Dictionary.com Word FAQs
Why is weiner a variant of wiener? Why is it weird but not weird? Isn't it i before e except after c?
Like most rules for English spelling, there are exceptions, and weiner and weird display this. In school, you heard: Write i before e except after c or when it sounds like an a as in neighbor and weigh. Exceptions include: beige, codeine, conscience, counterfeit, deify, deity, eight, either, feign, feint, foreign, forfeit, heifer, height, heir, heist, leisure, neither, rein, science, seize, society, sovereign, species, sufficient, surfeit, weight, weiner, weird. (And the list goes on!) Why? The rule only applies to digraphs, so words like deity and science do not count. The rule only applies to digraphs that have the /i:/ (ee) pronunciation, as in "piece." The rule does not apply to words that are recent imports from foreign languages, such as gneiss, dreidel, and enceinte. As far as weiner/wiener, "wiener" is the original spelling (c. 1889, from wiener schnitzel) and weiner is an (erroneous) spelling variant (c. 1961), mainly used in North America.