Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

Posts Tagged ‘miniscule

Avoiding a tiny spelling error

with 7 comments

Very British Mini

Image by skithund via Flickr

Spot the very common spelling error in the following extracts:

The chances of those (i.e. poorer students) going to university are miniscule compared to those who are privately educated. (Telegraph online)

Ian McCartney, the miniscule, Scottish-born former chairman of the Labour Party, donned a kilt this week… (Independent online)

We can say this with confidence because aid to these countries is miniscule as a percentage of their GDP… (Guardian online)

Yes, isn’t it. (Tricky.)

The error is ‘miniscule’. And you’ll see it spelt wrongly but everywhere. The correct spelling is:


An easy mistake to make…

It’s an easy mistake to make because of the obvious analogy with the word ‘mini’. But ‘minuscule’  is not etymologically related to the word ‘mini’.

‘Mini’ derives from ‘miniature’. This is based on the Italian ‘miniatura’ via the earlier Latin ‘miniare’ and ‘minium’.

‘Minuscule’ derives from the Latin ‘minuscula’ meaning ‘somewhat smaller’.

Memory aid

I remember the spelling of minuscule by thinking of the word ‘minus’ rather than ‘mini’.

Spelling tips and tricks.