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What a Dilemna!Are you one of the possibly millions of people worldwide that were taught to spell Dilemna with an 'N' and have been shocked to discover that you are absolutely 'wrong' because the word has apparently always been spelled with a double 'MM' as

For me it was in 2012. Blissfully driving along only to burst out laughing at a huge billboard advertising the film called

The Dilemma alternate universe? "Brilliant, someone's made a gigantic spelling mistake in 12 foot high letters! "

After the laughter stopped I began to think that it can't be possible for anyone to make that big a blunder surely? So maybe it's just another American Simplified spelling of an old English word?
Yes that sounds likely, I'm sure that will be the explanation!
I got home and did a quick search on Google to confirm my assumption...


The shocking truth turns out to be that Dilemna has never, ever been spelled with an N...
Worse yet, it's not even been given a passing mention as a possible alternative spelling in any dictionary going back hundreds of years!
(Although Wikipedia has now picked up on this spelling dilemna and at least acknowledges it is an issue for folk like us!)


In fact the origin of the word is apparently derived from two ancient Greek words, DI meaning two, and LEMMA meaning propositions or alternatives.
So the correct spelling of the word is definitely
'Dilemma' ...and always has been!

Well I was pretty taken aback by this revelation and felt a bit disorientated. It was definitely spelled with an 'N'. I had absolutely no doubt!
In fact I have a distinct memory of the 'N' spelling being used in spelling tests at school fairly frequently, the silent 'N' would often catch people out. Like many others I distinctly remembering reciting it in my head as DI-LEM-NA so as to remember how to spell it correctly!
I would sometimes even pronounce the word out loud as DilemNA just for effect - no wonder there were strange looks...

Blown away by the dilemna spelling dilemna.Now, most spelling mistakes come about because the correct spelling isn't what you'd expect it to be - for example it's very easy to understand why young kids often spell school as skool because that's the way it sounds. But with Dilemna it's a particularly odd mistake because it's exactly the other way round - ie. a more complex silent N is inserted which can't have originated from the way the word sounds?
Why would a simple, very easily spelled word, be mistakenly made much harder to spell??

From the hundreds of comments received here it seems that the Dilemna with an 'N' spelling spreads across many generations from 15 to 90+ year olds and right across the world - every English speaking nation seems affected!
This site alone attracts visitors from over 50 different countries.

One of the interesting things about this spelling 'error' is that on first discovery many report feeling a bit physically shaken by it - as if a fundamental building block in their upbringing has suddenly crumbled away and left them feeling slightly disorientated. That's certainly the way I initially felt and was pleased to see that I'm not alone!

Ok, so what is the explanation??

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