www.ethanwiner.com - since 1997

"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 this list of exceptions.

Acleisanthes (a genus of desert plants)
ageing
ancient
apartheid
atheist
cheiloplasty (lip reduction)
cheiloscopy (lip prints)
cheilosis (disease caused by riboflavin deficiency)
cleidomastoid (collar bone)
conscience
deign
deism
deity
eider (as in waterfowl)
eidetic (photographic memory)
eigenvalue (EW: and eigenmode)
eight (and related numbers, such as 1/8, 1/80, 18, 80...)
epeiric
epeirid
feign
feisty
forfeit
freight
geisha
height, heighten
heist
inveigh
kaleidoscope
keister
leitmotiv
meiosis
mieskeit
monotheism
neigh
neighbor, neighborhood
Pleiades (star cluster)
pleiotropy
Pleistocene
prescient
reign
rein
reindeer
reinstall, preinstall, reincarnation, reinvent, reinstate, reinstitute, (plus many other "re-in" words wherein the "e" and "i" reside in adjacent syllables)
science
seigniorage  (or seigneurage, if you prefer)
seigniorial
seine (as in "net")
seizure
sensei
sheik
skein
sleigh
sleight (of hand)
sovereign
species
stein
teleidoscope
their
theist
treillage (as in "trellis")
weight
weir
weird
veil
vein
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.


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