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Does the word "irregardless" send a shiver down your spine? Does poor grammar *literally* drive you up a wall? You'll want to watch this episode of The List Show, all about notables English language mistakes.

Erin (@erincmccarthy) dives into everyday errors and once-in-a-lifetime mistakes, from a copy of the Bible that proved costly for two printers to tricky homophones that pique your interest.

In case you forgot, The List Show is a trivia-tastic, fact-filled show for curious people. Subscribe here for new videos every week: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpZ5qUqpW4hW4zdfuBxMSJA?sub_confirmation=1

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Did you know that dord is a synonym for density?

Probably not, because it isn’t. Dord is  a ghost word—a non-existent word that slipped into the dictionary.

In the case of  dord, it stayed there for about 13 years. This particular flub occurred in the early 1930s,  after an editor typed an entry that read D or d, meaning that density can be abbreviated with  an uppercase D or a lowercase d. During the editorial process, all dictionary entries were  supposed to have a space between each letter so any pronunciation marks could be added  later.

The next editor simply thought a space was missing between o and r, and the word  dord ended up in the 1934 second edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary. In 1939, a Merriam-Webster editor spotted dord and scrawled “A ghost word!” in red on  a note card asking for its removal. Somehow, it managed to stay in the dictionary for  another eight years.

When a different editor submitted yet another note card pointing out  the error in 1947, dord was finally deleted. Hi, I’m Erin McCarthy, editor-in-chief of  MentalFloss.com, and welcome to The List Show from my living room. From memorable misprints  like dord to phrases you might be mispronouncing, this episode is all about English  language mistakes.

Let’s get started. Dord’s 13 years in print is nothing compared to  the three centuries that abacot spent haunting reference materials. It all started in the late  16th century when Abraham Fleming was editing Raphael Holinshed’s chronicles of British history.

At one point, Holinshed mentions King Henry’s   “highe cappe of estate, called Abococke, garnished  with two riche crownes.” For some reason, Fleming changed abococke to abacot in his 1587  version of Holinshed’s Chronicles, and the ghost word landed in Henry Spelman’s Glossarium in 1664. For the next 200 years, dictionaries listed abacot as a double-crowned cap of state worn by English  kings, just like Holinshed had described it. It wasn’t until the 1880s that the erroneous  origins of abacot were finally exposed.

Oxford English Dictionary editor James Murray traced  abacot back through a comedy of misspellings that started with bycoket, an actual word for  a peaked cap. From there, it became bycocket, then bococket, and then someone accidentally  printed a bococket as one word: abococket. Holinshed dropped the t, and Fleming  added his own inexplicable flair.

To Murray, the absurdity of the situation  wasn’t just about abacot being a fake word. It was also laughable that centuries’ worth  of scholars thought it was specifically used to describe dual-crowned headgear fit  only for kings. The real term, bycoket, describes something less grandiose—it’s the type  of hat Robin Hood is often portrayed as wearing.

Murray said, quote, “The sense which  the dictionaries give to abacot … is as ludicrously wide of the mark as the form itself.” Holinshed’s Chronicles were well-known during the Renaissance era—Shakespeare used them as a source  for some of his plays. One of them is Cymbeline, about an ancient British king and his daughter,  Imogen. But the name Imogen was uncommon   (potentially even bordering on nonexistent) at  the time; and while it’s definitely believable that the master wordsmith might have made it up,  some scholars think he originally wrote Innogen.

For one, the name Innogen was mentioned  in another part of Holinshed’s Chronicles, and we know Shakespeare was well-acquainted with  the text. Cymbeline wouldn’t even have been the first time the Bard used the name: In a 1600  quarto of Much Ado About Nothing, Innogen is mentioned as Leonato’s wife. In Cymbeline, Imogen  marries a character named Posthumus Leonatus.

Pretty compelling evidence so far, right? In 1611, an astrologer named Simon Forman saw the earliest-known performance of Cymbeline  and wrote about it in his diary. By his account, the princess was named Innogen, not Imogen.

But  when the whole play was first published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death, the editors  listed the character as Imogen. Could the two Ns have just looked like an M? Or was Forman  mistaken and Shakespeare deliberately chose a rare variant of the name for his character?

Cut to 400 years later, and Imogen’s still a common moniker in the U. K.— it even  topped Nameberry.com’s list of most popular baby names for a brief time in 2014. Sadly, I can’t say the same for Innogen.

