The Dilemna Dilemma.

I hated English in school, and I don’t expect that my blog follows the rules of the AP Stylebook – like, ever. I have endless grammar quirks that I am positive make my journalist friends secretly despise me.

However, I have always been a fantastic speller. I’m convinced that spelling is something you’re born with or you’re not – my brain visualizes words as I think them, and I carefully store the correct spelling of every word away in a permanent file.

I specifically remember learning how to spell “dilemna” as a child. I remember pronouncing the “na” in my head every time I wrote it to remind myself that it possessed an m-silent-n instead of a double-m, which would have made much more sense. I still pronounce the “na” every time I write dilemna (just like when I write lbs., I hear it in my head as “labels.”)

It was a couple of years ago when I first realized that the correct spelling was actually was dilemma.

It was disturbing, but I assumed that it was just one of those words with dual correct spellings and moved on. I learned it dilemna and I preferred dilemna, but I could adapt to dilemma just as I had adapted to single spacing after a sentence.

However, without reason, it recently began gnawing at my soul. What happened to the dilemna as I knew it? Why wouldn’t my spellcheck acknowledge this alternate spelling that I purposefully learned as a child? My trick for spelling “delim-na” was as burned into my brain as mentally pronouncing “Wed-nes-day” and “Feb-are-you-airy.”

So I Googled it. “Dilemna or Dilemma?”

I was overjoyed to find a website devoted entirely to this predicament –

It quickly informed me that I was one of tens of thousands (and maybe millions) of people with this same dilemma about dilemma. Then they completely shot down my first theory of why.

“It turns out Dilemna has NEVER EVER been spelled with an N… Worse yet, there’s not even a passing mention in any dictionary going back hundreds of years offering it as a possible alternative spelling.”


They continued on to explain that there’s really no good explanation for why we are all so convinced that it should be dilemna – most common misspellings take place because our brains want to spell them the way they sound, but why would our brains add in a silent n? And why would so many people’s brains do it over a vast range of ages?

There isn’t a reason.

Could thousands of teachers have taught us all an incorrect spelling that wasn’t cited in any dictionary or textbook, influencing literally every generation of people alive on this earth today?

Quite unlikely.

After thoroughly debunking any possible explanation for The Dilemna Anomaly, they presented what they said was the only theory that made sense: The Alternate Universe Theory.

“Alternate universe enthusiast Marden Paul of Toronto put forward a theory several years ago that Dilemna people had all somehow crossed over into this parallel ‘Dilemma’ spelling universe and that’s why they feel physically staggered to discover that not only are they wrong but there’s also no trace of an N spelling anywhere in any dictionary in the history of this new universe!”

“Perhaps this alternate universe transition explains why many do feel slightly ‘shaken‘ when they make this discovery.”

They continued on with an entire page devoted to explaining how I am actually from an alternate universe, where children are correctly taught that dilemna is dilemna.

I read it. I pondered it. I spent most of my time puzzling over how very inefficient it is to have alternate universes just for the varying spellings of one word. It’s like printing a second page just because Page One ran out of room for the period at the end of my final sentence.

I pondered longer.

And I did the next logical step.

I called my Mommy.

It went like this.


“Hi Mom! Spell ‘dilemma’.”

“What? You’re the speller of the family. And you have spellcheck.”

“That’s not the point. Spell it.”

“But you know I’ve never been a good speller.”



“Really? THAT’S what you’re going with?”

“Yes. Why?”

“I just needed to know if you came over with me from the Alternate Universe. Apparently you did not.”

My mother and I proceeded into a heartfelt and private exchange where I explained to her that I was not her true daughter, and apologized for any deception on my part, albeit completely without my knowledge.

Since I homeschooled, my mother must have taught me the dilem-na trick. However, my current-universe mother can’t spell dilemma right in this universe or my parallel, so it clearly wasn’t her that taught me the “NA” trick. Which means that when I did slip through the keyhole, I left my original mother behind.

I spent a quiet moment mourning the loss of Original Mother, and wondered if she could spell better than New Mother…

Which brought up the most puzzling question: what happened to the Dilemma-Universe-Rachel? Because New Mother certainly seems legit in her claim to me, and since the swap didn’t happen until after I learned to spell, we all would have realized something was amiss if everything else wasn’t identical. Did Other Rachel slip through the rift at the exact same time, into the Dilemna Universe? Is she now wondering why she desperately wants to write dilemma when everyone knows there’s a silent n? Is Old Mother constantly frustrated at Rachel’s inability to properly spell dilemna?

I feel bad for her. Because I know how it feels to be an alien.

140824c Observation

I’m now considering starting a support group. I feel that all of us Dilemna Universe Migrants should bond together so we have someone to talk to about The Old Country. Where ns were silent and ms didn’t gang up together to confuse. Where our mothers had tricks to help us learn to spell important words and didn’t brush us off to spellcheck. Where there was never a dilemna about the spelling of dilemna.

Late in the evening on the day I discovered my origins, Chris and I were sitting on the couch, cuddling and talking. I was afraid of his answer – afraid it would change everything – but I had to know. I couldn’t go on with the question burning the inside of my skull.

I tried to sound casual.

“Hey babe, how do you spell dilemma?”

“You mean ‘dilem-na’?”

