My three-year-old daughter got the latest issue of Sesame Street Magazine – great mag, by the way – the other day, which included a page or two revolving around a TV character named “Pinky Dinky Doo,” who uses in each episode a “great big, fancy word.” The word in this particular case was “miniscule.” (Note the second i.)

“Gee,” I thought, “they introduce a big word to the kids and then consistently misspell it. How unfortunate. On the other hand, everybody has an off day now and then.”

Flash forward a week or so to today, when I check out Cecil’s Straight Dope column, wherein CA writes, . . .there’s no real reason to think some amount of it, however miniscule, won’t come back through the tap.

Hmmm, curiouser and curiouser. Now the Perfect Master is doing it. Have I missed a memo or something? Checking it out on www.m-w.com, I see that it is a variant that now occurs commonly in published writing, but it continues to be widely regarded as an error.

OK, so either “miniscule” is now perceived as legitimate, or Little Ed mis-edited Cecil’s writing (again). Which is it? Anybody know?


It’s listed in several dictionaries as a variant. I expect it happened because of the ‘mini’ in ‘miniature’, which is a related concept, even though it arises from a completely different root word.

Minuscule comes from the Latin *minus *(small)
Miniature comes from the Latin *minium *(red lead oxide) - referring to a particular type of painting, which coincidentally happened to be small.

Dictionries are full of such variants/varuants

I’ll be darned. I’ve never before seen the minuscule spelling, not that it’s a very common word. Some folks even stress the middle syllable (min-ISK-yule.) I continue to learn. I was over 50 before I learned I had been messing up “epitaph.” :smack:

Millennium is another word has a few variations, whether you agreed with it or not.