Judgment-Free Zone

Every couple of months or so, a spelling quiz will make the rounds on Facebook. You know the kind:

Which of these is correct?

  1. Acommodate
  2. Accommodate
  3. Accomodate
  4. Accommoddate

I like these quizzes. They remind me of spelling bees back in grade school which, despite never actually winning (damn you, “supercilious!”), I thoroughly enjoyed. I was making my way through one of these, recently, when I came upon this:

Which of these is correct?

  1. Judgement
  2. Judgemint
  3. Judgment
  4. Judgmint

Today’s Mindy confidently selected “3.” But the Mindy of yesteryear once insisted superciliously—and, rather embarrassingly—that the answer was “1.”

I was temping as a secretary—one of the many jobs I had while in college—at a law firm. The paralegal asked me to type up a letter that required me to use the word “judgment” several times. I developed what I considered to be the “Moby Dick” of letters—it may, I thought, have been the single best letter ever to grace the offices of that particular law firm—and I was still mentally congratulating myself when the paralegal came over to me with the word “judgement” circled several times in red.

I don’t remember how the conversation went, exactly, but I do know that I proceeded to make an ass out of myself. “I know how to spell ‘judgement,’” I likely announced. “How could I be a 20-year-old English major and not know how to spell ‘judgement’?”

But when the paralegal returned a few minutes later with a dictionary, all that vehemence and self-righteousness dissipated, along with a little piece of my dignity. Turns out, “judgement” is a “variant spelling” of the preferred word, “judgment.” (Unless you’re in England. Which we weren’t.)

That day was a lesson in humility for me. Today, if someone disagrees with me on a grammar point, I look it up—even if I’m “certain” of the answer.

So how about you? Have you ever been so certain of something that you argued passionately and loudly for your point of view, only to realize you were wrong? Share your story!

Word of the Week: Supercilious
Song of the Week: “The Judgement,” by Elvis Costello (he’s English, so it’s okay)


  1. Jerry Jonckheere says

    My Worderloo was maintainence vs maintenance. I was sure that I had seen it that way before AND it made sense AND it was before autocorrect (which, BTW, is wrong as often as it is right).

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