Rite, Write, Right, Wright

By Maeve Maddox

Here are four frequently misspelled words that your computer Spell Check won’t catch.

A rite is a ceremonial act. Ex. Catholics celebrate the rite of the Mass. A boy’s first haircut is a rite of passage.

The form write is the present tense form of the verb to write. Ex. Please write me a letter. The past participle form written is also often misspelled, but your spell checker will catch “writen.”

The word right is spelled with “three-letter i,” i.e., igh. Ex. Citizens have the right to assemble. Go two blocks and then turn right. He always thinks he’s right and everyone else is wrong.

The word wright is from an Old English word meaning worker or maker. A wheelwright makes wheels. A shipwright makes ships or boats. The word is more common now in a literary sense. One who writes plays is a playwright. A related word is wrought.

When Samuel Morse demonstrated his telegraph, his first message was “What hath God wrought!” The word wrought is an archaic past tense form of work. Used transitively, work has various meanings, including to bring about, to prepare, to fashion. Ex. He worked his will on the gullible crowd. She worked her initials into the embroidery design.

One more note on the word wrought. Sometimes spelled “wrot,” this is the word that refers to iron that has been shaped by hand. You may, for example, have some wrought-iron lawn furniture or a wrought-iron gate.

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4 Responses to “Rite, Write, Right, Wright”

  • Ove Pettersen

    When Samuel Morse demonstrated his telegraph, his first international message was “What hath God wrought!”

    Not so international, it seems to me! The message was sent on May 24, 1844, from Washington, DC, to Baltimore, MD.

    http://www.acmi.net.au/AIC/What_Hath_God_Wrought.html

    http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/may24.html

    http://www.answers.com/topic/what-hath-god-wrought

  • Maeve

    Ove,
    Thanks for the correction. That’s what I get for trusting to my memory for the Morse part.

    I’ve deleted the word in case there’s a pingback.

  • Cecily

    Don’t forget this:

    When you write copy you have the right to copyright the copy you write, if the copy is right. If however, your copy falls over, you must right your copy. If you write religious services you write rite, and have the right to copyright the rite you write.

    Very conservative people write right copy, and have the right to copyright the right copy they write. A right wing cleric would write right rite, and has the right to copyright the right rite he has the right to write. His editor has the job of making the right rite copy right before the copyright can be right.

    Should Jim Wright decide to write right rite, then wright would write right rite, which wright has the right to copyright. to duplicate that rite would be to copy wright’s right rite, and to violate copyright, which wright would have the right to right.

    Right?

  • Azad Shaikh

    I am confused:
    Right is also used for direction isn’t it?

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