often have multiple different pronunciations depending on context) and a smarter character has to correct them. But it's actually not uncommon that this comes up when Japanese people are trying to spell in English and another character corrects them.

    In such cases, along with using it to establish that the one character is stupid (if it's an easy word), or a try-hard wannabe-know-it-all (if it's something more difficult) it simultaneously establishes the other character as smart (because they knew the correct way to spell the word, which is considered a difficult subject matter because it's a foreign language to them).
  • August 17, 2016
    DAN004
    Buml
  • August 17, 2016
    alnair20aug93
    Bump B-A-U-M-P-E
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