In one of those odd ‘how have I never noticed this before’ moments, it came to my attention at work that we talk about ‘despatching goods’ and yet the signs in our ‘despatch area’ actually say ‘dispatch’.
I’ve never really noticed the ‘e’ and the ‘i’. Anyone who knows me can tell you a rogue vowel is quite likely to pass me by as my brain struggles to tell if things are spelt correctly at the best of times, but it was still an odd feeling.
So I had to investigate.
Even stranger is that both versions of the word have been in English for hundreds of years, both meaning the same thing. Apparently having always meant the same thing, and it’s just a modern preference that American English went more strongly ‘i’ and British English went more strongly ‘e’.
Makes despatch fairly unusual, methinks.