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Spelling for Emphasis

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"Mr. Booze, Mr. Booze... Mr. B-Double O-Z-E
That sure spells 'booze'"
Robin and the 7 Hoods

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!
  • The Year After:
    Sirius: Is that what this is? You think you owe [Snape] for training you?
    Harry: You really don't get it, do you? I love him. L-O-V-E, love him. Not because he's manipulating me into thinking so, not because I feel that I owe him, and not for any other reason besides that he makes me happy. He cares about me, and I care about him. I'm happy when I'm with him.
  • China Cat:
    Harry: My name is Harry, H-A-R-R-Y.
    Snape: What?
    Harry: Not James.
  • Accidental:
    Harry: The only person that really wanted me was Sirius; and he's dead. Got that D-E-A-D dead! He was the only one.
  • The Snorkackic Trio:
    Harry: But you, dear uncle, taught me to loathe bullies. Bullies are scum. When I find bullies at school, I fight them, because they're scum. Seven weeks ago, I fought a bully named Tom, T-O-M, Marvolo, M-A-R-V-O-L-O, Riddle, R-I-D-D-L-E. At first he doesn't sound like much—his mother was an ugly Squib and his father was a Muggle—but he's a troublemaker and a bully, and I intend to stop him for good, as soon as I can.
  • A Match Made in Heaven:
    Draco: That's it, Zabini! I don't know what you thought you were doing when you sent The Prophet Potter's bank statement, but you are D-E-A-D!
  • Don't Ask, Don't Tell:
    Hermione: Oh, will you bloody shut up! I am not going with Harry. I am not going with you. I am going with my boyfriend. Do you understand that? B-o-y-f-r-i-e-n-d. Boyfriend!
  • Susan Bones and the Prisoner of Azkaban:
    Minister Fudge: OUT! BOTH OF YOU! O-U-T! OUT!
  • 6 Lessons From A Dead Man:
    Jamie: Daddy's name is Harry. H-A-R-R-Y. You can call him that. Only you can't call him Daddy, 'cause he's not your Daddy.
  • Under the Surface:
    Harry: What the fuck was that? You're acting like a possessive, jealous idiot! Blaise was only-
    Draco: I know what he was 'only' doing! He's always sniffing around you. I don't like it.
    Harry: He does not 'sniff around me'! We're friends. Why is that so hard for you understand. F-R-I-E-N-D-S. Friends!
  • In In This World For You Draco finds Harry looking a little dazed in the library of the Charles Dickens Museum.
    Draco: We call them books, Potter. That's B-O-O-K-S. I know this'll come as a shock to you, but us normal people, you see, we do this thing called 'read' with them. You know, read. R-E-A-D.
  • In With Pearl and Ruby Glowing, Meilin's name is almost always spelled out when she is referred to.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The LEGO Movie, Emmet says "Oh my G-O-S-H".
  • Happens twice in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh:
    • First in the Honey Tree segment:
      Pooh: Christopher Robin, I think the bees S-U-S-P-E-C-T something.
    • Then in the Tigger Too! segment:
      Tigger: S-s-s-stop that kid! Please! S-T-O-P, STOP! You're rockin' the forest!!
  • 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!".
  • Marriage on the Rocks: Valerie, a frustrated housewife who is tired of being neglected by her Married to the Job husband, tells their lawyer: "I want to divorce Dan! D-I-V-O-R-C-E!".

