National Scrabble Day: The words that catch you out the most

Top of the list will definitely have you saying: "Oh, crap"

Today, apparently, is National Scrabble Day. No, I wasn’t aware, either.As we all know, spelling can be a tricky business, especially with there being many different rules in the English language. Even as adults many of us still silently chant ‘I before E except after C.’

Interested in discovering which words people struggle with the most, TheKnowledgeAcademy took to Ahrefs to determine which words had been spelt incorrectly most frequently on Google.


At the top of the list of words people most commonly misspelt word is diarrhoea, which is neither fun to experience or spell, according to the whopping 189,000 failed Google searches. The most popular wrong spelling is “diarrea” with 171,000 Google searches in the last month.

Next up on the list was separate. With 91,000 Google searches for “seperate” (my Achilles heel – always stuck an ‘e’ where the ‘a’ should be) in the last month, it’s clear to see that many people fall victim to replacing the first a with a second e.

It appears that people have more trouble spelling zucchini than they do cooking it! There were a whopping 58,600 Google searches with incorrect spelling last month alone. The three most popular spellings were zuchini (36,000 Google searches), zuccini (21,000) and zucini (1,600).

The only other food word on the list that people can’t seem to get right is potato! The saying ‘some say potato, some say potatoe’ appears to ring true. In fact, The Knowledge Academy found that 48,000 people in the last month searched for “potatoe”.

Definitely placed sixth on the list of words people have misspelt with over 22,800 failed attempts to spell the word right on Google. “Definatly” trumps the list of incorrect spellings (17,000) followed by “definitley” (5,800).

Next on the list is embarrass, with more than 15,300 attempting to spell the word as “embarass” it’s clear to see this word often takes a few attempts to get right.

A popular method taught growing up when spelling ‘conscience’ was “break it down to con and science” yet a whopping 12,500 wrong attempts at spelling it were made. There were three popular variations: “concience” with 7,400 Google searches, followed by “consience” (4,500) and “consciense” (600).

Bureaucracy, which although looks like the hardest word to spell on the list, placed as the 11th most misspelt word on Google. With 3,900 wrong attempts, The Knowledge Academy can reveal the most popular wrongly spelt variations are “bureacracy” (3,900 Google searches), bureuacracy (50 Google searches), and buraecracy (20 Google searches).

With more than 24,000 searches on average every month for “how to spell” it’s clear to see that it’s not a strong point for everyone.


1. Using mutliple articles online, The Knowledge Academy gathered a list of words commonly misspelt.

2. Using Ahrefs all spelling variations of each word and their monthly search volumes were searched to see which words, were misspelt most commonly. 

3. The top words were taken and ranked by combining the number search volumes for each incorrect spelling of each word looked at.

David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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