I jumped into his arms and passionately hugged him , then squealed into his ear, “We’re from the same universe!!!!”

And that, most likely, is why I have always loved him so.

And now I must know. Which universe are you from? I’ll try not to let it alter our relationship.

Leave your comment below!


  1. I am apparently from the Double-M Universe, since I had no idea that anyone ever thought there was a different way of spelling “dilemma.”

  2. No, it wasn’t just you.

    I was taught it with an N, and anyone who wants to play revisionist history with that can go to hell.


  3. Hmm…I’m befuddled. When I read your title, I didn’t even slightly balk at the spelling that used the “n.” The double “m” looked totally wrong. As I read on, I couldn’t recall ever having to spell the word (I’m avoiding it now). I’m a visual learner and typically can just see the right spelling in my mind as if printed on a page that I’ve read. I can’t seem to do that with this one. The “n” seems pointless but looks more right than the double “m.” I think I’ll have to ponder this in fetal position for the next hour or two. :(

    • Mark David Griswold says:

      Right ON! See you there!!! It has NEVER been a ”Dilemma”’ for ME, because it ALWAYs WAS ‘D i l e m Na!!!! Of course, I was hit by a car without headlights on when returning from my PT job when I was 15, on Nov. 2nd, 1968, so to quote from a Movie (which I NOW realize was made for MY benefit!!) The spelling was changed — ”'”While You Were SLEEPiNG””’!!!!! [Of course, it is quite possible that I ALSO am from that ”ALTERNATE UNIVERSE”!!! [Which WOULD explain an AWFUL LOT!!!!!] {Which, of Course, leaves ME in a Terrible DilemNa!!! [[[BUT the BIBLE tells me to ‘PRAiSE the LORD in ALL THiNGS!!!”’


      THANK YOU, JESUS!!! PLEASE show us the TRUTH, since YOU Are ”’The WAY, The TRUTH, And The LIFE, and No one Comes To The FATHER, BUT BY YOU!!”’ [John 14:6]

      • I see you quote the Bible.

        If something could change dictionaries while you were sleeping, whatever-it-was could also change any book — including the Bible.

        Just for starters, look up Isaiah 11:6 and tell me if it’s first few words are _exactly_ as you remember them. Then check every other verse you can remember. (To help with this,you can use — it’s like “Google for the Bible” — or even use actual Google and compare it with every actual printed Bible you can get your hands on.)

        And — what will you do, if (or when) you blow the dust offf the Bible on your shelf and you find that any part of the printed Bible doesn’t match your memories about the Bible? Will you go by the actual printed Bible, or by the bits you remember? Where they differ, will you change your memories — or the hard-copy evidence?

  4. I am absolutely from the dilemna universe. (My Chrome spell check has that word underlined.) I always say it dilem-na in my head, and sometimes even out loud. I remember being shocked the first time spell check told me I was wrong because I also have been a life-long good speller. I think you should do one of your scientific polls about how people spell that word. I will post one on my Facebook also and let you know my data!

  5. It’s not dilemna? What?!

    I’ve won spelling bees.


    I can’t decide which is worse.

  6. Anne DeRuiter says:

    Between the spelling kerfuffle and that single-space-after-a-period remark, my brain is officially on overload. I’m going back to bed.

  7. I’m from the double-m universe. But I agree that the word looks wrong when it’s spelled that way. But really, neither way looks right. The word is indeed what it calls itself to be.

  8. Oh dear Lord… A silent N in dilemma? No.

    No. No. No.

    I’ve never even seen it spelled that way… how is it possible, when we grew up at the same time in the same geographical region and under the SAME SCHOOL UMBRELLA?

    It’s like I don’t even know you.

  9. I’ve never heard of, seen or considered “dilemma” being spelled with an “n” being IN OR ADJACENT TO IT. The fact this is even being presented as a hypothesis is everything that’s wrong with the Internet.


    This is on par with the time I wrote about the word “wheelbarrow” and found out that half of my blog readers think the word is WHEELBARREL OMG.

  10. Sarah R in WI says:

    I have never ever heard of “dilemna”. I have always spelled it “dilemma.” I wonder if it’s a regional quirk?

    I will continue to resist the single spacing after a sentence!

  11. I don’t think I have ever had to spell it but you are right dilemma looks wrong. If you were to ask me which way was write before I read your blog I would probably have chosen the silent N way . So I guess I am from the same universe.

  12. Never heard that one, but I remember the (sad) day that I discovered that attach no longer has a 3rd t — rhymes with match, right? And there are a LOT of people pushing wheel barrels around!!

  13. As I was reading the start of this, I nodded along about being a Spelling Person. I thought, “Dilemna? I don’t think that’s right. But…it’s not like I ever have a reason to write it. So. Maybe it is…?”

    As soon as you spelled it dilemma, I felt relief! Whew! I had it. I guess I’m from this universe…!

    (I pronounce lbs as labs in my head. Also I think I have commented on my lbs brain pronunciation before on this blog. Otherwise, I’m having major déjà vu.)

    • You did NOT comment about labs on this blog…but you DID comment about it when I shared this as an Uncomfortable Truth on Katherine’s Blog:

      So there you go! Your feelings are justified.

    • I mentally pronounce “lbs.” as “lulbs.”