  • Angela Nicely: In “Puppy Love!”, Angela remembers that she’s been begging her parents for a dog for ages, but “the answer was always the same: N-O spells NO.”
  • In the Dilly The Dinosaur story "Dilly and the Missing Pet", Dilly's parents try to tell him euphemistically that they think Swampy the lizard got hit by a car and died. Dilly doesn't get it, so his big sister Dorla says, "What they mean, Dilly, is that they think Swampy's been run over. You know, hit by a dino-car, flattened, D-E-A-D, dead."
  • In I Wish That I Had Duck Feet, the boy at one point says that when his mother disapproves something, "it's O-U-T, it's out!".
  • In Mitch and Amy, local bully Alan steals the cupcakes Amy and Bernadette made for their Girl Scout meeting and taunts them that he's going to eat the whole box - "H-O-W-L". Since this of course spells howl and not whole, he immediately becomes a laughingstock to everyone who can hear him.
  • The children's book N-O Spells "No" is about a little girl named Katie who says, "no" a lot and her favourite way of saying it is either spelling it out on its own or saying the book's title.
  • A Running Gag in the kids' book Peanuts Emergency:
    • When a strange man asks her to look for his puppy, she says, "I absolutely love puppies. L-O-V-E, love, but I was told never to go anywhere with a stranger."
    • When she's safe, Peanut and her family say, "Now the emergency is O-V-E-R, over!"
  • In Ratburger, Sheila says to her stepdaughter Zoe, "You Are Grounded!, you hear me? G-R-O-N-D-E-D!".
    Zoe: There's a "u" in "grounded".
  • In the Roys Bedoys story "Respect People's Opinions, Roys Bedoys!", Roys says, "You're wrong. R-O-N-G, wrong!"
  • In The Stand, this is practically Tom Cullen's catchphrase. M-O-O-N, that spells catchphrase.
  • Aunt Dimity: Detective:
    Peggy: I've seen brazen hussies in my day, but none to match you. Have you no shame? Parading your fancy man under our noses, as if we were too blind or too stupid to guess what's going on. You may think you're more sophisticated than we are, with your money and your travels, but I can tell you, missy, we're worldly enough to know a T-A-R-T when we see one.
  • Barbara Wersba's The Dream Watcher:
    Hippie: You got any bread on you?
    Albert: How do you mean?
    Hippie: You know, man. Bread. B.R.E.A.D.
  • William Saroyan's The Human Comedy:
    Coach Byfield: You keep your dirty little wop mouth shut!
    Joe: W-O-P?

    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.

  • In "Friends" by Anne-Marie and Marshmello, the narrator spells out to her annoyingly persistent suitor that she wants to remain just friends.
    Haven't I made it obvious?
    Haven't I made it clear?
    Want me to spell it out for you?
  • 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 Control, Fra tries to do this, but his Word Salad vocabulary means it doesn't quite work.
    Fra: Head! A-S-B-E! Head!
  • Twice in Double Homework:
    • Morgan, suspecting that Ms. Walsh is a a little slow on the uptake, spells her name after saying it on the first day of summer school.
    • Dennis does the exact same thing with the protagonist in the latter’s flashback about breaking up with Rachel. The protagonist didn’t remember him after the two had previously been lab partners, and the distracted protagonist told Dennis to just add him as a friend on his GameStation account.
  • In Grand Theft Auto V, semi-corrupt FIB Agent Dave Norton does this to protagonist Michael De Santa after Michael does his first heist in 9 years to pay for pulling businessman Martin Madrazo's house off of a hill.
    Dave: The whole job. Everything about it. Anyone who knows your file... What is WRONG with you?!
    Michael: Davey! Long time no see!
    Dave: And what about Trevor? If that fruitcake realizes, no, no, finds out you're alive, you are D-O-N-E FUCKED!
  • 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 
  • In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, one of the shorts has The Emperor respond to the revelation that the book detailing the Imperium's Code of Law is written on Genuine Human Hide by tossing it out the door while proclaiming "Fucking E-Double-U!". As of Episode 27, it is so far the only time that he has resorted to this trope to convey disgust. (He's more a fan of the Cluster F-Bomb and Big "NO!").
  • Tucker attempts this in Season 3 of Red vs. Blue... keyword being "attempt".
    Tucker: I'm not trying to do anything! 'Cept get L-A-I-D!
    Tucker: ...Laid.
    Grif: Yeah, we can spell. We just thought that was fucking weak.

    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."

    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 has Mammy spell the word correctly.
    Mammy: One more breakin', and it's O-W-T, out you go!


Stop that, kid!

S-T-O-P, stop! Please!

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / SpellingForEmphasis

Media sources: