A Lesson in Spelling “Definite”
Next to the possessive adjective its, the word definite is possibly the most misspelled word in English. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve circled the misspelling “definate” in a student’s paper, I’d have enough money to buy a house.
Perhaps one way to impress the correct spelling of definite on the mind would be to consider the family of words to which it belongs.
finite: having bounds, ends, or limits
infinite: having no limit or end
infinity: the quality or attribute of being infinite or having no limit
define: to settle the limits of
And, of course, there’s
definite: Having fixed or exact limits
Look at all the “i” words in these definitions; Something that is infinite has no limits. Something that is finite has limits. To define is to limit. Something that is definite is limited.
There! Go forth and spell definite with two is.
…For babies and children, whose nutritional needs are extraordinary, the risks are definite and scary. The breast milk of vegetarian and vegan mothers is dramatically lower in a critical brain fat, DHA … (www.nytimes.com)
… one of the more useful words in the English language, but according to research by a linguistics professor, use of the definite article “the” has declined “radically” over the last century. (www.theguardian.com)
… of state for public health, committee chairman Neil Parish wrote: “We are disappointed with the lack of definite action taken by the FSA [Food Standards Agency] and wider government to date. We trust that the further response … (www.theguardian.com)
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