Of course, verbal mix-ups aren’t specific to  character names in Shakespearean plays—they slip into our language often, and it can sometimes  seem like the wrong word or phrase makes just as much sense as the right one does. This is called  an eggcorn, a term that linguist Geoffrey Pullum coined in in response to a story of a woman who  thought acorns were called eggcorns. You can kind of see how eggcorn seemed like a suitable  description for a small, egg-shaped nut.

Eggcorns are about as bountiful in the  English language as acorns are in autumn. Take, for example, free rein and free reign. The  correct version is R-E-I-N.

As in: you’re a horse, and your rider is holding the reins so loosely  that you can do whatever you want. In fact, horseback-riders used it when talking about  actual horses and reins. That said, R-E-I-G-N seems logical, too.

If you’re a monarch who reigns  over a whole kingdom, you have at least as much autonomy as your average independent equine. Right now, we know that free R-E-I-N is technically the correct phrase and free  R-E-I-G-N is the eggcorn. But it’s possible that in another hundred years or so, people  will have lost track of which is which, and they’ll be equally acceptable.

But don’t  worry—we’ve already reached that point with plenty of other everyday expressions, and for  all intensive purposes, civilization marches on. Just making sure you were paying attention. Say you finally make dinner reservations at a hip restaurant that your friends  have been raving about for months.

When you get there, the air-conditioning is  broken, you’re seated next to a raucous crowd, and your fried calamari is soggy and cold. Not  only have you experienced damp squid, but also a damp squib—something highly anticipated that  ends up being a total letdown. A squib is a type of firework, so a damp squib is one that’s too wet  to produce the delightful display you expected.

But squib is an obsolete word these  days, and people often say “damp squid” by mistake. And though damp squid doesn’t make  quite as much sense as the original expression, it does evoke a certain image of a sad, droopy  invertebrate floating around in cloudy waters. I know what you might be thinking: Aren’t squids  always damp?

Isn’t damp squid redundant? And the answer is yes. This could explain why it  hasn’t yet earned a spot in the dictionary.

But that’s not to say that it won’t—dictionaries  have their fair share of redundant terms. Let’s talk about irregardless. Since time  immemorial (or at least as long as Twitter has existed), pedants have taken pleasure in  pointing out that irregardless is a redundant form of the word regardless.

The suffix less  already means without, so adding the prefix ir, which means basically the same thing, creates  a lexical abomination that essentially means without without regard. Defining irregardless as  not without regard would make a bit more sense, but that’s not how people use it. They  just use it as a synonym for regardless.

If irregardless is your own personal  form of fingernails on a chalkboard, I’m sorry to inform you that it’s in most major  dictionaries—and it’s been there for some time. Merriam-Webster added the word to its unabridged  edition way back in 1934, and its current editors recently published a blog post justifying its  longstanding inclusion. They wrote, quote:   “The fact that it is unnecessary, as there is  already a word in English with the same meaning   (regardless) is not terribly important; it  is not a dictionary's job to assess whether a word is necessary before defining it.

The  fact that the word is generally viewed as nonstandard, or as illustrative of poor  education, is likewise not important; dictionaries define the breadth of the language,  and not simply the elegant parts at the top.” Merriam-Webster is, in some ways, laying  out a descriptivist understanding of what a dictionary is meant to do: to describe how  language is actually used. Other sources would argue for a prescriptivist understanding  of language and usage, where an authority prescribes how words ought to be used. Irregardless (it physically hurt me to say that), I think you’re ready to learn that unthaw has  an entry in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, too.

Its definition is a single word: thaw. Since we’re on the subject of words that seem like opposites but mean the same thing, let’s  toss a phrase into the mix. When you’re completely unbothered by something, do you say “I couldn’t  care less” or “I could care less?” According to Merriam-Webster, the version with not has been  around at least since the mid-19th century, whereas the version without not gained ground in  the 1950s—perhaps even later.

I couldn’t care less isn’t just older—it also seems to makes more  sense, when you think about it. If you couldn’t care less about something, you don’t care about  it at all. If you could care less about something, you’re basically admitting that you  care about it, at least a little.

That said, I could care less has become such  a common colloquialism that Merriam-Webster deems both phrases correct. Does that  bother you, or could you care less? Annoying your most fastidious friends is probably  the only consequence that will come from dropping the negative adverb from I couldn’t care less.

