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Muffoletta FAQ:  frequently asked questions

LOS ANGELES, California, USA Frequently asked questions about muffoletta bread, sandwich and salad -- as well as related questions -- are set forth here, with their answers.

Word muffoletta

The word muffoletta (and its many spelling variations) cause countless debates and (false) urban legends.  Some (non) authorities claim that the word originated in New Orleans;  others claim that the word comes from muffo, meaning a type of mold.  This FAQ answers the most frequently asked questions about the muffoletta. 

Of all the questions about muffoletta, the most frequently asked is:

How is muffoletta spelled?

The correct spelling is muffoletta.  The word is derived from the Sicilian/Italian word muffola, which means a fingerless mitten, with the diminutive suffix etta, which provides a small and endearing connotation.

Alternate spellings are incorrect but common and understandable.  They are understandable because the correct word requires the pronunciation of four different vowels in a single word -- 'a', 'e', 'o' and 'u' -- and this is difficult for the tongue.  As a result, mispronunciation is common:  the sound of the first 'u' carries over to the second vowel, so the word becomes muffuletta, which is one of the most common alternate spellings.  Other mispronunciations cause other misspellings.

Other ways of spelling the word?

The word muffoletta is misspelled in almost every conceivable way.  For example, the second vowel, 'o', is often replaced with another vowel, so the word becomes:

  • muffaletta
  • muffeletta
  • muffiletta
  • muffoletta (this is the correct spelling)
  • muffuletta

The third vowel, 'e', is similarly replaced with other vowels:

  • muffalatta
  • muffaletta
  • muffalitta
  • muffalotta
  • muffalutta

Notice that the spellings above share the second vowel, 'a'.  Additional spellings result from changing the second vowel, such as:

  • muffelatta
  • muffeletta
  • muffelitta
  • muffelotta
  • muffelutta

Similar changes are made by substituting the second vowel with 'i', 'o' and 'u', but all those permutations will not be listed here.

There are three other noteworthy changes that result in common misspellings.  Many times, the double 't' is replaced by a single 't', as in muffoleta.  Sometimes the last vowel is dropped entirely (when it follows a single 't'), or the last vowel is often changed, with these common replacements:

  • muffoletta
  • muffolette
  • muffoletti
  • muffoletto
  • muffolettu

Rarely are the first four letters changed in a misspelling, so a mathematical analysis shows that, by changing the second vowel in five ways, the thrid vowel in five ways, the 't's in two ways, and the last vowel in 6 ways (which includes now vowel), there are thousands of possible misspellings.

Few words in any language are so often misspelled.

What are the most common ways of spelling the word?

The 41 most common ways to spell muffoletta (as determined by a Google search, with the number of hits shown in parentheses) are shown below.

Note:  the correct spelling of muffoletta ranks only 18th on the list.  This means that misspellings occur much more frequently than correct spellings.

The rankings of the spellings (and the number of Internet websites for each) include:

  • muffoletto (3,820)
  • muffuletta (3,300)
  • muffaletta (2,730)
  • muffeletta (277)
  • muffalata (207)
  • muffaleta (144)
  • muffalatta (137)
  • muffalotta (95)
  • muffaletto (86)
  • muffelata (79)
  • muffuletto (78)
  • muffelatta (76)
  • muffeleta (63)
  • muffeletto (63)
  • muffuleta (46)
  • muffolette (43)
  • muffuletti (35)
  • muffoletta (32) ==> the correct spelling is only the 18th most common spelling (at least on the Internet)
  • muffulata (20)
  • muffulette (15)
  • muffoleto (15)
  • muffalette (10)
  • muffoletti (10)
  • muffolatta (8)
  • muffalota (6)
  • muffaleto (6)
  • muffalet (6)
  • muffolata (5)
  • muffolet (5)
  • muffeleto (4)
  • muffulet (3)
  • muffiletta (2)
  • muffolotta (2)
  • muffelette (2)
  • muffalita (1)
  • muffelotta (1)
  • muffulotta (1)
  • muffalutta (1)
  • muffaletti (1)
  • muffelet (1)

Source:  Google search on the word alone, conducted on 14 July 2003.

Joe O'Connell is senior research specialist for Muffoletta Ltd., the official resource for information about the authentic muffoletta.

Related information

  • first site here





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