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Misspelling or alternative spelling[edit]

I would argue that "vermillion" is not an alternative spelling for the colour vermilion (one "L"), but a misspelling. Incorrect usage doesn't make something more correct, it just propagates errors. I propose deleting this entry and correcting any references to it. "Remember that there is only one L in vermilion."

I think you are right. It's not in Merriam-Webster or Chambers either. Equinox 21:23, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
... but vermillion is a valid, if archaic, spelling, and a glance at the many citations in the OED, as well as many usages in Google Books will confirm the validity, so I strongly oppose deletion. Dbfirs 21:51, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
... Thanks, Equinox. That response was fast! (Spenser spelt it with a double-ell in Faerie Queene, and there are 31 other cites in the OED with this spelling.) I can find three cites from the 1990s for the double-ell spelling, so even "archaic" might be too strong, but we have this problem in Wiktionary that we cite mis-spellings as alternatives, so I'm not going to add them. Dbfirs 21:55, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
... Thanks Equinox. Dbfirs, if you read any of Faerie Queene, I wouldn't regard it as a reference for spelling English, even 1880s style. Check out the title. Here is some further discussion. I would regard the cites from the 1990s as erroneous. Errors do get published, hence the need for errata. DrX au (talk) 11:08, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
... Yes, I did think that Spenser wasn't a good example, after I had posted the reply. The fact that the OED has 31 other cites with the variant spelling convinces me that it was once considered a valid alternative. Dbfirs 13:11, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
On what basis is it said to be "archaic"? There are many, many instances of contemporary usage. No other dictionary flags it as archaic. Every other dictionary simply lists it as an alternative form. Bkonrad (talk) 12:09, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
You say "every other dictionary", but most (not all) of the links on that page actually go to vermilion, not vermillion. Equinox 12:57, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Yes, and if you look at the entries, both spellings are listed, with no indication of archaism. Bkonrad (talk) 13:29, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
It's possible there may be a Brit vs. Am Eng variation. I just noticed that this entry from Oxford Dictionaries is different from this entry. Bkonrad (talk) 21:03, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Collins Dictionary of American English has no listing for vermillion, but asks if you mean vermilion. Meanwhile, fuschia is listed in 3 of the OneLook dictionaries without correction (Free Dictionary, Mnemonic Dictionary, & which means they can be eliminated as credible references. One even cites published usages of fuschia, including one by the Ontario Ministry of Education! DrX au (talk) 02:07, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
Strange. Collins English Dictionary does have an entry. I don't understand what you meant by your fuschia comment. I do not see any mention of fuschia in the entries for those dictionaries linked from here. Bkonrad (talk) 03:41, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
In an analogous situation, fuchsia is a frequently misspelled colour, and the misspelled form has published examples. Just because you can cite it doesn't mean it's right. BTW, "analogous" is IMO of course. DrX au (talk) 03:45, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
There are 2 instances of "vermilion" in the Authorized Version of the bible (published in 1611). Both have one L. Chambers and the OED list the one-L version with no accepted alternatives. It is an easily misspelt word because it ends in the familiar "million" but you have to look to the derivation. I could find many, many contemporary usages of "skillful" and "supercede", but none of them would be correct. Yet they have been published in dictionaries. DrX au (talk) 23:45, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Sorry but this appears to be rather speculative. I don't see any of the sources labeling it as either incorrect or archaic. Bkonrad (talk) 03:40, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
And FWIW, the OED does in fact list vermillion as a variant spelling of vermilion. Bkonrad (talk) 03:51, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
However, in this OED version it clearly states "Spelling help: Remember that there is only one L in vermilion." Therefore the double-L version is a misspelling, i.e. is incorrect. DrX au (talk) 04:28, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
That is not the OED. It is a dictionary published by Oxford UP, and is derivative in some way of the OED, but it is not the OED. Bkonrad (talk) 12:52, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
Without getting into another argument, I said it was an OED version, in the same way the Concise and Shorter OEDs are versions of The OED. DrX au (talk) 09:10, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
It's a minor point, but the web site gives no indication that the dictionary is based on the OED. It doesn't clear say what dictionary it is based on. But given that the en:Oxford Dictionary of English is explicitly not based on the OED, I suggest it is misleading to refer to that dictionary as a version of the OED. Bkonrad (talk) 13:34, 21 March 2013 (UTC)
