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Hi,

I'm a little confused when spelling the word "accidently" vs accidentally. Some dictionaries accept both spellings and then I read somewhere that "accidently" is not a correct way to spell it. Any thoughts?

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Comments  (Page 3) 
While it may be appropriate to use a common, originally incorrect, version of a word with your peers. On a professional sense, it will prove detrimental. Use a dictionary certified for use in universities such as The Oxford English Dictionary.
I think either way would be fine... I've spelled it both ways!
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Hi,

Why would you spell something two different ways?

I'd be surprised to find 'accidently' used by an educated person.

Clive
Agree wholeheartedly, Futurist. Webster's, for example, is famous for admitting misspellings and slang. That's because they pride themselves on their descriptivist approach. i.e. they intend their guide to reflect common usage. Not to prescribe proper use.

And while I believe in the changing nature of language and the evolution of words, I don't believe that ignorance is a valid driver of that change.

Also, allow me to second the recommendation of Garner's book. Very thorough and well thought through. A valuable resource for anybody who works with, teaches, or otherwise thinks about words and grammar.
Ha, just a second ago I was thinking of posting a similar question and I found all the answers here. By the way, is there any way I can subscribe to old threads so that I could keep them all together and look them up from my profile any time I want?
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For all the word gurus.......
I spelled accidently in an e-mail and realized that it didn't look right. It must be my age related forgetfulness. As per Ms. Franklin, you can spell it accidentally or accidently. Last year my tenth grade son tried to convince me that conversate was actually a word. I almost fell over. He told me that it was in the dictionary.
I disagree with the advice above that one should pick a dictionary and use it as the ultimate guide to one's spelling. Dictionaries are descriptive documents. If a misspelt word is common enough, it will find its way into a dictionary somewhere, but that doesn't necessarily make that word immediately acceptable to educated readers
And yet this is how many "American" versions of English words came about.

Color (Colour) being a good example
Spelt is unacceptable in my American book, so potato, tomato.
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'Accidently' is a word. People use it to communicate, whether in written or spoken form, and therefore it is a word. Dictionaries only record the language as it is used, which is given to change. There is no unchanging standard for what is a 'correct' word; all languages morph over time. What is 'correct' changes with it. For example, an exquisitely formal speech written today would, without a doubt, be considered to be riddled with errors if it were written in Elizabethan England. This thread is only discussing whether the word is formally correct for modern formal usage.
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