How many ways are there to spell the word scissors? Even accounting for typical misspellings, we were hard-pressed to come up with more than four variations. Fortunately, there is a better authority on the subject, who lists no fewer than 240 ways to spell the word.
Author T.T. Barrow of Enfield, England wrote “To the Curious.” Originally written in 1829 and published in an 1895 issue of The Picture Magazine, Barrow’s article claims that this word appears capable of more variations than any other in the English language. If noted that he could expand the list to 480 variations by substituting ‘z’ for ‘s.’
Barrow notes that he could come up with more than 480 variations, but refrained from listing them in the article. He wrote, “I am aware of many others but most of them are objectionable…”
Barrow’s standard of “objectionable” is rather nebulous, to say the least. Among his accepted spellings are such monstrosities as ciszures, seyzserz, and syzzyrs. We are rather curious about the variants that he found inappropriate for use.
Having thus dazzled his reading audience with a list of the different ways to spell this infinitely-flexible word, Barrow chose to wax eloquently about the philosophical implications of his findings. At least, that’s what we think he’s doing. In all honesty, we don’t have the foggiest notion of what point he is trying to drive home:
If any person should feel a longing desire to be an author; instead of lighting the fire of contention, and abusing his neighbours to his own detriment, let him try his hand at Scissars.
If engaged in writing for the amusement of the Public and cannot refrain from introducing subjects which may be prejudicial to the morals of the rising generation, had he not much better write nothing but Scissers.
Is he a Politician and desirous of instructing us in an incomparable method of paying off the National Debt, he may as well cut it short with Scissirs.
If he be studying to surprise the world with a fine spun string of nothings, intending to subvert the Christian Religion, I would advise him first to try Scissors.
If any other subject engage his attention, it will always be a very safe and adviseable plan to consider if at any future more serious moment he might not be inclined to wish he had written nothing but Scissurs.
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I was tempted to write about all the different ways to spell “restaurant,” based on the fact that I can never remember the correct way to do so.
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