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"I" Before "E" Exceptions
Thanks to Alan Marchand for submitting the initial
text and list below.
If you know of other exceptions, please send them to me!
This list is based upon a "rule" that I learned as a student of junior high school English:
"I before E except after C; exceptions are either, neither,
foreign, leisure, protein, seize, and weird."
This list of rule exceptions strikes me as being woefully inadequate. To get the ball rolling, I am offering some additional entries, as follows. Some of the foregoing have their origins in other languages [e. g., treillage (French), leitmotiv (German), etc.]. Nevertheless, these words appear in English dictionaries, so they qualify for inclusion in the list of exceptions below. If names are included we can add Keith, Sheila, and Neil. Note that the opposite also applies: the words "sufficient" and "ancient" have "ie" after a "c."
Acleisanthes (a genus of desert plants)
caffeine (and also decaffeinated)
cheiloplasty (lip reduction)
cheiloscopy (lip prints)
cheilosis (disease caused by riboflavin deficiency)
cleidomastoid (collar bone)
cysteine (a semi-essential proteinogenic amino acid)
deism, deist, deity
eider (as in waterfowl)
eidetic (photographic memory)
eigenvalue (and also eigenmode)
eight (and related numbers, such as 1/8, 1/80, 18, 80...)
leiomyoma (uterine fibroid)
Pleiades (star cluster)
reinforce, reinstall, preinstall, reincarnation, reinvent, reinstate, reinstitute
(plus any other "re-in" words such as "reignited" with the "e" and "i" in adjacent syllables)
seigniorage (or seigneurage, if you prefer)
seine (as in "net")
seize, seized, seizure
sleight (of hand)
treillage (as in "trellis")
veil, veiled, unveiled
zeitgeist (bonus double exception!)
More from Alan:
My English teacher taught me well
A rule designed to help me spell
All words that range from A to Z
With 'I' 'fore 'E 'cept after 'C.'
This simple phrase, you'll be so kind,
To ever after bear in mind
And thus ensure the right decision
When writing words with great precision.
Santa's reindeer deign to neigh
When faced with overloaded sleigh.
An ancient species, gone astray,
Shall ever on my conscience weigh.
I could continue in this vein
As long as mass confusion reigns.
Another rule of thumb, I'd say,
That feisty neighbors oft inveigh.
This poem by Jef Raskin includes several dozen exceptions:
"I before E
Except after C,
Unless pronounced A
As in 'neighbor' or 'weigh'"
Education is forfeit for reinforcing such rules!
Sound a feisty reveille while eyeing the schools!
Neither will our heirs be agreeing to deceptions
Once seeing, herein, these sufficient exceptions:
We were seized by a feeling
For fleeing on the ceiling
To a leisurely meal
With Keith, Sheila, and Neil
We drank madeira, so foreign, in steins
Along with a surfeit of weird blueish wines
Being foolish, took codeine, ate ancient proteins
Therein guaranteeing these ogreish scenes
Wherein we're canoeing to a new sovereign state
While deicing a kaleidoscope on a hot jadeite plate
And kneeing obeisance to an overseeing king
Our plebeian lips kissed his counterfeit ring.
Then we unveiled their sleight-of-hand trick
Deifying a heifer, with effect atheistic
And falling from the heights with a loud seismic crunch
We reignited the nonpareils we had heisted for lunch.
So I before E
Except after C
Unless pronounced A?
False decreeing, I say!
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