My Collection of Funniest Typos – updated regularly

Every now and then, in my job as a proofreader, I come across a typo that makes me laugh out loud or elicits a ‘Whhhhaaaaaat?!’ – when the author accidentally writes something that ends up having a meaning they really did not intend.  I got the idea for this post while reviewing the work of my author sister, novelist Terry Tyler Terry Tyler’s Books, who said that when writing at speed and getting involved with the story, it’s so easy to type something that you simply can’t believe you did. (Which is another reason not to use that old false friend spellcheck, by the way, because these are mostly genuine words, just in the wrong place.)

D'oh

I’ve been keeping a list (and I wish I’d started it earlier, I’ve seen some absolute lulus!) I thought I’d share them here for your amusement, and they are all strictly anonymous – I will not reveal my sources. But I and the authors concerned have shared a laugh over their mistakes, and it just proves something that I always maintain, i.e. that one cannot effectively proofread one’s own work. My thanks go to all who (initially unintentionally!) contributed.

 What they wroteWhat they meantWhat it looks like
1On the lambOn the runSitting on a young sheep
2It’s a bad wrapI’ve been wrongfully accusedI don’t like my lunch order
3VualáVoilàI don’t know even basic French, and I didn’t bother to Google it
4Dough-eyedDoe-eyedEyes like pastry?
5Martin atmosphereMartian atmosphereHello, Mr Atmosphere
6A small vile of liquidA small vial, or glass container, of liquidThis liquid’s really nasty!
7Leaning against the door jamDoor jambThey make jam out of doors?! Rather woody taste.
8The muscles in his neck were taughtTautWhat did they learn?
9He was tempted to eat a second desertGimme some of that ice creamYou going to eat all that sand?
10On the left was yellow, arid dessertDesertI’d rather have the strawberry cheesecake
11The judge halted the trailOh, the trial!What, the Appalachian Trail?
12She worked in a stationary shopShe worked in a stationery shopIt didn’t move around, then?
13I will stay away from you and your elkI don’t like you or your friendsKeep that great brute away from me!
14Two policemen were peeing through the window.Peering (I hope!)Surely they could arrest each other for that?
15Doug came from Manchester, and spoke with a strong Manchurian accent.MancunianOh, he was Anglo-Chinese, was he?
16You know what they say, a room wasn’t built in a day!RomeWhy not? (And they don’t!)
17You could melt butter with the heath between my thighs (from an erotic novel)Heat (although there are better ways to soften butter)Way too many weird mental images right now!
18The rent was dewDueThe fairy folk pay my rent
19There were two centuries guarding a gateSentriesOkay, I give up!
20She practised sign language with her two dead colleaguesDeafSounds like a bit of a waste of time
21Don’t talk such uniformed nonsenseUninformedI prefer my nonsense to be dressed casually
22We passed our time in gentile conversationGenteelWe didn’t talk about any Jewish people
23She was wearing black patient leather shoesPatentA change from her usual irritable footwear
24He’s regarded as an danger to the pubicPublicWatch out for those sensitive areas, lads
25My knees trebled in anticipationTrembledLadies and gentlemen, put your hands together for Mr Six-Knees!
26He attended Greenwich Navel Collage, also It looked like the scene of a navel battleNaval CollegeAh, a collage of belly-buttons!
27Henry left the martial homeMaritalPresumably because it’d turned into a war zone
28She spent a lot of time sawing her own clothesSewingShabby chic?
29Sand out the armed guards!SendSmooth out their rough edges, har har!
30The Baby Jesus was laid in a managerMangerSounds a bit uncomfortable for both of them.
31While lambs gambled in the sunGambolledOK, everyone, aces are high, deuces are wild!
32Angus DeiAgnus DeiA Scotsman favoured by God
33A barmy hot nightBalmyWhat a crazy night that was
34I heard a woman whalingWailingThere she blows!
35Ma trademaître d’Yes, it took me a while to work out what he meant
36(To a patient in a fertility clinic) ‘You may wish to consider freezing your seamen for the future’.SemenSounds like conditions in the navy are very harsh these days!
37The ground was rhymed with frostRimedNo it wasn’t, it rhymes with ‘sound’.
38I used to love our post-colitis conversationsPost-coitalTalking about inflammation of the bowel and rectum doesn’t sound like fun to me.
39He stained his ears in the darknessStrainedWhat colour?
40He picked up a tight-fitting green shit and pulled it over his headShirtYeugh!

77 thoughts on “My Collection of Funniest Typos – updated regularly

  1. Am I the only one who’s only discovered the ‘desert’ one 6 months after a book is published???!! This was before Julia proofread my books, I hasten to add! If anyone has read ‘Dream On’, they may have spotted it….

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  2. It’s great that there is humour in a job that requires such attention to detail, Julia. Because I use voice-activated software that always puts in real words, although not necessarily the right ones, and has such fun with homonyms I often find myself giggling at a heart-rending emotional scene, I have to be extra careful with mine – but quite often blog comments and tweets come with glaring errors – I suppose it’s a good exercise in tolerating shame.

