10 of History’s Most Egregious Typos


We’re hoping you’ve seen the screenshots of presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s new smartphone app, but if you haven’t, then let us break the news to you: there’s a really unfortunate misspelling in it. Specifically, he misspells the word “America.” He calls it “Amercia” instead. That’s not good, to say the least, but it’s not the most ridiculous typo we’ve ever seen, and we’re in the business of writing stuff, so we know awful typos when we see them (if we see them, because if we caught all of them on first read-through, then they wouldn’t really be a issue, would they?). Of course, we have our favorites, as all good grammar dorks do, so here are some particularly ridiculous ones plucked from the annals of history for your amusement.

The Wicked Bible

Throughout history the Bible’s been the most transcribed – and as a result, most misspelled – book of all time, and there are hundreds of different names given to the many error-ridden versions. The most famous is referred to as the “Wicked Bible,” in which the commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is accidentally written as “Thou shalt commit adultery.” “Well, if God says it’s okay!” serial cheaters who read this copy in the 17th century exclaimed. Or so we imagine they did.


Sometimes typos create entirely new words, such as in the case of the word “dord,” which mysteriously appeared a 1934 edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary with the definition “density.” It was supposed to read “D or d,” the way density is written in scientific equations. This mistake wasn’t corrected until 15 years later, which just goes to prove that people neglected dictionaries long before the internet made them obsolete.


Speaking of the internet, did you know that “Google” was named for a typo? The search engine was supposed to be named “googol,” a reference to the mathematical term (a 1 followed by 100 zeros), but somebody typed it in wrong when signing up for the domain. On their company history page they say the name is “a play” on googol, but we’re not buying it. Oh well — at least it’s better than the engine’s original name, Backrub, which would not work as well as a verb.

Nome, Alaska

There’s an entire city with a similar history to Google, if you can believe that. Specifically, there’s a theory that the reason it’s called “Nome” is because some British cartographer couldn’t remember the actual name of the town and wrote down “? Name,” and then another mapmaker misread it and labeled it as “C. Nome.” An alternate story suggests that it’s named for a valley near the founder’s hometown in Norway, but we like the typo version better.

Placemaker’s Bible

True to its name, this bible states, “Blessed are the placemakers” instead of “peacemakers.” What’s a placemaker, we wonder? And what’s so special about them? Is it a metaphor? Was this person standing in the back along with the people who thought Jesus said “cheesemakers?”

Dan Quayle

Not all misspellings are written down – sometimes they’re spoken aloud, as in the case of this 1992 debate between Vice President Dan Quayle and a third grader. For some reason, Quayle seemed to think that the word “potato” ended with an “e” (he claims that’s what was given to him by the school), and he refused to let the kid sit down until he added that “e” on the end. Yes, of course, there’s video! We’d like to think Romney took comfort in this, far worse Republican spelling embarrassment in the aftermath of his app error.

Chile’s 50 peso coin

If you thought typos made by politicians were humiliating, then wait until you get a load of this awful typo made by an actual government body! Two years ago, the Chile accidentally released a 50 peso coin that spelled the country’s name without the L, making it “Chiie.” These coins circulated for a year before anyone noticed, and now they’ve become a classic for collectors, much to the embarrassment of the Chilean mint.

Owl Bible

One more bible and we’re done, we promise – this one’s just too wonderfully surreal to ignore. A damaged printing plate was the culprit for this error, which replaced the “n” in “own” with an “l,” causing 1 Peter 3:5 in a 1944 bible to read, “For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their owl husbands.” So the next time you hear some crackpot try to claim that gay marriage will lead to marriage with animals, point them to this verse and tell them that God says it’s okay, as long as you marry an owl (but it has to be male, ladies! Marriage is between an owl and a woman, it says right there).

University of Texas

Having a typo on your commencement ceremony program might just be a bad omen for your future, even if it’s just a misplaced comma. Still, the graduates of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and their families were in for a whole other level of shock when they saw that their school was listed as one of “pubic affairs” instead. According to the university, corrected versions are in the works, but the psychological damage has pretty much already been done.

The Pasta Bible

We lied, just one more “bible!” But this one’s not really about God so it doesn’t count. It’s actually a cookbook, and it featured a recipe that called for “freshly ground black people” instead of “freshly ground black pepper.” Yikes. Enough said.