Separate, Seperate

How to Separate “Seperate” from Your Vocabulary Forever

by Owen Fourie

A strange, non-existent word keeps appearing in print and on the Internet. It is the word “seperate.”

It is seen even on websites where you would expect that more care would have been taken. Nobody is infallible, but simple proofreading is all that is needed to eliminate such errors.

Here is an anecdote that will provide an antidote for this incorrect spelling of the word “separate.”


Long ago, in a far-off English town where some families gave their children names that were uncommon in their society, the Rate family decided to call their twin boys Septimus and Disparos.

Septimus and Disparos did not like their names. Their situation was made worse by constant teasing. At school, Septimus became known as “Septic Mouse” and Disparos as “Da Sparrow.”

On the other side of town, their cousin, Despotimus, fared no better. He became known as “Hippopotamus.”

They grew up refusing to use their full first names. Septimus called himself “Sep”; Disparos settled for “Disp,” and Despotimus liked “Desp.”

Years later, Sep, Disp, and Desp discussed a business partnership in taxidermy, specializing in preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins of dead mice, sparrows, and hippopotami.

Their plans went well until the day that Disp decided to pull out of the arrangement. Evidently, he did not take kindly to his brother’s preference for their cousin’s ideas. He felt that he was quite unlike his brother and his cousin in the department of concepts.

Disp seethed with jealousy in his separation from the others. What vengeance could he wreak on this partnership?

Soon, the brass plate for the new business would be made. He knew what he would do.

Before the engraver could start the job, he sneaked into the shop. Unnoticed, he managed to make undetectable changes to the instructions on the order for the brass plate.

When the newly completed plate arrived, Sep and Desp were incensed at the error and insisted that it should be corrected free of charge. The engraver showed them the order. His work was accurate.

Sep and Desp protested, but, for lack of money, they reconciled themselves to their changed initials.

Sep E. Rate and Desp A. Rate displayed their brass plate, which read,

Sep A. Rate

Desp E. Rate



We have to blame Disp A. Rate for this mischievous tampering that has left us with the accepted spelling of separate.

Remember the taxidermists Sep A. Rate and Desp E. Rate and the discordant Disp A. Rate to spell these words correctly.

Of course, it is fiction, but it is a useful memory trick for the correct spelling of these words, especially separate. Remember, Sep A. Rate.

With the meanings of these three words and some examples of their usage, we’ll conclude this adventure in spelling:


As a verb, separate refers to the action of setting something apart from a group of people or a set of things.

As an adjective, separate describes whoever or whatever is set apart.

If you separate [verb] the colored pencils and use a separate [adjective] box for each color, the children will take less time to find what they need for their project.

A dictionary will show you that there is a difference in pronunciation between the verb and the adjective.


Desperate is an adjective that can be applied to a person or a situation where there is apparently no hope and much despair.

As the endless hours passed without any sign that they would be rescued, the desperate miners shared their last cup of water.


Disparate is an adjective that is used to describe people or things or ideas that are unlike each other in kind or quality or nature.

With so many disparate views of the complicated case, it seems that the members of the jury are unable to agree on a verdict.

A final word

Use an A in separate and you will receive an A for your correct spelling.


Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome. Are there other words whose spelling confuses you? Ask here for clarification.

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