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Why is it spelled...?

Why are there two <u>'s in vacuum?

Our collegiate tally includes eleven different ways of misspelling vacuum. Ten of them involve the <uu>, which is understandable since in English we normally avoid <uu>, partially because we already have a double-<u>, <w>. All but one of the <uu>'s that we have in English are due to duplicative addition — that is, cases where two elements add together, the first ending and the second starting with the same letter. Thus, there are two <u>'s in vacuum because we need one for the end of the base, vacu+, and one for the beginning of the suffix -um›: vacu+um›. The base vacu+ means "empty, empty space." It's also in evacuate ‹e/x+vacu+ate›, vacuity vacu+ity›, vacuole vacu+ole›, and vacuous vacu+ous›.

Other words with <uu> are continuum ‹co/m+n+tin2+u/e›+um›, duumvir du1+um›+vir1 du1 "two" and vir1 "man," menstruum menstru+um› "measure, month," residuum ‹re+sid+u/e›+um›. There is also the German Weltanschauung welt3+an5+schau+ung› and the new Hawaiian adoption muumuu, the one word in which the <uu> is not due to duplicative addition (AES, 3.3.1).

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