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Spelling for Emphasis

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''You're fired! F-I-R-E-D! Fired!"
Skinner, Ratatouille

Imagine this: you're talking to someone and there's one or two particular words you want to emphasize. Normally, one emphasizes something by speaking louder, but to be this emphatic using that method, you'd be shouting and you don't want to shout. What do you do? Well, according to this trope, you spell it out.

This is Truth in Television and may be because spelling puts the emphasis on every letter and is thus more emphatic. Sometimes, saying the word may precede and/or follow the spelling, (e.g. "It's called logic, Alice: L-O-G-I-C!"). If the speller is feeling particularly proud of what they're emphasizing, they might add "to the" between each letter or do other semi-creative things with their spelling.


May be part of a Spelling Song or overlap with Misspelling Out Loud (the latter especially if the character doing the spelling is a bit dumb). Compare This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!, Punctuated! For! Emphasis! (with which this might overlap) and Two Words: Added Emphasis for other forms of emphasis. Contrast Censorship by Spelling, which is spelling to make a word or phrase have less impact.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Fan Works 
  • In The X-Files fanfiction Out of the Cold, Fox Mulder has pneumonia but investigates anyway. His friend Reg says, "I want you to R-E-S-T! Got that?"
  • In an unofficial how-to for writing fanfiction about The Lord of the Rings called Lord of the Rings Fanfiction Guide, it says that if you're writing a story about being transported to the Lord of the Rings universe, "Remember that YOU came from E-A-R-T-H!"
  • In Different plans Max comes home with horrible grades after his second year at Hogwarts.
  • Proud:
    Brian: You spend here like 24/7 kid, don't you have anyone to do at home or something?
    Harry: He,he... Well, I don't get out a lot, you see. A lot of work and I'm kind of slow in it...
    Brian: Bullshit kid!
    Harry: Beg your pardon sir?
    Brian: You heard me. B –U- L- L- S- H- I –T... I don't know what you're running away from kid, but bottling up in work isn't gonna solve it.
  • Could You Love Me?:
    Remus: Harry... It's fine, Harry.
    Harry: No, it is not. I am pregnant. P-R-E-G-N-A-N-T!

    Films — Animation 
  • In The LEGO Movie, Emmet says "Oh my G-O-S-H".
  • In Pinocchio, Honest John tries to spell Pinocchio's name. "Pinocchio! P-I-N... oh, we are wasting precious time!"
  • In Ratatouille, when Skinner thinks he sees his janitor Linguini cooking, he fires him by saying, "You're fired. F-I-R-E-D! Fired!".
  • Toy Story features this exchange:
    Woody: Look, we're all very impressed with Andy's new toy.
    Buzz Lightyear: Toy?
    Woody: T-O-Y, toy!
  • In Up, Russell overhears Carl Fredricksen talking to his dead wife Ellie. Russell thinks that Ellie is some sort of imaginary friend and pretends to talk to her. He then says, "She said for you to let me [keep the large bird I found]." Mr. Fredricksen then says to Ellie, "But I told him no!", then to Russell, "I told you no! N-O!".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Beauty and the Beast (2017), LeFou tries to spell out Gaston's name in the titular song but gives up halfway through:
    LeFou: 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...
  • Done in the Mary Pickford adaptation of Daddy-Long-Legs: "P-R-U-N-E spells prune!"
  • Earth Girls Are Easy: Attempted by Julie Brown in the satirical song "Cause I'm A Blonde". She spells it b-l-o-n-d twice before a third try goes "b-l-...I don't know." She can't spell VW, but she's got a Porsche.
  • In It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, Kermit wishes he was never born and shouts, "I wish I'd never been B-O-R-N, born!".


    Live-Action TV 
  • The Benny Hill Show: In one sketch, Benny and Jackie Wright are having an argument in front of an attractive woman. This annoys the woman so much that calls them "a pair of twits: T-W-I-T-S, twits", poking Benny in the chest in time with each letter. Benny smiles and calls her "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". But before he gets the chance to spell the word (and poke her in the chest) Jackie spells it without doing any poking.
  • Keeping Up Appearances:
    Hyacinth: Put your coat on, Richard, brush your hair, polish your shoes, we're going into town.
    Richard: Town?
    Hyacinth: T-O-W-N, dear. Town. It's that large thing with all the shops.
  • Ned Beatty played Szysznyk, a former Marine put in charge of an inner city youth center. His usual self-introduction included the spelling: "Name's Szysznyk. Spell it like it sounds, S-Z-Y-S-Z-N-Y-K." Understandable in his case.