      • Came here searching for information about dilem(m/n)a.

        Whew, it’s not just me!
        (I pronounce ‘lbs.’ as ‘ell bees’ in my head, and ‘tsp.’ is ’tisp,’ even though it is already a perfectly reasonable abbreviation for ‘teaspoon.’)

        I am from the ‘dilemna’ parallel universe, for what it’s worth, and I still feel very uncomfortable about this whole ‘dilemma’ situation. I’m one of those people with the kind of visual/linguistic brain that sees the spelling in her mind’s eye as soon as thinking of the word. Spelling is important to me, and I’m a good speller, and it’s always been ‘dilemna.’ I never thought much of the silent ‘n,’ because it looked akin to words like ‘damn,’ ‘hymn,’ ‘limn,’ ‘column,’ ‘autumn,’ and ‘condemn.’

  14. I cannot recall ever spelling that word but it looks right with an N. I am going to go with N though because Punky Brewster always said ‘dilemons’. Where would she have pulled the N sound from?
    I do not understand single spacing. It feels wrong.

  15. Lindsey Murphy says:

    I don’t have strong feelings either way about “dilem(n)ma”. Perhaps I time hop between universes? However, the oxford comma is worth shedding blood over. I will have an oxford comma on my tombstone one day.

  16. Hi Rachel,
    I have just recently started reading your blogs (started with jeans articles on Pinterest). I feel like you are a kindred spirit. I thought it was dilemna too. I am a slow reader because my eyes linger over every word as if they are all fruit tarts under glass. Also, I was completely blown away by the one-space-after-sentence revelation. Wow. Just wow. I thought 2 spaces was a universal law, like the rule about covering food to cook in the microwave with saran wrap. It keeps the sentences apart, so they don’t spill onto eachother and make a mess. Hmm … I guess I will have to change.

  17. I wonder if it is/ was a regional thing. I was also taught dilem-na (in La) (as well as alot, which now makes me recoil in horror.) Dilemna, on the otherhand, will always have an ‘n’ in my heart, even if spell check disagrees.

  18. I have never heard of it spelled with an “n” but I also thought you spelled it dilemma both times in the title until I looked again, so who knows.

  19. Girl!! Dilemna is the CORRECT spelling and I don’t care who about that little red line that is currently residing under the word. I was raised with dilem na. We change spelling to make it easier.. really? Why would we do that. I think it’s a conspiracy of the non-spellers.
    PS — I am all in on the support group..

  20. I have never heard of spelling it with an n. Is is an accent thing?? Maybe it’s just Southerners that pronounce the N. :)

  21. It has an “N’ in it, no doubt. My mind is confused with your telling me that’s incorrect. I’m a speller too. So. Weird.

  22. Dilemma all the way. I had no idea there were people who spelled it (and said it, evidently) a different way. But I love you anyway! lol

  23. holy cow!
    I had this discussion with my husband a couple months ago
    I could’ve SWORN that delimna had an “n” in it, he is a horrible speller so he had no clue, and I looked it up and felt dumb because I couldn’t find a single place that agreed with my spelling.
    Where did this come from? How are so many of us fooled? Why do I feel SO convinced that it should have an “n”?

  24. Kasarah Ferrell says:

    Double-M, I almost don’t want to admit it now because I want to belong to an alternate universe club or gang? I guess depending on how intense you see the group as a whole. I am also a horrible speller, so send me my rejection letter through text…less personal way to let me down easy.

    • Kasarah Ferrell says:

      P.S. I have a graphic hanging in my office that says: “I’m fairly certain that the person who put the first r in February also decided how to spell Wednesday.” This is truly how I feel about the English language in general…bitter.

      • Mark David Griswold says:

        Referring to the day of the week, why don’t they just spell it like Everyone says it……..””’WENDsDay””’ or ””’WENZDay””’ {Of course, that MAY be interpreted as ANTi Work Ethic — “KEEP your ZZZ’s at the END of the WEEK!!!”’

    • Well at least it looks like you’re in the company of approximately half the world, although dilemna universe is WAY better.

  25. I wonder if it’s a typography thing – the m’s running together making it hard to distinguish between mm an mn? Because as I’ve been trying to look it up, there have been a number of times when I thought I found an “mn” dictionary entry only to find on closer examination it had shifted to “mm”.

    (I also thought it was dilemna)

  26. This reminds me of a conversation I had the other day with a lady at work. She says sherbet and I corrected her with sherbert. She googled it and assured me sherbert does not have an ‘r’. What?!

    As far as the dilemma/dilemna debate. I’ve always spelled it dilemma.

  27. Lindsay Zannis says:

    I would have bet the life of my first-born child that it was spelled “delimna”. Not really, but you get the picture. And I, too, have always been a fantastic speller. This has totally rocked my world!

  28. I’m only commenting to let you know I’m clasping my hands to my face, home alone style, and shaking my head in disbelief. At you and your commenters. An N????????? I feel like this is an elaborate internet ruse, and you guys are all hanging out and laughing at us for buying it.

    Are you?

    Are YOU?

    • No, not a ruse. I went on a mission to spellcheck DILEMNA, only to find dilemma..I am considering rejecting the double m. What makes them the arbitors of this dilemna?

