The fairly reliable practice of using Google to check one's spelling. Not only will Google usually suggest the correct spelling, but it will let you get an idea of how prevalent one's own misspelling is. This gives rise to the Google Common Use Index (GCUI), the ratio of appearances of a particular incorrect spelling versus the correct spelling.
- handfull vs. handful: 26,500/901,000 = 2.9%
- definitly vs definitely: 53,300/3,360,000 = 1.6%
- irregardless vs. regardless: 17,200/3,410,000 = 0.5%
Be careful! It doesn't always work so well:
- Georgia O'Keefe vs. Georgia O'Keeffe: 22,500/30,100 = 74.8%
- supercede vs. supersede: 36,200/163,000 = 22.2% (Google will not suggest the correct spelling)
The GCU ratio has many potential uses, such as the following Chatterbox moment. Robinspoon suggested that spon might be more common (versus spoon) in Canada than other parts of the word. (Why this was proposed is fortunately irrelevant.) Using the versitile tool that is the GCUI, RS was found to be 'correct':
- spon vs. spoon, globally: 77,900/752,000 = 10.35%
- spon vs. spoon, in Canada: 1,480/12,500 = 11.84% ("site:*.ca" appended to query).
There is a certain irony here: Google is itself a misspelling of googol, a mathematical term for 10100 (one followed by 100 zeros). Thus, the string of 'o's at the bottom of the Google search results page. Google's GCUI is a whopping 24,720% — 3,090,000/12,500!