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    • I imagine you have to be very careful with voice-activated software. I remember my ex-boyfriend, who had a French accent, using that – now that was fraught with all sorts of possibilities! And I have to be super-careful with my blog posts and tweets, for obvious reasons.

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      • I am reminded of the fake-French-accented Lorette Voleur in the movie The Beverly Hillbillies, intently telling Jed Clampett that ‘a penis is hard to find”… Yes, she meant “Happiness is hard to find,” but Jed and the audience heard differently!

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      • Although it trains to different accents, after more than ten years mine still struggles with my Cumbrian vowels. Nice one, Pat, not stumbled into anything like that yet – at least not to my knowledge.

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  3. I love this Julia, so entertaining! My best boob was when I was working as a PA for The Institute of Chartered Accountants and typed: ‘We were given completely access to Mr A****’s flies’. Should have been ‘files’ …. The other one wasn’t quite as embarrassing but still irritating, as my computer kept turning ‘Gladstone’ into ‘gallstones’ when I was doing my English A-level.

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  4. I love a good typo! Great list, Julia. My tip-top favourite I’ve found when proofreading is “Discretion is the better part of velour.” So smooth…

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  5. Oh these have made me laugh so much, Julia. I could very easily make some of these mistakes when I’m typing fast too! I love the ‘small vile of liquid’…

    One typo I read recently was not like these, it was a real spelling mistake and occurred three times in the same (professionally edited) book! It was ‘exhuberance’. I had huge fun coming up with meanings for that one 🙂 Another one I loved was made by one of my non English uni students. He wrote about getting a distinction for his international Bachelorette. I nearly ruined a laptop keyboard over that one. He actually meant Baccalaureat, the high school diploma..

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  6. Thanks! Good ones. You are right…you can’t proofread your own work. I look back at my first published book & find a glaring mistake that the editor and myself both missed! I can’t remember exactly what it is at the moment…but it seems like the word “refrigerator” was just sitting in the middle of a sentence for no reason!

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  7. In the days when we were encouraged to send our handwritten reports to the local council’s ‘Word-Processing Unit’, rather than type them ourselves, I often had the word ‘deprived’ in my reports come back as ‘depraved’. Luckily I managed to spot it each time it was circulated to others, including council committees (or at least I think I did)!

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  8. Pingback: Interview with Julia Gibbs | A Lover of Books

  9. Pingback: 10 Funniest Typos (updated!) | Fragmented Mind

  10. Love this! I’ve recently seen ‘bare with me’, and ‘so fart’ instead of ‘so far’. Typos usually make me grin, though but don’t get me started on howling grammar mistakes in books!

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  11. It’s a shame you made me laugh out loud, as I’ve got a cough.

    My favourite still, although from a report rather than a book, is the chap who confused prostate and prostrate. I’ve never been able to work out quite what he was thinking, because neither was appropriate in the context.

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    • I love it! I noticed advertising posters in my local Morrisons this morning about their charity projects – one offered ‘used coffee grinds’ to gardeners, and the other talked about someone playing a ‘ukalele’. Why don’t these people just look up the word if they’re not sure?

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  12. In a previous life, I ran a business as a court reporter and legal transcriber, with three people doing the first runs, which i’d then proofread. One of them heard “errors and omissions insurance,” but typed it as “Arizona missions insurance.”

    Also, in my first novel, I left a deliberate typo in … twice: misplaced the space in “Got it.” Lots of readers thought it was an accident; others had the appropriate chuckle.

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  13. I was reading “Charlie Dickens” by Philip Ardagh. I noticed that his arch-villain had a Business Manger. I was going to point this out to the great man but realised: this is a Philip Ardagh book, why wouldn’t he entrust his business affairs to a horse trough? I even got a “good man” response from Mr Ardagh on Twitter.

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  14. NIce one! I’ve come across that one before, and it’s easily done of course. When I spotted it in a book I was working on, I did an immediate search and found it occurred 3 times!

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  15. One I just remembered. A European restaurant in Boston, Massachusetts, had the slogan, “The Best Incontinental Cuisine.” I told the owner about it and he added the appropriate space, had to reprint all his menus. Ah, well.

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  16. Just proofread a charity report – Didn’t anyone pick up that their ‘Know your Normal’ campaign really ought to have bee ‘Know You’re Normal.’ Hmm. Tempted to ask them Know your Normal what?

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  17. Brilliant, Julia. A proof-reader is essential to publishing a good-quality book. My goof is ‘wondering’ when the character should have been ‘wandering’! I’m sure I’ve had many more! I loved the one practising sign language with their dead friends – that really made me giggle! Keep up the good work.

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  18. I laughed out loud. Very cute but horrifying for the authors. As an author, I know those kinds of things are horrifying. It’s because the editing, spelling, word differentiation, side of our brain is on the left. But the creative story telling side is on the right. That’s also why we cannot proof our own work. When I read my story the right side switches on again and I read what I intended to write. Not what I actually wrote. Proofreaders and editors are worth their weight in gold. As are story doctors.

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