  29. Well, I’m not a natural speller, so I’m with your mom. That’s exactly how I would have spelled it.

  30. Loving the alternate universe theory – however this is a “proud to be greek” and having a masters in classic studies moment for me: you know the correct spelling because you know where the word came from

  31. Ok. So it doesn’t look right with m’s. But I learned to spell it that way. The other way doesn’t look right either. Go figure. Oh! . And my brain will not let me single space after a sentence. No way. No how.

  32. Apparently I am from a 3rd universe where we didn’t ever learn to spell dilem(na)(ma) because I have an eidetic memory and I can’t ever remember learning to spell it. They both look right, although I must say, I’m leaning towards (na) if I had to choose to write it out.

  33. also, I tend to mutter ‘el-bows’ when spelling lbs. so…yeah, 3rd universe for me.

  34. Well, now I’ve looked at the word so many times that it looks weird either way. And I honestly don’t know – I’m a good speller too but both ways look right. I say we petition for alternate spellings.

  35. I’m with you on Dilemna. The double M just looks odd. I may have to ask my mom this question too. Although, who knows who taught me how to spell that word…

  36. Mike from – which has now had 83000 genuine visitors… many of whom are totally gobsmacked. That’s actually the equally strange thing, why so many are physically shaken on discovery of the ‘true’ spelling.
    I have no idea what the explanation is – all the rational ones are full of holes when you think about them for a while.
    Being fascinated by particle physics I like the idea of tying the two things together even if it’s a huge stretch of credibility! But if you think there’s positively no connection, try watching the nice little video link on the site about wave/particle duality… science fact.

  37. What bothers me most about this whole post was when I read, “but I could adapt to dilemma just as I had adapted to single spacing after a sentence.”

    People single space after a sentence?!?!?!?! Where I have I been? That’s my dilemna, I mean dilemma. Let me deal with that first and I’ll get back to you on the spelling of dilemna/dilemma.

  38. I am with you on the correct spelling being dilemna. I can’t believe the internet says that never was an accepted way of spelling it! Mind is blown.

  39. the more i think about it the more confused i am…. but the “n” one seems more familiar to me… im so confused!

  40. As I was reading your post, I was thinking, “Surely I haven’t been misspelling the word ‘dilemma’ my whole life.” I have never seen it spelled with an n! My theory is that the brain doesn’t like the way the two m’s look together. I have always been a good speller, too, yet I often second-guess myself with double consonants.

  41. Oh how this post made me Laugh!! I love it! I’m from your universe too! Tho, now it makes me wonder if it’s a homeschool thing…

  42. Also, having read through some of the comments, I wanted to note that I learned a new word. Eidetic. Thanks!

  43. I’m from the dilemNa universe. This subject came up out of the blue this morning on a FB page for sci-fi writers…interestingly, we are in the middle of compiling an anthology of stories about aliens, and I’m writing a novella on time travel and alternate parallel universes, so…plenty of peculiar parallels here!

    I am one of the good, natural spellers, so I was also shocked to learn it wasn’t dilemna, and had never been dilemna. Although Wiki says this: “The errant spelling dilemna is often seen in common usage. It appears to have been taught in many areas of the United States and all over the world, including (but not limited to) France, England, Jamaica and Australia. There is no prima facie reason for this substitution error and there is no erroneous parallel to be found with the word lemma, from which dilemma derives.”

    I think I first noticed this oddity of my spelling memory when I learned the Gilbert & Sullivan song “A Nice Dilemma” during law school.

    I have to go lie down now.

  44. I am from the dilemna universe. Thank you for posting this. I thought I was the only one… ☺️

  45. I came across your blog while searching for something else in the same sort of realm, I guess you could say.

    Have you heard or read about the whole Berenstein/Berenstain Bears debacle? I am from the universe where we spelled the book about the Bears with an E. Apparently now it is spelled with an A. My mind is totally blown over this!

    Would love to know your thoughts about it.

    Oh and my mom spelled dilemma with the N. What is going on?!

  46. I’m in shock, I searched for dilemna cause I just knew the autocorrect kept getting it wrong. I like your alternate universe story

  47. I also am one of those that have won almost every spelling bee in which I’ve been involved. I am from the Midwest and fairly intelligent. I know that I was taught dilemna was the correct spelling .this site is even correcting my spelling here. I would have bet anything that it was spelled that way in every dictionary, because of not wanting to be wrong, I usually looked up words with unusual spelling. ARE YOU REALLY TELLING ME THAT NOT ONE DICTIONARY EVER SPELLED IT DILEMNA ? I REFUSE TO BELIEVE IT !!! alternate universe— DEFINATELY . BY THE WAY definitely can be spelled either way with “I” or “a” .

    • According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary on my phone, “definately” is definitely wrong. ;) But other than that, I’m right there with you. And seriously, who messed with my Berenstein Bears??? Apparently I’m from the dilemna, Berenstein Bears (written by Stan & Jan Berenstein), two spaces after a period, and Oxford commas alternate universe!!

    • RE:

      Yes — and even if nobody was telling you that, the dictionaries would speak for themselves.

    • Re:
      “. BY THE WAY definitely can be spelled either way with ‘I’ or ‘a’.”

      No dictionary ever spelled it “definately” — just as no dictionary ever spelled the related words (“definite/finite/finish”) as “definate/finate/finash.”

