"Heighth" Is Not a Word


Another word I’ve grown to dislike: heighth. More accurately, it’s a non-standard pronunciation of “height” designed to make it vaguely rhyme with width and breadth. After all, shouldn’t the vertical equivalent to these also end with the “th” sound?

As it turns out, it once did. The obsolete spelling of height is highth and the obsolete pronunciation ends with the “th” sound. And by obsolete, I mean “went out of fashion in the 15th century.”

Comments (7)
  1. BlakeHandler says:

    You say “po-tay-toe” – I say “po-taw-toe”

    The beauty of a language like Spanish is that the words are “spelled” as they are “pronounced” Spanish Spelling Bees simply are not thrilling.

    English however is a mish-mash of many languages. Our language “tolerates” a wide variety of spelling rules – with an even wider variety of exceptions to those spelling rules.

    “I” before “E” except after “C” – or when sounding like “A” as in “neighbor” and “weigh” – with the exceptions being: weird, feint, foreign, leisure. Huh? You’re OK with that?

    I doubt that you pronounce the “D” in Wednesday, or the first “R” in February –So to allow a particular pronunciation to bother you seems kinda petty.

  2. johnmont says:

    You’re making two arguments: whether English is consistent in its spelling rules and pronunciation rules (it’s not) and whether I should get bothered by a non-standard pronunciation. For the former, I don’t care. For the latter, it’s my pet peeve and I’ll be peeved if I want to. 😉

  3. Xepol says:

    Wouldn’t you spell it "heith"?  You’d have a better argument for it not being a word.

    Here, how about "heith ain’t a wurd"… ain’t wasn’t a word once upon a time, but now has official status because it is in the dictionary.

    Frankly, any phonetic sounds that communicate a meaning is a word, it just might not be an "official" word.  Or rather, it might not be an official word yet.

    English is a living language, and it evolves.  As much as that may annoy traditionalists, it is a fact that you can’t prevent it.  Otherwise, we would still all be using words that fell out of fashion 500 years ago.

  4. somepunk says:

    I think if you’re looking for a vertical equivalent to breadth and width you would be best off with depth.

  5. johnmont says:

    Depth is the Z axis — different thing.

  6. johnmont says:

    Xepol, you didn’t read my last posting on words and the evolving language. Bad, bad commenter. 😉 http://blogs.msdn.com/johnmont/archive/2006/04/05/569607.aspx “This is where a host of people complain that I’m a snobbish elitist purist who doesn’t recognize that language evolves. Of course language evolves. I can still bemoan the loss of some of the colors in the tapestry of language while I try to fathom the new colors being woven in. It makes me sad, however, that all too often the new colors tend to be in gray and beige. And I reserve my right to be a curmudgeon about language, just as I can express frustration that mainstream food all tastes the same or that all big box stores carry the same products.”

  7. After my previous posts on language where several commenters pointed out that language is an evolving…

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