For two 17th-century royal printers in Britain, omitting one measly not cost them a lot more. In 1631, Robert Barker and Martin Lucas printed 1000 copies of the King James Bible with the  commandment “Thou shalt commit adultery.” When King Charles I found out a year later, he  furiously ordered officials to track down the bibles and burn every last one. They were  also fined 300 pounds, a penalty that was later converted into a directive to buy and print Greek  works as a sort of service-based retribution.

That one immoral directive wasn’t the only error  in the book. In the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy, the 24th verse is supposed to mention God’s  glory and greatness. But court records say there was another mistake, rendering the  passage “And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his great-asse.”  Though Biblical scholars caution that the apparent snafu would likely have been understood as  a reference to a donkey and not buttocks, the mistake was so egregious that some scholars  have theorized that a fellow printer actually sabotaged the book to discredit Barker and usurp  his position.

We might never know the truth. According to historian Gordon Campbell  the great asse misprint isn’t known to have survived beyond a couple potential  pages that been blotted out with ink. You can still see the omitted ‘not’ in around  a dozen Bibles, though, which escaped the book-burning blaze and are housed in museums  and private collections around the world.

While Barker and Lucas probably would have kept  their jobs had they just been a little more meticulous during the printing process, you can  hardly blame them for making a couple mistakes. Even the most detail-oriented grammar enthusiasts  sometimes get things wrong, especially when it comes to homophones—or words that sound the same,  but have different spellings and/or definitions. If you’re referring to the highest point of a  mountain or of anything else, that’s P-E-A-K.

If you’re talking about a quick glance, that’s  P-E-E-K. Here’s a helpful way to remember that: Eyes has two e’s, and so does peek. If you’re  writing sneak peek, don’t let sneak’s E-A sneak over into the second word.

And if  this distinction piqued your interest, remember- that’s p-i-q-u-e-d. That pique comes  from a French word literally meaning “to prick.” Flak is another tough one. For getting or giving  criticism, that’s F-L-A-K.

Since quack, snack, blackjack, and a ton of other words end in  A-C-K, people tend to spell flak that way, too. But it’s actually a truncated version  of the German word fliegerabwehrkanone, which is a type of gun used to target aircraft. That said, F-L-A-C-K in this context has become so common that Merriam-Webster  lists it as a “less common spelling,” so you’re free to use it if you want.

You just might catch some flak for it. If you catch flak for calling your strong suit  a “fort” instead of a “four-tay,” however, go ahead and tell your critics they’re wrong. F-O-R-T-E in this context is derived from F-O-R-T, the French word for strong, which we then, for  some reason, decided to spell as if we were using the feminine form of the French word.

The  masculine F-O-R-T would be pronounced more like   “for,” but the feminine F-O-R-T-E would be more  like fort, which is why it’s considered a correct pronunciation in English, alongside four-tay (a  pronunciation, by the way, which, has its own detractors in this context). As Merriam-Webster’s  online usage guide advises, “ … take your choice, knowing that someone somewhere will  dislike whichever variant you choose.” Un-fort-unately, so many people believe “fort”  should be “four-tay” that you might be better off choosing a different word altogether. And by  the way, F-O-R-T-E when used to describe a piece of music comes from the Italian word for loud, and  you should definitely pronounce that “four-tay.” Possibly the most heated pronunciation debate  in the English language concerns a pesky little file format called a “GIF.” Or “JIF.” Since  it stands for Graphics Interchange Format, it seems like you’d pronounce the G just like it  is in “graphics.” So, “GIF.” But ever since Steve Wilhite invented it in 1987, he’s maintained  that it’s supposed to be “JIF.” In 2013, he told The New York Times, quote, “The Oxford  English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations.

They are wrong. It is a soft G, pronounced “jif.”  End of story.” But if this video has taught you anything, it’s probably that there never really  is an “end of story” when it comes to language. In 2015, Université de Montréal linguistics  professor Michael Dow mined The English Lexicon Project for all the words containing gi.

Of those  105 words, nearly twice as many were pronounced with a soft g—think gin and magic—than a hard  g, as in gift. The gi words said with hard g’s, however, were used more than twice as often as  the soft g ones. So, beyond Wilhite’s own wishes, there’s not really a linguistic precedent to tell  us whether “GIF” or “JIF” should be used.

And even if there were, people wouldn’t necessarily follow  it. So you can jo with your jut on this one. Our next episode is all about  projects that were never finished.

If you know a cool movie, building, or  other project that was never completed, drop it in the comments for a chance to  be featured in that episode. Remember to subscribe and hit the little bell to find out  when we’re posting new videos. We’ll see you soon!