  48. I must have crossed over, as well. Thanks for the explanation!

  49. I have definitely crossed over. Although I have no clue where i learned the “incorrect” spelling, I know that was a word I learned at a very young age (Im 14 now). After typing or writing dilemna on countless essays and worksheets, mainly for English, I typed it around a month ago to find the red squiggly line, and immediately felt completely disoriented. Ironically, many people that i am very close to, including family and close friends, have acted significantly different ever since my realization. Is it possible that I really do not know the people I am closest to? This whole thing, even over a month later, is disorienting every time I try to spell the word correctly. Although they doubt my sanity, my family fails to realize the similarity to other words like this, such as column or hymn, which follow the same pattern, and instead laugh off my “wrong spelling” of the word, even though I have always been the best speller in the house. I need sleep. Lots of sleep. If this really is an alternate universe, what other changes could there be that have simply not arisen yet in this world? What if some of these impact lives far more than the dilemna dilemna? *drops microphone and walks offstage*

    • The claimed similarity to COLUMN and HYMN is false.

      COLUMN and HYMN derive from Greek words spelled with letters equivalent to MN, but DILEMMA derives instead from a Greek word spelled with letters equivalent to MM.

  50. I want to shed this light on the spelling of dilemma vs dilemna as I wish I could comment one way or another as to how I was taught to spell it. I seem to remember it as Dilemma in the early 80’s but I can’t recall. Many people want to think that all these years they were taught wrong. I disagree. I remember back in 1998 I was writing a thesis and used this word and looked it up in my dictionary from 1920 and it was used with the dilemna spelling but now the same dictionary says dilemma. At first I thought I was nuts… but I have a different theory, around 2000 to 2002 something happened that made the following changes and some people only remember one of both ways while some question the other way, while some may understand both ways. It’s not an open or closed argument!

    Here are the changes I have noted since the years 2000-2002: Dilemna became Dilemma and Berenstein bears became the Berenstain bears.

    My theory is this. In the end, Satan and the Antichrist will change the signs and the times. (I think the times may refer to the established order of things, at first it will be subtle like these two instances but in the end it will become more prominent).

    The power of the spiritual world is at work and these are two examples of a change. Some will laugh at this theory and some will say others are stupid for what they know to be right in their hearts and minds. The reality is both are right because a power is at work that you cannot simply comprehend that can change any book ever written and make a change to it in an instance.

    This is not a parallel universe as some may think and espouse but the extent of deeper spiritual forces and powers at work.

    Because of these two things, it is clear to me that Jesus is real and the truth the way and the light of the world. We are nearing the final days of Biblical Prophecy!

    • Fundamentalism is a mental disorder. That’s also a new theory.

    • So … if ” a power is at work that you cannot simply comprehend that can change any book ever written and make a change to it in an instan[t],” that power can also instantly change the Bible.

      Have you checked the entire Bible, cover to cover, to see if the parts of the Bible that you remember are _exactly_ the same as you remember them?

      Suppose your memory of the Bible differs, in one or more verses/chapters/books, from the Bible that stands on your shelf or on anybody’s shelf … what will you do then?

    • My theory is this:

      Around 2000-2002, for a reason I’ll give below, people started noticing spellings more — paying more attention to what was actually written (to the specific letters and words actually in front of their eyes) than they paid to their own feelings and memories. This caused them to notice that what was out there, before their eyes — -and had been there all along — really DIDN’T fit their humanly vague, emotion-influenced, and slightly fallible memories of how various words looked.

      As to what, precisely, MADE that happen — and made it happen just then, and not earlier, for most people — well, 2000-2002 is when A LOT of people started spending A LOT more time on the Internet and with computers generally … therefore, reading a lot more (and reading A LOT more things from different sources), and seeing A LOT more misspellings corrected.

    • Re:
      “. In the end, Satan and the Antichrist will change the signs and the times”

      If so, then they could also change the Bible, while they were at it.

      HAVE they changed the Bible? How would you know? Are ALL the Scriptures you remember EXACTLY as you remember them? And how would you find (and prove) that any changes were made in those that you DON’T rem mber?

  51. I was taught dilemna. Period. No alternative universe. This one. Here’s what Wiki has to say on the matter… The errant spelling dilemna is often seen in common usage. It appears to have been taught in many areas of the United States and all over the world, including (but not limited to) France, England, Jamaica and Australia.[1][2][3] There is no prima facie reason for this substitution error and there is no erroneous parallel to be found with the word lemma, from which dilemma derives.

  52. I am 31 years old and work full time where I take care of really sick people. I just got married and am hoping to have kids soon. I was writing an article where my friend pointed out that i had mispelled dilemna. “Do you have a dilem-NA?” she jeered. I didnt believe her. Microsoft Word didn’t even highlight it red! I began a very personal and intense journey and have started to question everything. My marriage, my career choices. If, I got dilemma wrong, what else did I mess up?

  53. Got a real laugh out of your spelling dilemna! I found you by Googling (this is a real word now, right?) the right spelling because Microsoft word highlighted my correct spelling D-I-L-E-M-N-A as wrong! Some of the responses you received have been equally as funny to read. I’m certain I’m going to be asking friends and family how they spell it starting as soon as my husband gets home from work this evening. Thank you for the entertaining read!

