"i" before "e" except after "c"

Michael Quinion wordseditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Wed Jun 24 18:28:57 UTC 2009

Has anyone information on the earliest appearance of this rule?

My earliest finding for it in the modern form so far is in James Stuart
Laurie's Manual of English Spelling of 1866. There is an earlier reference
in The District School Journal of the State of New-York for 1847, in which
the rule is given as "When the preceding consonant is c, the e always
precedes the i: Deceive, Conceive."

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: wordseditor at worldwidewords.org
Web: http://www.worldwidewords.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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