By Ben Walker
Have you ever started to type something into a Google search to see recommended results appear in a drop-down box? Does Massachusetts have an ‘E’ or an ‘I’ after the ‘C’? How many times does ‘S’ appear in Mississippi?
While the internet is ready to answer any question you pose, people in the US have been using Google to not only help them spell just any words, but also the very states they live in. Here’s a breakdown of the most misspelled state names by their own residents.
Transcriptionoutsourcing.net reviewed the top ‘how to spell’ states in September 2021. We discovered that each state has its own spelling struggles and created a new map of the US replacing all the states with their most common misspelling.
Some of the mistakes are pretty self-explanatory, like ‘Montanna’ having two N’s instead of 1, or ‘Kansis’ having an I instead of an A. But others are embarrassingly incorrect… ‘Ieowar’ instead of Iowa? Really?
Top 10 Typoed States
We analyzed Google trends by seeing how many users searched for ‘How to spell…’ followed by all 51 states. In previous years, people in Massachusetts and Wisconsin struggled to spell their own state. Not this year though.
This year, Hawaii is the state least confident at spelling itself.
The most common misspellings of the state include Hawaia, Hawaai and Hawiie. The spelling of the state was changed in 1959 due to the Statehood Act and is now written without an ‘okina between the two “i”. The official name of the state is Hawaii, while the name of the island is Hawai’i. Whoever is spelling it as ‘Hawiie’, though, needs a serious spelling lesson.
‘How to spell Hawaii’ searched a huge 1,300+ times in the last month alone, and 936,000 searches for just the word ‘Hawaii’. Whether this is as a result of people deciding to travel to the exotic island more now UK/EU-US travel is permitted, or people just don’t know how to spell Hawaii, is not clear.
Second place goes to Pennsylvania. A seemingly more complicated state to spell than Hawaii, Pennsylvania’s top 3 miss spells were; Pensylvania, Pensilvani and Pencilvania. ‘How to spell Pennsylvania’ being searched around 800 times in one month alone.
Fun fact: Pennsylvania is actually spelt wrong on the constitution. Where the signers affixed their names, Pennsylvania is spelled ‘Pensylvania’ with only one N. However back then, it was commonly spelled that way – it’s even spelled that way on the Liberty Bell. It is spelled correctly with two N’s in other areas of the document though
Probably the most famous state for typos, in third place is the state of Mississippi. ‘How to spell Mississippi’ had roughly 350 searches in one month. It is an easy word to spell when you learn how many S’s and I’s there are supposed to be. However the most common typos still are, Mississipi, Misisippi and Missidsippi. Some of these may look correct, but Mississippi in fact has four I’s, four S’s, two P’s and one M.
People have created several ways to remember the spelling, such as kindergarten songs and rhymes. It’s famously seen in the 1996 film Matilda, where Mrs. Honey taught her students the spelling by using a little story about a bunch of married ladies that spelled Mississippi: “Mrs M, Mrs I, Mrs S S I, Mrs S S I, Mrs P P I, Mississippi”.
Let’s acknowledge that Massachusetts is a hard word to spell no matter where you are. A state that was ranked as the smartest in the whole country, yet they have come in fourth place. ‘How to spell Massachusetts’ was searched about 250 times and the key typos included Massechussets, Massachuseets and Massachuestees.
Massachusetts is derived from the language of the Algonquian nation. It translates as “at or about the great hill” – referring to the Blue Hills southwest of Boston.
‘How to spell Tennessee’ comes just behind Massachusetts with just under 250 searches. It’s similar to the two above where people get confused on the amount of N’s S’s and E’s. The most common ways the state is misspelled is ‘Tenesse’, ‘Tenneessee’ or even introducing a whole new letter with ‘Tennisee’.
It’s been said that people refer to the Sammy Kershaw song Tennessee Girl to memorise the spelling, of which the lyrics go “I love that T E, double N, E double S double E G I are L”.
Surprisingly, the state of Georgia comes in at number 6. Perhaps it’s the fact that it has 4 vowels in its name that users tend to get them jumbled up as the misspellings are ‘Goriga’, ‘Georger’ and ‘Gerigia’.
We found just over 200 searches for how to spell Georgia.
Florida is another surprising addition to the top 10. We also found around 150 searches of people trying to figure out the correct way to spell the state.
We suggest thinking of the chart-topping rapper Flo Rida to remember the right spelling.
It’s more reasonable to understand that people get confused about the spelling of Oklahoma. There were just over It’s more reasonable to understand that people get confused about the spelling of Oklahoma. There were just over 150 searches for its spelling in September with it being most commonly misspelt as ‘Oklhoma’, ‘Oklamhoma’ and even ‘Oklahoman’.
Diet Coke anyone? The top misspelling for this state is ‘Minnisoda’, due to many Americans’ pronunciation of T sounding like a D to other international folk. The misspelling is followed by people typing it as ‘Minnessotta’ and ‘Minnesotta’.
They come ninth place on our list with 100 searches for this spelling.
Five letters and two syllables doesn’t stop googlers being spurious of Texas’ spelling – we also found 100 searches for ‘how to spell Texas’ across one month.
The most common mistake people make is replacing the A or U with an I to make ‘Texis’ or ‘Texus’. This could have to do with the pronunciation of the state in a variety of American accent’s sounding like a slightly different vowel. However, ‘Texxess’ is also thrown into the mix, which sounds more like a different vocabulary word than a state.
Top 25 State Typos
Here’s a table of the top 25 states that are misspelled. Did your state make the league?
At Transcription Outsourcing we are into words, grammar, and all things English language because of the nature of our work. Working within the vast legal system transcribing everything from depositions to bail hearings we understand the need to be accurate. So we thought long and hard about how to have a little fun with some of the things we’ve seen misspelled over the years and found that people who live in Hawaii aren’t all that sure how to spell Hawaii.
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The kids in Matilda are spelling the word difficulty, not Mississippi.
Mrs. D, Mrs. I, Mrs. FFI, Mrs. C, Mrs. U, Mrs. LTY.