  54. Here is another dilemna:

    Interview with A Vampire, or Interview with THE Vampire?

    Another: Berenstain Bears or BerenSTEIN Bears?

    oh and… Sex IN the City or Sex AND the City?

  55. I fancy myself a good speller, but today I lost a bet regarding how dilemma is spelled. I bet the farm – and lost. I was certain it was dilemna….

  56. It’s alright, fellow travelers, I am also from the alternate universe. The universe of Berenstein Bears, dilemnas, and there are two spaces after a period.

  57. Well, I’m Latvian, and my language doesn’t use silent letters whatsoever. Thus, it would be physically impossible to spell anything, in this case “dilemma” with a silent “n” in my language. So…it’s either some weird mistake, or Latvian as I know it, doesn’t exist in your universe.

  58. Going back to the Oxford dictionary of 1551 we can find the spelling dilemna. The word contains an esoteric construct based on the mathematical formulation of the english alphabet. This formulation borrows from Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. The soft drink brand 7up pays homage to the esoteric formula. The esoteric construct also adds to the meaning of the brands Camel and Apple. The Beatles were well aware of the construct of and chose well for their label name. I’m sure Steve and Steve from Apple computer chose their brand after this concept. BTW – the code is “the a-p pole. The a-p pole shortens into apple. And there’s much more. Understanding the a-p pole and 7up offers great insight as to the nature of the original spelling in old english. Dilemna. The letters mn are very significant. They contain a very specific meaning. The letters d and l are signifiers. offering the descriptive aspect of the state of mn.. Just as the letter o offers great significance when placed before mn in the word omni etc. Signifying letters make the english alphabet a fascinating descriptive device……..

  59. I must be from the alternate universe. I’ve spelled it this way my entire life. I went to both public and private school at various times in my childhood. I would swear I was taught in school to spell it with an N.

  60. Gilbert Louttit says:

    Hi Rachel.
    Your blog is medicine – I’m still wiping away the tears.

    Well sorry to complicate the universii issue, but there are more than two.
    I came on Google looking for weather dillemma or or dilemma was correct.
    So if there are MM, MN and a LL universii, there may be more.

    Also I’ve committed home schooling – my eldest daughter. (Luckily she was a ‘born’ speller).
    So I’m twice wrong LL, home schooling, no wait, make that thrice wrong – I married an architect!

    On a less ironic note – thanks for the spelling visualisation tip – I’ve still been stuck with 1970’s Australian primary school sounding-it-out. Not so effective for a student teacher in my 50’s

  61. sorry guys, don’t know how it got to be the way it NOW is, but i’m an 80’s child, and i know for a fact that here in the UK, dilemna was ALWAYS spelled dilemna.
    The interview was with A vampire (can remember the movie release poster)
    and that girly TV show that used to be on was DEFINITELY “sex IN the city”.
    What i want to know is when did we shift, and how many of us did? and where the hell did we shift to?

  62. Greg Hope says:

    Rachael (smileyface): I honestly don’t want to spoil any options. Whatever Universe you guys are from, I loved reading on this webpage. Humor is the last reward, then god asks why you were laughing.
    And seriously, when writer’s block presents you with a lemna… propose natural sweeteners.

  63. Christine says:

    You are experiencing the Mandela Effect, look it up, its parallel time lines merging.. here are some other examples
    Chartreuse / puce have swapped colors

    • The color “puce” was named “puce” because reddish-purple is the color of a blood-gorged flea (“puce” is French for “flea”).
      So, how would “puce” anywhere get to stand for greenish-yellow (chartreuse)? Did fleas, or blood, have a different color wherever you remember growing up?

  64. Lorin Chapman says:

    I was shocked to discover an entire planet of people not only misspelled the word dilemna, they even had the audacity to suggest the correct spelling has never even been brought to their attention. Right now there is a red line under the word dilemna and it’s doing my head in. I check the spelling of the word every time I use it in case I may have slipped back into the dilemna universe the same way I slipped out of it. I asked my father, a well-educated lawyer, how the word is spelled and was shocked at his answer. I thought I knew the man.

  65. Thank you for that educational and hilarious post!

    I am from that alternate universe, and I needed someone to take me by the hand to help me accept the no ‘N’ universe. How disappointing! But how nice to know the truth. My favorite Scripture is “People perish because they refuse to love the Truth”. And oh how difficult the truth can be when you have accepted a lie for decades. Now I just have to get used to this truth I don’t like. Maybe I will eventually love it … and not perish!

    You’re awesome.

    • Re:
      “My favorite Scripture is ‘People perish because they refuse to love the Truth”

      You must mean 2 Thessalonians 2:10 — ” …. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” Since it’s your favorite scripture, why do you slightly misquote it?

      The way you quoted it _is_ _not_ in the Bible.
      Or do you feel that the Bible has changed, too?

  66. Arthur McKay says:

    Dilemna is correct for some of us – me included. We do shift realities or timelines, as I think of it. I have never seen or felt anything to clue me in that a timeline shift is happening but the evidence, afterwords, is overwhelming. One week I was googling for a new glass pot for my Expresso maker and then, one day, Google started correcting me and asking if I meant Espresso, without the “x”? All of my life it had been Expresso with an “x” and there had never been an alternate spelling. My roommate and I have noticed the shifts occurring more frequently. Neither of us can explain why these shifts occur.