"No other dictionary flags it as archaic." How about this one?: The Century Dictionary (The Century Co., New York, 1895, p6730) "vermilion (vėr-mil’yon), n. and a. [Formerly also vermillion, virmilion ...]" So it was considered archaic in 1895, so much for 2013. Many modern and authoritative dictionaries don't even list the double-L spelling as an alternative: Chambers 21st Century, Random House Unabridged Dictionary (American), Macmillan English Dictionary (American & British English editions). So according to these dictionaries, vermillion is not archaic - it's not a word. The translators of the bible could spell vermilion in 1611, in the King's English, so ask yourself if the double-L version is outdated, an American-preferred variant, or simply bad spelling, repeated for centuries. DrX au (talk) 07:53, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
OK, thank you. I'd say the evidence is mixed. It is listed without any notation as a variant in other dictionaries. And the double-L so-called "mistake" is also common. I'm not very active on Wiktionary, so I'm not terribly familiar with it's orientation, but I very much doubt that it endorses a prescriptive approach to language. Bkonrad (talk) 11:13, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
I agree that the evidence is inconsistent, but I hope that Wiktionary aims for accuracy and consistency. Chambers was the previous official Scrabble reference, but somehow Collins now has that role, so you can get away with playing "vermill" in front of "ion" for a 50 point bonus, where before you couldn't. On the other hand, if your kid someday gets eliminated from a spelling bee where the official dictionary is Chambers, your protest over vermillion won't be upheld. As for Google Book searches, fuschia (not in any real dictionary) returns 32,800 results. DrX au (talk) 13:03, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
I've added a usage note to reflect both views. Dbfirs 13:11, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
Here's more evidence. Noah Webster Jr, in making his own version (1833) of the King James Bible went through and fixed all the spellings he thought were un-American. He removed the u from every instance of colour, and he thought threshold looked better with double-h, but he went over vermilion twice and thought that one-L was fine. In the 1st edition of his dictionary (1828), Webster did put 2 h's in threshhold and only one n in millenium. Even the most respected authors got it wrong sometimes. DrX au (talk) 02:36, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
"... citations in the OED, as well as many usages in Google Books will confirm the validity ..." Dbfirs, I don't think that hits on Google searches can support the validity of anything. Caribbean: 66.7 million hits, Carribean: 213 million hits (!), + 7.94 million Google Book search results (including published book covers). I found your pavillion entry, which should probably say "common misspelling of" rather than "alternative spelling". The latter makes it sound more tolerable. DrX au (talk) 08:11, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
I wish other editors of Wiktionary would read and follow your caveat in some of their strange entries, but where many respectable authors have used an alternative spelling, it is common for descriptive dictionaries to include it. I'm happy to include a "proscribed" or "dated" tag if you wish. In the case of "pavillion", the OED does say "now non-standard". I've added usage notes to clarify the entries, since I would not wish users to consider the "double-ell" spellings as standard, but have you tried looking up "vermillion" in the American Heritage Dictionary? Dbfirs 17:31, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
The AHD lists the double-L version as an alternate, but it would have to since a few place names are spelt that way. I find it interesting that both vermilion and pavilion derive from a French word with a double-L. However since they pulled out of Iraq and French fries were renamed Freedom fries, I doubt that their support in this debate will be called upon. I wonder if any other examples of one English word with two accepted spelling variants can be found. (Excluding American vs British versions e.g. center/centre, and proper nouns e.g. Mathew, Maddison) DrX au (talk) 01:17, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
Found one: judgement/judgment. DrX au (talk) 05:38, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
FWIW, Google Books' ngram viewer suggests that during the period from the 1970s to the present, the spelling with "ll" has occurred with about 1/6th the frequency of the "l" spelling. During the period from the 1870s to the 1970s, "ll" occurred with 1/12th the frequency of "l". From the 1760s through the 1820s, "ll" occurred with half the frequency of "l"). google books:intitle:dictionary "vermillion" turns up some older dictionaries (mostly translation dictionaries and dictionaries of particular industries' jargon, not general dictionaries of English) that seem to lemmatize the "ll" spelling. I think "{{cx|often|_|proscribed}} {{alternative spelling of|vermilion}}" is the most accurate way of describing it (being descriptive rather than prescriptive). - -sche (discuss) 21:25, 14 January 2014 (UTC)