Steve Meitz (aka Bus Rider) has done it again (thanks Steve!). He’s come up with another interesting idea. Maybe I need to add his name to the blog banner.
The English language is a confusing morass of words, rules, punctuation marks and parts of speech (wikipedia lists well over 100 different figures of speech such as anastrophes, the inversion of accepted word order. Think of Jedi Master Yoda: speaks in anastrophes, he does). Many we have looked at before, but this time Steve pointed me to a list of paired words which are commonly confused. They are spelled differently and in some cases sound different yet are still easily confused. And of course this kind of typo isn’t something that will get flagged by spell check.
Here’s the list
indignation strong displeasure at something considered unjust, offensive, insulting, or base; righteous anger.
indignity an injury to a person’s dignity; slighting or contemptuous treatment; humiliating affront, insult, or injury.
forward to advance or help onward; promote.
foreword a short introductory statement in a published work, as a book, especially when written by someone other than the author.
defuse to make less dangerous, tense, or embarrassing.
diffuse widely spread or scattered; dispersed.
loath unwilling; reluctant; disinclined; averse.
loathe to feel disgust or intense aversion for; abhor.
palate the roof of the mouth.
palette a thin and usually oval or oblong board or tablet with a thumb hole at one end, used by painters for holding and mixing colors.
quaffed to drink a beverage, especially an intoxicating one, copiously and with hearty enjoyment.
coiffed to dress or arrange the hair.
gibe to utter mocking or scoffing words; jeer.
jibe to be in harmony or accord; agree
tussled to have struggled or fought roughly or vigorously; wrestle; scuffle.
tousled a disheveled or rumpled mass, especially of hair.
exacted to call for, demand, or require.
extracted to get, pull, or draw out, usually with special effort, skill, or force.
After digging a little deeper I found some more commonly confused or misused words:
affect to act upon; produce an effect or change
effect something produced by a cause; result; consequence
allusion a passing reference or incidental mention
illusion deception, a false or misleading impression
bimonthly occurring every two months
semimonthly occurring twice a month
capital a city or town that is the seat of government
capitol the building in which the legislature convenes
cite to quote as an authority
site a location
complement something that completes or makes perfect as in the wine complements the meal
compliment to praise or greet courteously
comprise to include, contain or consist of
compose to combine or make up
concurrent at the same time
consecutive one after the other
elicit to draw out or bring forth; evoke as in to elicit a response
illicit illegal, unlawful, unlicensed
flaunt conspicuously parade or display
flout treat with disdain, scorn or contempt
lay t0 place or put a thing
lie to be in a horizontal or recumbent position as on a bed
principal the highest in rank as in a school principal
principle an accepted rule of action or conduct; a fundamental law or truth
venal corruptible; willing to sell one’s influence; open to bribery
venial forgivable; not seriously wrong as in a venial sin
There are three other pairs of words that I have to constantly look up in order to tell them apart. I can spell them correctly and I know the definitions of each word but I just can’t remember which definition goes with which spelling. Seeing them in context helps me differentiate between them but putting them in context is much harder for me.
stared to gaze fixedly
starred studded with stars, or the participation of a celebrity
scared frightened, afraid
scarred a physical blemish often caused by a cut or other trauma
desert an arid and often sandy area
dessert a sweet ending to a meal such as cake, pie or ice cream.
I also used to confuse the words loose (not tight) and lose (misplace), but I have broken myself of that bad habit. Which words plague you? What’s your thorn in the side? Share them in the comments section below.