  67. I am from the DILEM-NA universe. I specifically remember learning in school that the n was silent and that’s how I remembered how to spell it. Also there are many others…

    I was taught there were 52 states growing up.. The teacher told me the way to remember was it was the same as a deck of cards, and Hawaii and Alaska were the ones to make the last two. Somewhere around ten years ago I noticed it switched to 50.

    Sketchers- apparently it’s skechers? Wtf!

    Oscar Meyer- Oscar Mayer?? When the heck did that happen!

    Berenstein- berenstain!?!?! this one was what brought it all to my attention!!! It COULDNT BE! It was always EIN- I specifically remember because I always wondered if it was pronounced EEN or INE

    Captain crunch- Cap’n Crunch!! Ummmmm?

    Daylight Savings day- nope I guess it’s daylight SAVING day?????

    Depends- Depend — yeah the adult diapers no s???

    FEBREEZE- ok guys is FEBREZE now

    The one that I think is the absolute weirdest for me is the location of Australia on the map has completely moved for me. I remember it being more isolated and I looked at the map the other day and couldn’t believe my eyes.

    These are just a few more examples, don’t even get me started on the movie lines that I thought were a different way all along!

  68. KJ Kelly says:

    As both a good speller and a homeschool mom, it is and always was dilemna. When my kids started college and told me about the one space after periods “new” rule, i chalked it up to some journalistic change to save space in newspapers and magazines. Oxford or serial comma rules! I am all for bringing the true spellings back and standing firm on Berenstein (read those books to my children–never read the Berenstain ones), and on Sketchers–my favorite athletic shoe brand, Chic-fil-A not Chick-fil-A ( I remember walking through the mall with my parents in the 1970s and thinking “what does that sign say?” due to the Chic part being odd for me at 5 or 6 years old), and Looney Toons not Looney Tunes–it was bases on cartoons and not music tunes. Also Reba McIntyre not McEntire. sigh……..

    • It is mor probable that even a good speller occasionally has a bad memory than that the entire universe has changed — retroactively — while she was looking somewhere else.

      What makes your feelings about words any more indicative of the “true spellings” than the evidence: the spellings that are truly in dictionaries, and that documentably have been there all along?

  69. alexiou seitcha says:

    I have ALWAYS spelled dilemma with an MN – until a few years ago when spell check caught me.
    I have always been a very good speller – even though my orthography arises from my early fascination with e e cummings. I do however like to spell things correctly. So it was about 3 or 4 years ago that I suddenly noticed that I was spelling dilemma incorrectly and It baffled me greatly. I (very much like the author here) distinctly recalled the n being in the word. I too have looked all over for the reason/s for why this should be and couldn’t find it until most recently I discovered that many others were having the same dilemma dilemna (or vise versa)
    … and here I though I was completely alone in this.
    Now I am going to ask my cousin who won all sorts of spelling bees.

  70. alexiou seitcha says:

    and of course I misspelled thought as though – ugh!

  71. It is spelled dilemna. Time travelers are going back in time and changing words. Yes, time travel is real and I’m not “crazy”. (Crazy people don’t know they’re crazy)

  72. Kin sparks says:

    I cannot believe this i remember vividly spellingbit with the na i know because i thought it was so funny ofva word to spell like that it went right along with the berenstein beats issue they are now saying its berenstain bears but this was one the first long words i was proud of k owing how to spell n i loved the cartoon and the books n now it blows my mind that it is spelled now berenstain omg i cant belive this I WANT ANSWERS! HLAD YO SEE IM NOT ALONE

  73. It has always been dilemna for me. I play word games often and take pride in spelling correctly. I remember this one sfor sure. I lived in Poughkeepsie at one time!!!!!

  74. OMGOSH!!! My world has been throughly shaken as my spellcheck changed the correct spelling (dilemna) to this newfangled double-m. I literally can’t believe “mm” is the correct way. I’m sticking to my alternate universe and continuing on with dilem-na. Thank goodness for you and this absolute superb blog that completely grasped all the emotions I’m feeling!!!!

  75. I, just like you Rachel, was taught to spell it dilemna. When I heard about this dilemna earlier today I immediately asked my husband how he spells the word and he answered “d i l e m N a’.

    I can think of possible reasons why google might not acknowledge that truth. But the fact that half the people commenting on this blog never heard of dilemNa cannot possibly be explained by anything I can think of BUT the alternate universe theory.

    As Sherlock Holmes said to Watson (unless that’s also changed!?) “When you eliminate the impossible, whatever is left, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

    So… alternate universe it is. Now what? Where do we go from here???

  76. April Straughters says:

    Thank you for this post. I thought I was going mad. I always spelled it with an “n” dilemna. It feels right. It looks right. I know I had to learn that from somewhere though. I wouldn’t have made that up, yet you can find that spelling nowhere. It’s so freaky. I spent quite a bit of time with spell check and Google and was so perplexed. I have never seen the word dilemma in my life. It’s the strangest thing. So happy I’m not alone. Feels like the twilight zone though.

