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5 Words That Were Invented by Accident

The English language is full of words that were actually born out of errors. See our five favorite everyday words that started out by mistake.

Sneeze:  It was originally spelled with an F, not an S—as in ‘fneze’. Why the change? People often misread the long old-school lowercase f as the old-fashioned long S character.

Algorithm:  The original Medieval Latin version of this word, ‘algorismus’, was named after a famous Arab mathematician. Algorithm is actually just a bad translation of his last name, ‘al-Khwarizmi’.

Nickname:  A secondary or unofficial name in the late Middle Ages was an ‘ekename’—which literally meant “also-name.” Frequent references to “an ekename” eventually turned into “a nickname.”

Tornado:  This is actually a mistaken rendering of the Spanish term ‘tronada’, which means ‘thunderstorm’. Over time, speakers switched the “r” and “o,” creating the modern word tornado.

Apron:  In the Middle Ages, the French called it a ‘naperon’. But once English speakers adopted the word, the phrase “a napron” often blended together.  Thus, “a napron” became “an apron,” instead—and we have spelled it that way ever since.