Beware the Imp of Autocorrect

Beware the Imp of Autocorrect

Sorry I’ve been away for a while. Apart from having to be busy with other things, I’ve written a couple of things that ran aground. It’s not that you wouldn’t have liked them — I didn’t, so I didn’t let them out. Maybe later.

I discovered part of the reason I was having trouble with what I was writing when I got an e-mail the other day. It began “Dear Mary.”

It was from someone I knew and referred to something I needed to do. But Mary? I replied to it “in case it’s really for me.” It was.

The Imp of Autocorrect had revealed himself at last. (That’s his great-granddad with a pen in the image accompanying this.)

The Imp of Autocorrect thought my correspondent couldn’t possibly mean Margaret, so he made the message to Mary. Maybe my correspondent didn’t spell my name out and stopped it at Marg — no, at least in Chicago Now’s software, I got away with leaving off at the “g.”

But now that I know the Imp’s around, I didn’t want to try the same error twice.

But what if you WANT an unusual spelling? How about if I decide that my novel needs a character called Ch-e-i-f? I just had to use the hyphens to get around the Imp’s ability to turn the word into Chief.

What about foreign spellings, Imp? Does raison d’etre lose its raison d’etre, or reason to be? No, but I just had the Imp straighten out the English “reason” — and “just,” too.

So the Imp of Autocorrect has his uses, and some days, he has his work cut out for him. But watch out for the little guy — he can do damage to what you want to write.


Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.

Filed under: Writing


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  • If you have Word, you can attach a French proofing list. You can also add the weird spelled character names to the dictionary, although then it won't flag them when you want the actual chief.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks for the tips, Jack, and as always, thanks for stopping by.

  • great post!

    I wonder how someone got around autocorrect to type unpresidented...

    Apparently, Apple has a problem with autocorrect and prescription drug names--the confusion could have disastrous consequences. But they are fixing it now. Here is the story---

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Thank you. Unpresidented works for me -- I guess Imp is hibernating, or maybe it was expected as a word. What a thought.
    Thanks for the link to an important story.

  • Excellent post! Was Poe aware of this happening when he wrote "The Imp of the Perverse"?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Thank you! I suppose Poe was more aware of imps like the little lad in the illustration, but it's a big family, from "The Imp of the Perverse" to RLS's "The Bottle Imp." (You knew I'd get Louis in here somehow, right?)

  • Oh, you've hit on one of my peeves! Is the imp of autocorrect related to the sock thief? And what about the invisible sprite who likes to nibble on the stomach parts of t-shirts that are folded up in my dresser drawers?

  • In reply to folkloric:

    Oh good, fellow peeved folkloric! I think he must be related to the sock thief somehow. And is the sprite the one who's making waistlines shrink in my apartment, too? Is there a Sprites' and Imps' Room opening soon in your imagination to go with the Writers' Room in mine? I hope so!

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