40 in Words: Fourty or Forty? Effective Spelling Guide

The number 40 is commonly misspelled as fourty. This misspelling is typical in compound numbers, i.e., fourty-two, fourty-four, fourty-five, etc. You might wonder why fourty is a misspelling whereas four is not. How do you spell 40 correctly? Read till the end of this article to find out!

How Do You Spell 40?

40 is the natural numeric following 39 and preceding 41. Formally, the number name for 40 was fourty. Literature and texts used the word, and it was considered correct.

Between the 16th and 17th century, it was replaced by forty, which is currently the standard form. Today, fourty is a misspelling of the number 40, which is a common mistake in texts, online, and print materials.

If you’ve misspelled the number name for 40 as fourty in previous writings, don’t be hard on yourself. The misspellings in typical texts result from the trickiness of forty. If you look at it, forty deviates from the usual pattern, as in, four, fourteen, and four hundred.

A tip to help you is this: Do not include the letter U when spelling 40 (forty) and its derivatives (i.e., fortieth). U only appears in four and related words, like fourth, fourteen. It’s fundamental for any writer to be familiar with the correct spelling of the number name forty in order not to write correctly.

Origin and Spelling Variant

Though ‘forty’ dates back to the language’s earliest form, the word also had several variations over the centuries. The current spelling ‘forty’ dates only to the 17th century. There were several spellings for the number 40 that preceded the common misspelling fourty.

1. From Old English (English That Existed From the 7th Century to 1100).

The following existed as the spelling of forty – féowertig, féowurtig and feuortig.

2. From Middle English (between the 12th and 15th Centuries).

The following are some of the spellings that existed as number names for 40 – fowwerrtig, forti, fourthy and fourty.

3. From Modern English (mid to Late 17th Century)

The variations that existed were fourtie, fortie, and forty. With forty becoming the standard form of the word till present. Some works of literature and texts still used fourty until the 18th century, when it fell out of use.

40th printing in blue and on deep blue background
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

To Wrap Up

The misspelling of the letter 40 as fourty is quite understandable. Since the word’s first syllable sounds the same as four, one would argue that there’s no reason for 40 to be spelled differently.

How do you spell 40? The only acceptable and standard spelling of 40 is forty. Any other spelling asides forty is considered a misspelling and would make you look uneducated when you use them in writing. To avoid clumsy writing, stick to the correct spelling of the wordforty.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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