  77. Omg! My mum is the 1st person I asked too when I found out the different spelling. I also spell it with the N….and I was ready good at English, so I can’t believe that I would mispell a simple word. Ah the dilemna this is creating. Actually I noticed that there have been other strange differences in my life since I had an accident in 2012. Maybe something happened that night….

  78. If it weren’t for you I would have never understood why I never felt I fit into this double M universe.
    Yet somehow in knowing the truth I don’t feel empowered by it sadly.
    More of a hollow loss for the unknown wonder of the universe of my origin.

    I’m not sure where I learned to spell dilemna as such either.
    My brain categorized the true correct spelling (from our universe) tied to the phonetically sounded out dill-em-nuh in my head. Even though I actually pronounce it and read it as dill-em-uh in my head or out loud.
    My brain just like yours files away the spelling of words under a memory map system of sounds to show me the unexpected spelling so I don;t accidentally misspell it later.

    It had to be something I learned or was taught or read enough times to say “ahah…. dil-em-nah don’t forget!”.

    And I am sure I have read it as dilemma and probably have pondered why it was misspelled so often in type… though this wasn’t always the case I am sure. In fact more often I would have read it as I know it to be or my brain would have dug up this abnormality much earlier then just now.
    A lot of times the editors got it right… or wrong as it were, by the current universes standards. I’m sure the vast majority of times this was true. Though this was most likely due to the authors and or editors being from the alternate universe as well then.
    But how can one be sure of anything anymore?

    Opossums really may have just become possums here also.
    Maybe that one can be chalked up to a general geographical difference in pronounced English.

    Surely dilemna is not so trivial a mistake.

    It makes sense that the memory of how we learned the true spelling was erased at the time of our transfer.
    This way we can use it to determine our true origin and distinguish between one another.

    Seems logical enough.

  79. I have an English degree, from an Ivy league university. I am 41 years old and tonight while working on a document, the template had the word, “dilemma”. I was preparing to email our Director about this mistake when I did this search and found out I am the one mistaken. I k now this article is two years old, but it’s brand new information to me and I am beyond shaken. I am honestly a wordsmith and my friends tease me that I’m “Wordgirl”. How did I not know this. The parallel universe is the only explanation!

  80. Tom Johnson says:

    “Dilemna” is not a Southern thing. I have spent 50 years in Texas and never have heard it spoken here.

  81. (Author) Same thing happened to me! I hate the red squiggly line now telling me I am wrong.
    It’s the Mandela effect! Ugh!!!!

  82. DaMN. M and N do not got together in English, so it must be dilemma. We need a MNemonic to remember the correct spelling. By the way, I too was educated in Illinois in a Catholic grade school, and it was dileMNa. And that is the way that God and the nuns spelled it. So there!

  83. When my spell check grabbed it I just assumed that it was another of those words of which you yanks had changed the spelling. It was always dilemna, just like it was always cheque, and always neighbour.

  84. I just started a new job and got in an argument with the child who was training me about the spelling of dilemNa. (Stop underlining my correct spelling of dilemNa, spell check!!!) I easily let go of the double-space after a sentence because . . . work. But the N in dilemNa? Never.

  85. I was also a spelling bee champ. I was definitely TAUGHT to spell the word “dilemna.” I too always sounded it out in my mind because it was so odd. Maybe the manufacturer of school spelling books made a typo many years ago, and a generation of people were taught the errant spelling.

  86. Richard Dastardly says:

    I am 100% Certain that I read books as a child in which the word was spelled “dilemna”, therefore etching the incorrect spelling into my brain. 100%

  87. Eero Tarik says:

    There are scientist who scan the heavens every day looking for flaws in the universe to prove that it is artificial.
    Here is one of those flaws… I , too, was taught dilemna and was stunned the first time someone told me in my adult life that it was not true.
    I, of course, considered them to be an idiot :-)
    And now the truth is out …. we “dilemna -ists are from another multiverse.

  88. During one of my years in high school I got HIT by this indescribable feeling.

    My entire body, it felt like my entire existence or being was hit by an invisible beam like in star trek (but invisible).

    My entire ‘self’ , physically, from head to toe in a vertical manner,

    My entire self came to this sudden/random epiphany

    I did not belong in this world/universe. I wasn’t SUPPOSED TO EXIST.

    I didn’t feel sad. I was just overwhelmed by shock of some truth that ‘something’ happened like I got misplaced.

    Rather than saying we came from another universe, to the original author/writer of this article, please note that when you say your boyfriend is also from the same universe, in my theory, it’s not that we’re from the same universe, we’re just from the 90’s where dilemma is dilem-NA and pigeon is PID+GEON, and among a few other small things.

    I too am from the ‘world’ of dilem+na.

    Back in 1999-2002, that was the period where I knew pidgeon and dilemna (around 4-5th grade). At the same time, we also used single space in essays like we’re writing books. Single space WAS the norm. This double space crap didn’t start till the 2000’s, the only reason why is so teachers can have empty spaces between lines to write corrections/remarks/notes/etc. Suddenly double space became more and more popular.

    In my theory if the parallel universe thing really does exist, then in actuality it might be ‘multiple’ alternate universes being merged or ‘crossing’ over each other, It’s uncertain whether if they merge permanently or stay temporarily merged, or simply ‘pass’ through each other like bubbles bouncing around your screensaver screen.

Speak Your Mind