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Misspelling Out Loud

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Good grief. G-o-o-d g-r-e-e-f.

"All I need to know how to spell is 'Kill.' K-Y-Y-Y-L."

Spelling can be easy based on the word, but other times the word can be so long that you can't spell it, or you might not even know the word at all! Now that's not supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: s-u-p-e-r-c-a-l-y-f-r-a-j-i-l-i-s-t-i-c-e-x-p-e-e-a-l-e-i-d-o-s-h-i-o-u-s. I spelled it correctly, right?

Someone has to spell a word out loud, for the sake of clarity, for emphasis, for Censorship by Spelling, or because they're in a Spelling Bee, and they make an elementary spelling mistake or even spell a different word entirely. The reason can range from being illiterate to dyslexic, all the way to being able to read just fine but having never seen the word in written form. If it's the latter, this usually reflects negatively on the character's attentiveness, and if it's either of the former it reflects negatively on the character's intelligence. In the case of spelling bees, though, sometimes the child knows the correct spelling and would not normally spell such a word incorrectly but is intentionally losing the bee because they're sick of their parents putting such immense undue pressure on them at their age.

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.


    open/close all folders 

    C-o-m-i-k B-u-k-k-s 
  • Issue 12 of Shadow Cabinet has Bad Betty spell "paranoid" as "C-A-U-T-I-O-U-S".

    F-a-n-n F-i-k-s-h-o-n 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: One of the aliens in "The Spaceship" not only uses a malapropism when he whispers to his colleague, he also spells out the word "genius" so as not to tip Rhino off regarding how dumb they are — and misspells the word while doing so.
    Cloyd: [whispering] Not in front of the G-E-N-Y-U-S. We’ll make a terrible first compression on our guest of honor!
  • In How the Light Gets In, when Mary acts particularly bratty at bed time:
    Sara: Someone sounds T-I-R-D-E.
    Quentin:...Someone should've stayed in college.
    Sara: Just so everyone is aware, I know several different languages.
    Quentin: Is English one of them?

    F-i-l-m-z — A-n-n-a-m-a-s-h-u-n 
  • The soundtrack version of "Gaston" from Beauty and the Beast features a few extra lines, ending in Lefou stumbling over the spelling of Gaston's name before giving up. This made it into the live-action remake, with some slight changes; see below.
  • In the Upin & Ipin film, Geng: The Adventure Begins, Salleh insists to be called Sally, and attempts to make the correction by spelling his name aloud, to rather "silly" results.
    Salleh/Sally: Hey! What is this? My name is Sally! S-I-L-L-Y. Eh?
  • In Inside Out, when Bing-Bong tries to read the warning above a door:
    D-A-N-G-E-R: Shortcut!

    F-i-l-m-z — L-i-v-A-k-s-h-o-n 
  • 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?
  • Beauty and the Beast (2017): The big finish to "Gaston":
    Lefou: There's just one guy in town who's got it all down,
    And his name's G-A-S…T…
    I believe there's another T…
    It just occurred to me that I'm illiterate and I've never actually had to spell it out loud before…
  • 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!
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou?: Wash does this to explain what had happened to his wife, while his young son is within earshot...
    Wash: Mrs. Hogwallop up and R-U-N-N-O-F-T.
  • 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 DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, White Goodman ends up doing that to his own name.
    White Goodman: I'm White. I'm White. W-H-I-T... [gets an odd expectant look from Kate] E [with a *duh* expression].
  • In Love and Death, Boris realizes how to avoid being sentenced to death:
    Boris: The correct answer is flee. F-L-E-A. Flee.

  • 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.
  • Tom Cullen in Stephen King's The Stand will often say "M-O-O-N, that spells... (word that isn't 'moon')", although one time he did spell the actual Moon that way when he saw the full Moon, which was the hypnotically-suggested visual cue for him to come back home after infiltrating Flagg's domain.
  • In the second Percy Jackson book, Annabeth utterly fails to spell "Cyclops". Percy notes that she's incredibly smart, but that doesn't change the fact that she's dyslexic.
  • Ratburger has Sheila saying to her stepdaughter Zoe, "You Are Grounded!! You hear me? G-R-O-N-D-E-D!". When Zoe points out that "grounded" is meant to have a "U", Sheila just denies it.
  • In Fungus the Bogeyman, one background character spells "bogey" as "B-O-G-I-E".
  • In The Penultimate Peril from A Series of Unfortunate Events, Count Olaf is on trial and for his defense uses the letters in the word 'Innocent' to describe himself. Anyone with a passing familiarity with his ability to spell won't be surprised he only gets as far as the third letter before getting one wrong.
  • Roys Bedoys: In "Respect People's Opinions, Roys Bedoys!", Roys says, "You're wrong. R-O-N-G, wrong!"
  • In Leo Rosten's The Return of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N Mr. Kaplan spells "justice" as "J-O-S-T-I-S".

