A PowerPoint slide filled my desktop, as I typed DILEMNA across the screen in big, bold letters. When I saw the squiggly red underline make its defiant mark below the word, I was confused. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I had spelled it correctly. It was one of those weird words like COLONEL, PHLEGM or DEPOT. It must have multiple, acceptable spellings because that's how I learned it in school, and I had never heard otherwise.
So I checked the suggested spellings. Only DILEMMA came up.
There was a glitch in the matrix...
Did I dream up this completely random spelling for this word that I have been using unchecked my whole life?
Google will vindicate me.
Then things got even weirder. First, I discovered I am not alone. There is actually a dilemna.info site out there. The UFO people have their site, and now I have mine. Here are the main takeaways:
Most likely, millions of people spell the word with an N. And, like me, they are astounded when they discover the truth.
"From the hundreds of comments received here it seems that the Dilemna with an 'N' spelling spreads across many generations from 15 to 90+ year olds and right across the world - every English speaking nation seems affected! This site alone attracts visitors from over 50 different countries." (dilemna.info)
This is from the Collins Dictionary:
Notice the origin of the word? The second part is from the Ancient Greek word LEMMA. There has never been any alternative spelling of the word!
My coworker graduated a few years after I did from the same city. He has always spelled it DILEMMA, and he was surprised to hear that I thought it was any different. So I went around and asked 15 other people in my office. Nine of them thought it was spelled with an N.
So where did we all learn this completely incorrect spelling? There are conspiracy theories if you are interested. I just think this whole phenomenon is fascinating. When I meet somebody new, I'm going to ask them how they spell dilemma (it still feels funny spelling it that way).
If you are a Dilemna-nite like myself, I'm sorry to have completely shaken your world. Just know you are not alone. I'd love to get your comments.