Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A spellyng matter

SimpaticoI came across something a couple of times recently that struck me as wrong, and I made sure to look it up and reassure myself that I wasn’t off-base in thinking that it was wrong. I saw this error in someone’s post, but the worst thing was that I saw it on a nationally published blog.

I’m really not one to correct people on their grammar online. That’s really kind of a dick move. (Although if someone is being a real dick, I’m not above pointing out that they’re a grammatically incorrect dick.) But that doesn’t mean I can’t write about it here!

The word in question is simpatico, and in both cases I mentioned above, it was spelled ‘sympatico.’ That’s an easy mistake to make, because people naturally associate it with the word ‘sympathy.’ Both words come from the Latin sympathia, which means...well, sympathy. But our current use of the word comes from the Italian simpatico and the Spanish simpático, both obviously based on the Latin root.

It’s a great word, and I love the feeling of being on the same wavelength as a person. When that happens, I really do use the word. I consider it a great compliment when I tell someone that we are simpatico. I hope they realize that I don’t toss that word around lightly, and I reserve it for those moments when I feel like someone really gets me, or what I am trying to say.

As for spelling it correctly, I’m not sure if there is an easy solution to remembering that there is no Y in simpatico. Two ‘eyes,’ no Y’s? Sympathy: two Y’s, no ‘eyes’? I’m not sure. Maybe we all just need to keep a six-pack of that beer pictured in the fridge for reference purposes. Or maybe it’s just a matter of forcing yourself to remember that it’s not spelled the way you’d think it would be spelled, and if you type ‘sympatico,’ it will set off an alarm bell in your head.

If anyone has a good suggestion about how to remember the correct spelling, please leave it in comments. Then we can be simpatico.


  1. ... uh, I had a good old fashioned public education back when they taught lessons to fit the children and not to a standardized test created by men who tell women how they should care for their bodies... I always knew how to spell 'simpatico' and knew what it means..!

  2. mark i give you an A+ on that comment. i was a horrid speller but i did have sense enough to research things in the d-i-c-t-i-o-n-a-r-y.


  3. I just avoid using word I can't spell!

  4. I hear they have this thing called spell-check that puts a squiggly line under misspelled words nowadays..lol

  5. For a while a few years ago, I was using the Internet service of the local phone company, and my email address ended in "sympatico.ca." I know, that's not relevant, but it's all I got.


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