Our ancestors tended to be…. shall we say…. “creative” spellers. When we’re indexing or transcribing, we need to preserve that. But when it comes to our own words, we’re supposed to get it right.
There are some words in genealogy that trip up everyone. Here are three words that I often see misspelled, along with two pairs of words that are often mixed up — and how I keep them straight in my mind. (Note: I’m not claiming that my methods are particularly witty or poetic, just that they help me remember!)
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It’s not geneology. The root of the first part of the word is “genea,” so they drop the “o” off of “ology.” Yes, it looks weird, but that’s how it is. Remember it like you want to do well — you want to get an “A” in genealogy.
It’s not cemetary. (It makes me sad to see this misspelled on cemetery signs.) Someone taught me a long time ago that “Alive begins with A and there’s nothing alive in a cemetery.” (Technically, that’s not true, but it does help with the spelling.)
It’s not copywrite (or copy right or even copyrite). Remember that it deals with the right to copy something.
4. Calvary vs. Cavalry
Both of these words are correctly spelled; they’re just mixed up a lot. Calvary is a place. Cavalry is a military unit with horses or tanks. Your great-grandfather didn’t serve in the 4th Calvary; he served in the 4th Cavalry. If you know the word “cavalcade,” think of an army. Or, think of how “cav” sounds like “calf,” which is an animal. (Again, I never said these were particularly witty!)
5. Grantor vs. Grantee
If you work with land records, you have to keep these straight. Grantors sell; grantees buy. Or, put another way, the grantor is the sell-or and the grantee is the buy-ee. (Yes, it’s silly, but it helps keep them straight!)
What genealogy words trip you up? Maybe we came think of a way to remember it!