Language Tips

Spelling tip of the week – satellite

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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter

In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of spelling tips we will be looking at some of the most commonly misspelled words in English and suggesting ways to improve your spelling.

Many people who look in Macmillan Dictionary for the noun satellite wrongly spell it *satelite.

Satellite owes its double ‘l’ to its origin, the Latin word ‘satelles’ which means ‘attendant’, as well as to the French ‘satellite’ which meant bodyguard or follower. Although the word was sometimes spelled *satelite in the past, the double ‘l’ has been used since the earliest days and soon became predominant.

The combination ‘-ellite’ is very rare in English: satellite is the only word in Macmillan dictionary that ends in this way. ‘-elite’ is pretty rare too: apart from elite itself, the only words ending with this combination are the trade name Bakelite and the artistic term ‘Pre-Raphaelite’.

As we have seen so often in this series, there is no easy way to remember how to spell satellite. It just has to be learned.

You can find some information on why English spelling is so difficult, as well as helpful tips on mastering it here. You can search for other posts in this series using the tag ‘spelling tips’.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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