Steadfast and immovable

These envelopes and papers hold perfectly still! They don’t move at all!

I thought of what ought to be an easy way to remember the correct spelling of this word: these things are sold by a stationer, not by a stationar. (The one hitch to this mnemonic is that likely most people who spell it “stationary” also have no idea what a stationer is.)

Now I have a question. I’ll go ask Dictionary.com and be right back.

I’m back. And it turns out that, centuries ago, the word “stationer” came from the word stationary, because publishers, booksellers, and purveyors of writing goods had permanent shops rather than being itinerant vendors. So there you go! Now it should be easy to remember the correct spelling: just think of the origin of the word, then spell it differently!

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10 Responses to Steadfast and immovable

  1. Acheté says:

    In case anyone comes across this post in search of orthographic advice, I’ll spell it out:

    Back in the days when people communicated over long distances using envelopes, postage stamps, and the postal service, writing out letters to each other in longhand, the paper on which they wrote those letters was called stationery.

  2. Jason says:

    I simply remember that -ary indicates an adjective such as imaginary, as opposed to, say, the imaginer or a menagery [sic].

  3. Lili says:

    Oh my. I fear that this is one I may have been guilty of all these years. It also took me a long time to learn to properly spell envelope. And Calendar.

    • zstitches says:

      Calendar is hard. Stationery is one I learned early enough that I’ve never had any difficulty with it (I think I might even have known the adjective vs. noun rule on some subconscious level) but there are a lot of other words I can’t get right until the second try, after Firefox points out I’ve got it wrong.

      I can’t think of any other ways to spell envelope, though. 🙂 Envolope? Envalope?

  4. Jason says:

    Only yesterday, our cousin RC teaching Sunday school used envelope as a verb. The verb is envelop. Thanks Lili!

    I see a lot of ‘seperate,’ ‘definately,’ and ‘use to’ in posts on FB.

  5. Lili says:

    I think I used to spell it “envalope?” Can’t remember b/c I worked hard to unlearn it. And yes. I misspelled definitely for a long time. Finally taught myself that it’s related to “finite” and I can get it right. My childhood journals are also full of “tomarrow” and “wierd”

  6. Stephen says:

    I never had any trouble with any of these. It was just naturally easy. Snicker.

  7. the MomB says:

    I can’t remember which one, but I learned to spell stationery from a teacher emphasizing its correct spelling. And then I taught myself calendar by remembering that it’s different from stationery (I carry all sorts of weird word pairs like that around in my head). Another teacher taught me that there’s *a rat* in the middle of separate. BTW, weird is one of my favorite words–its relatives form an interesting word family–and one whose misspelling is hardest for me to tolerate.

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