26th October 2020
Spelling Tips: Minuscule or Miniscule?
Is a tiny spelling mistake “minuscule”? Or should it be a “miniscule” mistake? Let’s look at how to use this term correctly in your writing.
What Does Minuscule Mean?
The adjective “minuscule” describes something extremely small or negligible:
Compared with an elephant, a mouse is minuscule.
My office is minuscule, no bigger than a cupboard.
There was a minuscule risk of infection.
The “minus” at the start of “minuscule” comes from the same Latin root as the word “minus.” And while “minus” means “subtract” in English, it meant “less” in Latin. This is why it is related to smallness in “minuscule.”
The Error: Miniscule
Many people misspell “minuscule” as “miniscule,” with a second “i” instead of a “u.” This is because “mini” means “small” (e.g., miniskirt, minicomputer). People then naturally assume the correct spelling is “miniscule.”
However, as noted above, this word should be “minuscule,” with the “minus-” at the start coming from a Latin term meaning “less”:
Forensics found a miniscule amount of blood at the scene. ✗
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Forensics found a minuscule amount of blood at the scene. ✓
With his miniscule earnings, he could hardly afford the rent. ✗
With his minuscule earnings, he could hardly afford the rent. ✓
Because “miniscule” is such a common spelling mistake, some dictionaries now list it as a variant spelling of “minuscule.” But most style guides still consider “miniscule” an error, so it is best to always use “minuscule”!
Summary: Minuscule or Miniscule?
“Minuscule” is an adjective meaning “very small” or “negligible in degree.”
Many people misspell this word as “miniscule.” And some dictionaries now list this as a variant spelling. However, most people still consider the “mini-” spelling an error, so you should stick to “minuscule” in formal writing.
To avoid this mistake, remember that the “minus” in “minuscule” comes from a Latin word meaning “less.” And for more help with your spelling, why not submit a free trial document to our proofreaders?
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