from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The use of nonstandard spellings, such as enuff for enough or wuz for was, to indicate that the speaker is uneducated or using colloquial, dialectal, or nonstandard speech.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun uncountable The deliberate use of nonstandard spellings to indicate that the speaker uses a nonstandard or dialectal speech, even though the spelling is pronounced the same way as the original word.
  • noun this sense?) (uncountable) The written representations of dialect speech in which words are spelled in a manner which indicates a non-standard pronunciation.
  • noun countable A set of such nonstandard spellings, collectively used to reflect a certain form of speech.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the use of misspellings to identify a colloquial or uneducated speaker


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From eye + dialect. First used by George P. Krapp in The English Language in America (1925) in reference to written dialogue that uses nonstandard spelling but doesn't indicate an unusual pronunciation.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word eye dialect.


    Sorry, no example sentences found.


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • What's the etymology for this?

    December 1, 2010

  • I ask because according to Wikitionary's usage notes, "The term eye dialect may have a negative connotation; pronunciation spelling, respelling, or pronunciation respelling may be considered more neutral."

    January 10, 2011

  • Even after bouncing around over on Wiktionary, I'm not entirely sure I understand this term correctly. There is a lack of examples. Would writing "coff" for "cough" be considered an example of "eye dialect".

    *Coffs nervously, feeling stewpid, hoping that someone will provide further clarification*

    June 7, 2011

  • Is "eye dialect" pronouncing words the way they are spelled (like coinkidink or spelling words the way they are pronounced (like wanna). I think it's the latter.

    I think the origins of the term lie in attempts to convey something perceived as "dialect" in writing, especially attempts in the 19th century to convey forms of English associated with minorities (African Americans, South Asians, Chinese), with the result that certain spellings became emblematic of illiteracy, naivety, etc. The idea was to find a visual representation of oral non-standard speech, hence "eye dialect."

    June 7, 2011