    L-i-v A-k-c-h-o-n 
  • 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!"
  • I Love Lucy: Ricky once spelled 'quit' as K-W-I-T.
  • 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.
  • Good Omens: In "The Ball," when Shax is besieging Aziraphale's bookshop, she says that unless they send out Gabriel, they're toast. T-O-S-T....E. Toast! This is a Running Gag in the season that demons are bad spellers.
  • 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!"
  • Kenan & Kel: In one episode, Kenan does this to Marc when he accuses the latter of "stealing" his watch.
    Kenan: Now what you got to say, huh? How are you gonna spill your way out of this one, Mr. Thief? Mr. T-H-E-A-F-E?
  • Powerless (2017): Van shows Emily the many trophies he's won as a child, starting with the Spelling Bee trophy he won for spelling "failure" as F-A-L-U-R-E. It's then that he starts realizing that his parents have let him win all his life.
  • Black Books: Manny stumbles over his spelling after Bernard starts a wager with him over who can sell the most books.
    Manny: Ha! You're toast! T-O-E-A-R-S-T ...toearst.
  • Saturday Night Live: Eddie Murphy's bit with the line "C-I-L-L my landlord!"
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "The Mighty Casey", the Hoboken Zephyrs manager Mouth McGarry tells the robot pitcher Casey's creator Dr. Stillman never to say the word "R-O-B-B-O-T-T" as he doesn't want anyone else to find out.
  • Wayne and Shuster: In one Western sketch a deputy repeatedly says "He's dead, Sheriff! D-A-Y-E-D dead," to which the sheriff snaps that he knows the spelling.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway?: In one game of "Song Styles" on the American version, Wayne Brady sang to an audience member named Howard in the style of the Village People song "YMCA"). However, he ended up misspelling Howard's name as "H-O-R-W-A-R-D". That threw everyone off enough that keyboardist Laura Hall accidentally increased the song's tempo, causing an increasingly frantic Wayne to desperately try to bring the song back on the rails. Afterwards, Wayne said "It's hard to spell at 210 beats per minute!".

  • 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.
  • Fergie's song "Fergalicious" spells "tasty" as "tastey". This isn't an obvious misspelling, so it was probably used by accident or to fit the lyrics. T to the A to the S-T-E-Y, girl, you tasty.

    P-u-p-e-t S-h-o-z 

     S-t-a-n-d U-p C-o-m-e-d-e-e 
  • Jeff Dunham has to correct one of his puppets, Melvin the Superhero, who misspells "whore" as "h-o-r-e".
    Jeff: That's "w-h-o-r-e".
    Melvin: What's a "w-hore"? Is that like a Klingon?

  • 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."
  • "It Takes a Woman" from Hello, Dolly!:
    Three cheers for femininity
    Rah rah rah...rah rah rah
    F. E. M. - I. T. Y
  • When Beetlejuice introduces himself to the newly-dead Maitlands, he attempts to rap the spelling of his name and the first attempt ends like this: "I'm the B to the double-E, J-F-Q, and jeezus, I can't spell!" He gets a second try a few lines later and spells it like in the title, which may or may not be correct.

