Archaic Spellings

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Oftentimes, we come across words in our books with odd spellings. In general we don't change what the author or printer wrote. Post-processors do usually correct printer's errors and leave a transcriber's note so that the reader has access to a work with its integrity intact. (They see what we saw.) There are some words and phrases that are either completely out of use or just not as common today. Following is a list of such words and phrases:

Hyphenated words

Words that almost always retain hyphens:

  • good-bye
  • good-by
  • to-day
  • to-morrow

Words that sometimes retain the hyphens:

  • care-taker
  • common-place
  • co-operate sometimes coöperate
  • court-yard
  • down-town
  • farm-yard
  • fire-place
  • fire-wood
  • good-will
  • honey-moon
  • honey-suckle
  • house-keeper
  • new-comer
  • note-book
  • note-paper
  • now-a-days
  • pocket-book
  • sea-side
  • some-one
  • to-night
  • up-lifted
  • up-stairs
  • work-man

Along with these, any direction may or may not be hyphenated: north-east, south-west, northwest, etc.

Words that we've seen hyphenated that we were surprised by:

  • bar-tender
  • crest-fallen
  • fore-finger
  • hap-hazard
  • near-by
  • Pall-Mall
  • rail-road
  • suit-case
  • table-spoonful
  • week-end

Spelling rarely used today

  • Alleghanies vs. Alleghenies
  • æroplane
  • æsthetics
  • any body
  • archæology
  • Cæsar
  • chuse
  • clew
  • coöperate
  • dulness
  • dumfound
  • eery
  • encyclopædia
  • frowardness (often mistaken for a misprinted "forwardness." Frowardness is a word)
  • fulness
  • gayety
  • heydey
  • hôtel
  • manœuver
  • mediæval
  • Pittsburg
  • Porto Rico
  • preëminently
  • rôle
  • Servians
  • Shakspeare, Shakspear
  • shew
  • some one
  • staid
  • wilful

British/American Spellings:

The differences between British and American spellings varied from decade to decade. Some spellings we now think of as "American" were standard in British English until late in the PG era. Conversely, older American books often use spellings we now think of as "British".

British American
acknowledgement acknowledgment
aluminium aluminum
catalogue catalog
centre center
colour color
cosy cozy
despatch dispatch
dialogue dialog
fulfil fulfill
grey gray
kerb curb
indorse endorse
judgement judgment
licence (noun) license
manœuvre manœuver or maneuver
mould mold
neighbour neighbor
practise (verb) practice
programme program
spelt spelled
theatre theater
travelling traveling
tyre tire
worshipping worshiping

Abbreviated words:

  • 'bus for omnibus
  • doc. for doctor
  • exam. for examination
  • frat. for fraternity
  • Fresh. for Freshman
  • grads. for graduates
  • gym. for gymnasium
  • Lit. for Literature
  • per cent. for per centum
  • 'phone for telephone
  • Prep. for Preparatory
  • Proc. for Proctor
  • prof. for professor
  • Soph. for Sophomore
  • 'varsity for university
  • &c. for etc.


  • household gods

What if I am unsure?

A [**note] is almost always a good choice. Asking in the project thread is another good idea. DP is very widely read and chances are someone has come across the same situation as well. Additionally, some of our members have access to the Oxford English Dictionary which holds a wealth of information on word usage through history.