Tuesday, 18 December 2012


 ‘You can’t help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn’t spell it right; but spelling isn’t everything. There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn’t count’.

Rabbit of Owl in AA Milne, The House at Pooh Corner, chapter 5

Tuesday is derived from the name of the Germanic sky god Tiw, a word which is ultimately related to the Latin word deus ‘god’.  It was used to replace the Roman name for the third day of the week, Martis dies, the day of Mars (the origin of French Mardi).  The decision to replace the Roman god Mars with Tiw was probably motivated by their common association with war.  The word was spelled Tywesdæg in Old English; in Middle English there were numerous variations, including tiwersday, thuisday and tisedai.  Looking through the list of over 100 variant spellings cited by the OED, including twisday, teysday, tyousday, it’s easy to agree with Rabbit that being able to spell Tuesday is an impressive feat.  

The most common misspelling of this word today is Teusday: a form which is defended in Urban Dictionary as an acceptable alternative.  One definition states ‘It’s usually a misspelling, but it doesn’t have to be anymore’, while another claims it as an ‘Alternate spelling for Tuesday that better people use’.  The band of librarians responsible for the blog ‘Typo of the day’ would disagree.  In a post from November 2010 they declared war against incorrect spellings of Tuesday such as Teusday, Tusday, Tueday and Truesday.  But spellings like these are not simply the result of careless typists or the more relaxed attitude to spelling found online; the publication of C.S. Lewis’s letters revealed that he regularly spelled this word Teusday.  Perhaps Lewis’s wide reading in Medieval literature meant that he was deliberately reviving an earlier spelling, or perhaps he agreed with Owl that there are some days when spelling Tuesday correctly just doesn’t matter.

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