Misspelling Out Loud

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.


  • 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?

  • In Rally Round the Flag, Boys!, Comfort Goodpasture, after meeting Opie, responds to one of Grady's come-ons: "No. N-O-E. No."
  • In Charlotte's Web, the goose's habit of repeating herself results in spelling "Terrific" as "Teerrrriiffiicccc". Charlotte is not amused at the idea of writing out 17 letters in her web.

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!
  • In an episode of the American Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Wayne, Greg, Colin, and Ryan sing a song based on audience member Howard's profession to the tune of the Village People's "YMCA". Wayne misspells Howard's name as H-O-R-W-A-R-D, not realizing it until it was pointed out to him after the song ended - and that was before Laura accidentally caused the music to speed up.
  • Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.: Slater's stand-up comedy routine involves Sgt. Carter's problematic orthography: "M-A-R-E... M-A-R-U... Marines!"

  • 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.

  • From "Young, Dumb, and Ugly" by "Weird Al" Yankovic:
    We got three-day stubble. Our name spells "trouble".
  • Harry Enfield's novelty song Loadsamoney has him try to spell the song's title:
    L-O-D-S of E-M-O-N-E! What's that spell? Loadsamoney, prob'ly.

  • In The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, most of the characters get eliminated for reasonable slip-ups involving doubled or silent letters — and then there's Marcy's rebellion against her parents' oppressively high expectations by spelling "camouflage" with a J and a Z.
  • 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.
    • And a little girl looks at a tube of shaving soap. She spells it correctly, but still answers that it's toothpaste.
  • 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, 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'.
  • The Perils of Penelope Pitstop: In "The Diabolical Department Store Danger", after the Ant Hill Mob drive Chugga-Boom into the store's elevator to rescue Penelope from the top floor, Dum-Dum looks at the lever and says, "D-O-W-N... up."
  • Peanuts: Spelling bee contest. Charlie Brown is one correct word away from taking the top prize. He is given "beagle" (Snoopy's species), which the other kids think he'll have no trouble getting by that very fact. "B-E-A-G-E-L." Cue the collective "AAAAAAUUUUUUUGGGHHHHHHH!!!"