How To Spell 'Diarrhoea' Correctly

The spelling is almost as unpleasant as the experience itself. 'Diarrhoea' is one of those words that makes you very grateful that spellcheck facilities exist.

Picture by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images

Our regular oracle on spelling matters for Australians, the Macquarie Dictionary, favours the spelling 'diarrhoea', though it notes 'diarrhea' as an alternative. (It originates from the Greek word 'diarrhoia', meaning "a flowing through", though etymology is rarely a helpful guide to modern spelling or meaning.)

Either way, the key element to remember is the double-R followed by an H. This is difficult precisely because it's not a letter combination we regularly encounter in English, so you have to chalk it up as something you need to memorise despite an apparent lack of logic. One possible trick? Use the mnemonic "really, really hurts" to keep that sequence in your mind.

Incidentally, the definition supplied in the Macquarie also serves as a reminder that dictionary compilers don't always put an emphasis on clarity when it comes to meaning:

An intestinal disorder characterised by morbid frequency and fluidity of faecal evacuations.

The appearance of 'faeces' I can live with, but 'morbid'? It might be clinically accurate, but it doesn't help explain anything.

Lifehacker's Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.


    Slow news day? Although I'll remember the "rrh" mnemonic so ... um, thanks.

    Lifehacker really is an excellent source of such a diverse range of information.

    No - it is actually spelt I R O N Y.

    Yesterday we had how to clean bird poop off you, today how to spell diarrhoea. I love

    Reminds me of a spelling bee way back. I overheard one kid say with disappointment: "Man, I almost had diarrhoea!" Too funny.

    I think in this context its meant to be considered together....morbid frequency and fluidity...morbid is used to indicate disease (something not usual for the body...pooing a lot more than normal).

      ... or maybe gruesome or even grisly, perhaps even extreme? Either way, morbid is a lovely word.

    It just came to me, no, not diarrhoea but the entire mnemonic. Really Really Hurts On Exiting Arsehole. Or if you prefer the American spelling you can leave out the superfluous on and use Ass.

      You remind me of another mnemonic which I think was from a Lifehacker comment for a different story - "Do in a rush, run home, or expect accident"

    spoiler in the title... didn't even need to click through

    D - I - A - R - Running Horribly Out Every Arse

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