  • Aretha Franklin did this in her cover of "Respect".
    R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Jeff Jarrett is always famous of using this spelling when he always introduces himself during his WWF run in the mid-90's: "J-E-Double F J-A-Double-R-E-Double-T".

    Puppet Shows 
  • One cartoon skit on Sesame Street has a man trying to get his talking dog to say, "Yes", but he refuses to. At one point, the dog says, "N-O. No!"

  • In Hamilton, Hamilton's friends do this for him as part of his "I Am Great!" Song:
    Hamilton: But damn, it's getting dark, so let me spell out the name! I am the—
    Laurens, Mulligan, and Lafayette:: A-L-E-X-A-N-D / E-R, we are, meant to be!
  • How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying: J. Pierrepont Finch has a habit of spelling out his last name when introducing himself.
  • Tales Of Hamelin has a number where the villagers sing about wanting the rats dead, which ends on them saying, "D-E-A-D, dead!"

    Video Games 
  • In Persona 5, Ryuji gushes about how excited he is to hire a sketchy French maid and literally spells it out to Joker.
    Ryuji: Maids! M-A-I-D-S! That will do anything! For! You!! So? ...So!?
  • Robin Newman of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies uses this as a Verbal Tic once she's outed as a girl.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, Edgar stresses to Locke that Terra's special abilities are M-A-G-I-C when Locke doesn't seem to realize.

     Web Animation 

    Web Original 
  • In Do Not Push The Big Red Button, the text says, "What if I told you the world would explode if you pressed the button again?". If the person continues to press the button, the text will claim that the world has exploded and the person is now dead and in the afterlife. At one point, it says, "You're dead. D-E-D."
  • An example on This Very Wiki: on Video Game Difficulty Tropes, the little synopsis for Final Death reads, "Games where, when a character dies, that character is D-E-D Dead and is just plain not coming back."

    Web Videos 

     Western Animation 
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy had an episode where Eddy keeps trying to spell "respect" for emphasis but keeps spelling it wrong.
    Eddy: R-E-S-P-E-E-K. Respect, Double D!
  • In a Felix the Cat episode, some townspeople cheer Felix on by chanting, "Felix! Felix! F-E-L-I-X! Yay, Felix!".
  • The Merrie Melodies cartoon "Muzzle Tough" has Sylvester the cat disguise himself as a canine vamp to lure away the Angry Guard Dog. As his luck would have it, the city dog catcher snags Sylvester, and throws him in the back of his truck. There, Sylvester demands release, taking off his disguise and shouting: "I'm not a dog; I'm a cat. K-A-T, cat!" When Sylvester hears the nine actual dogs growling behind him, he realizes he's in for a world of hurt.
  • Used several times in Phineas and Ferb, especially by Candace:
    • In "Jerk de Soleil", Candace sings a song about how her brothers are "evil" due to the mischief they get up to and says, "Let me spell it out for you, mom: E-V-I-L B-O-Y-S!".
    • In "Rollercoaster: The Musical", her song spells it out: "You're G-O-I-N-G D-O-W-N!"
    • In "I Scream, You Scream", she duets with Vanessa about how the boys (and Vanessa's father) are "B-U-S-T-E-D".
  • The Simpsons: In "Homer Goes to College", after Homer gets admitted to college, he tries to brag about his smarts this way but messes up the spelling. The misspelling was actually a flub on the behalf of the voice actor that was thrown in.
    Homer: I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean S-M-A-R-T!
  • The first Tom and Jerry cartoon is "Puss Gets the Boot", in which the homeowner, Mammy Two-Shoes, cautions her housecat Tom that she will tolerate no further destruction of her property in pursuit of that pesky mouse, Jerry. A later redub after Society Marches On has Mammy spell the word correctly.
    Mammy: One more breakin', and it's O-W-T, out you go!


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