Welcome to the Wordlady blog!

This blog is about the fascinating, fun, and challenging things about the English language. I hope to entertain you and to help you with problems or just questions you might have with spelling and usage. I go beyond just stating what is right and what is wrong, and provide some history or some tips to help you remember. Is something puzzling you? Feel free to email me at wordlady.barber@gmail.com.
You can also order my best-selling books, Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to do With Pigs and Only in Canada You Say. Fun and informative!


Subscribe! Fun facts about English delivered weekly right to your inbox. IT'S FREE! Fill in your email address below.
Privacy policy: we will not sell, rent, or give your name or address to anyone. You can unsubscribe at any point.

Follow by email

Search This Blog

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Royal Nupt*als

Even Wordlady is hopping aboard the Royal Wedding bandwagon. My homage to Prince William and Kate (with whom I share a pet name) is to warn you against misspelling and mispronouncing "nuptial". Yes you read that right, it's nuptial, not nuptual. It comes from the Latin word nuptiae (wedding). As happened with nuclear, people have been perhaps influenced by words with similar, but not exactly the same, endings (as in "conceptual" and "voluptuous"). Although there are many fairly common words in English ending in -tial (circumstantial, preferential, confidential, credential, partial, etc.), with which no one has any problems, "nuptial" is the only one ending in -ptial, other than the word "preceptial", which I bet you don't use a lot. So what we would like to wish the happy couple is all the best on the occasion of their "NUPsh'lls".


  1. Hello,

    Two questions:

    1. Has "nuptiae" anything to do with "night" ?

    2. The "-tial" suffix is no surprise, but where does the "p" come from ?


  2. I should have explained that a linguist friend had once asked me what that process might have been, that turned "k"-sounds (or "qu"-sounds into "p"s in Romanian. One such example occurs with the word for "night".

    That's why I asked if "nuptial" was related to "night" (plausible, perhaps), for it would show a similar phenomenon outside Romanian.


  3. Wow! I didn't know that! Guess it's time to stop priding myself on my spelling.


About Me

My photo
Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber is an expert on the English language and a frequent guest on radio and television. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her witty and informative talks on the stories behind our words are very popular. Contact her at wordlady.barber@gmail.com to book her for speaking engagements; she can tailor her talks to almost any subject. She is also available as an expert witness for lawsuits.