     V-i-d-e-o- G-a-m-e-z 

     W-e-b C-o-m-i-k-z 

     W-e-b O-r-i-j-i-n-a-l 

     W-e-s-t-u-r-n A-n-n-a-m-a-s-h-u-n 
  • Codename: Kids Next Door's Numbuh Four spells words wrong. One such example of this is when trying to convey to Numbuh Three that Numbuh One left the team, he spells "gone" as "J-A-W-N".
  • One Arthur episode revolves around a school Spelling Bee, with multiple examples.
    • Prunella says she won last year with the word 'endurance'.
      Prunella: Can you spell 'endurance', Arthur?
      Arthur: I-N-D... (Francine busts out laughing)
      Prunella: Forget it.
    • The Brain is knocked out in the first round of the spelling bee when he spells 'fear' F-E-R-E. (It's strongly implied he spent more time teaching himself programming than studying for the spelling bee. In the book it just said he blurted it out "a little too quickly", implying overconfidence was to blame.)
  • The Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Too Smart for his own Ed" has Jimmy training Rolf for the spelling bee 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."
    • "I think I'm in L-U-V, love."
  • 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".
  • In the first episode of King of the Hill, Dale tries to bring up the line that "Ford" stands for "fix or repair daily", but screws up and uses a similar line for a different brand.
    Dale: You know what the problem is? It's a Ford. You know what Ford stands for? Fix It Again Tony.
    Hank: (annoyed) Dale, that's a Fiat.
  • 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.
    • Played with in Duck! Rabbit! Duck!: Elmer thinks he needs a license to hunt a "fricasseeing rabbit", so Daffy writes him one, and asks Bugs how to spell it. Bugs then spells out "fricasseeing duck", which Daffy fails to notice even as he writes it and delivers it to Elmer.
    • The Barnyard Dog does this on purpose as a jab at Foghorn Leghorn in "Weasel While You Work" when Foghorn sends a weasel to try and eat him.
      Barnyard Dog: You stupid, little idiot! I'm a dog! D-O-G! Dog! What you want is a chicken! R-A-T! Chicken!
    • In an episode of The Looney Tunes Show, Porky invites Bugs to participate for a bachelor auction to promote literacy. At first, Daffy's disgusted because he thinks "literacy" is related to littering. After Bugs explains that it's actually the ability to read and write, Daffy changes his mind.
      Daffy: Then I'm in. O-N, in.
    • In "Muzzle Tough", after Sylvester gets picked up by the dogcatcher due to his realistic dog disguise, he takes it off and protests that he's not a dog, but a cat — K-A-T, cat.
    • The giant in "Jack Wabbit and the Beanstalk" to Bugs:
      You think you're C-A-T smart!
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh:
    Tigger: Name's Tigger. Tee-aye-double-guh-ur. That spells Tigger.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: In the episode "From Here to Maternity", when Filburt is about to yell, Heffer whispers, "Not in front of the G-U-R-L," to which Filb replies, "It's a B-O-Y, you wig-wearin' rhesus monkey!!!"
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Krusty Gets Busted":
      Homer: Earth to Marge, I was there. The clown is G-I-L-L-T-Y.
    • In "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 
    • Inverted in "Grade School Confidential", as Maude Flanders pulls Censorship by Spelling correctly and Krusty mishears her.
      Maude Flanders: We're talking about S-E-X in front of the C-H-I-L-D-R-E-N.
      Krusty: Sex Cauldron? I thought they closed that place down.
    • "Lard of the Dance" shows Krusty's terrible merchandise includes a "Speak and Say" that he couldn't bother doing the recording right for:
      "S" is for "shiksa": S-H-I... uh... I think there's a "T" in there somewhere.
    • In "Milhouse of Sand and Fog":
      Bart: Does this mean you and Dad might get a D-A-V-U-R-S?
      Marge: Young man, you go work on your spelling or I'll delete all the custom ringtones from your cell phone!
      Bart: [flees the room] NOOOOOOOOOOO!!
    • Bart, retrieving a ball from a rooftop in "Bart After Dark": "S-U-C-C-E-E-S! That's the way you spell success!" just before he falls off.
    • In "Dude, Where's My Ranch", Homer writes the song "Everybody Hates Ned Flanders", which misspells Flanders' name throughout the whole song.
      Lenny and Carl: F-L-A...
      Homer: His name is Ned.
      Lenny and Carl: E-R-S...
      Homer: It's a stupid name, it's worse than Frankenstein or Dr. No.
  • 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 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 he's "B-O-R-D, bored" because nothing interesting ever happens at his job. "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."
  • A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown is one correct word away from taking the top prize in a spelling bee. He is given "beagle" (Snoopy's breed), which the other kids think he'll have no trouble getting by that very fact. Unfortunately, Charlie Brown cracks under pressure and it comes out as "B-E-A-G-E-L." Cue the collective "AAAAAAUUUUUUUGGGHHHHHHH!!!"
  • Intentionally done by Helga in a Spelling bee episode of Hey Arnold!. Feeling the pressure mounted on her by her father to live up to the standards set by her ace sister, Helga throws the final round of the spelling bee when given the word "Qualm", a word her dad had beaten into her earlier in the episode.
    Helga: Q, U, A, L...X?
  • Mr. Know-It-All comes across an elephant's cage thinking it's a tiger inside. He even spells it out: "E-L-E-P-H-A-N-T. Tiger."
  • In The Hair Bear Bunch episode "No Space Like Home," the bears and Mr. Peevly and Botch have escaped a metallic planet in their rocket ship (on which a scientist sent them to start with) back for Earth.
    Botch: Which button do I press now, Mr. Peevly?
    Peevly: Earth button. What else?
    Botch: Oh, yeah. Earth. (sees the "destruct" button and fingers each letter) Let's see now...D-E-S-T-R-U-C-T. "Earth"!
  • Toonsylvania used this gag in the episode "WereGranny", where Igor ordered Phil to make tea for Dr. Vic's grandmother and the dim-witted monster used wolfbane by mistake.
    Phil: Uh, W-O-L-F-B-A-N-E. Duh, tea!
  • Total Drama:
    • Tyler calls Duncan a "jerk with a capital G" for cheating on Courtney in "The Ex-Files".
    • In "Mo' Monkey, Mo' Problems", after spelling "anonymous" as "ugnonymous" on paper, Sugar gets into the confessional to declare the spelling error is irrelevant. She proceeds to declare her elation that "Ella is, G-A-W-N, gone!"
  • The Flintstones: A number of times, Fred spells "out" as "O-W-T!". Also, in "The Happy Household", he spells "food" as "F-O-O-O-O".
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Downplayed in "Brown Evil", when Billy needs salt for his brownies and goes to get some from Grim's trunk... where he finds a shaker of "Evil Powder". Reading it off the label, he gets:
    "E-V-I-L P-O-W-D-E-R. Salt!"
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has the Campfire Song Song, which consists of Spongebob very rapidly spelling "C-A-M-P-F-I-R-E-S-O-N-G song!" Patrick tries but can't keep up, producing a muddled version of this trope. Squidward doesn't even bother.
  • Cartman at one point on South Park attempts Censorship by Spelling while badmouthing Kyle (who is Jewish) within the latter's earshot. Because Cartman is an idiot, he spells it out as "J-O-O".



Junyer Bear mistakes clearly labeled-gunpowder for tobacco, with predictable results.

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