The Bird is the Word: Species Names That ALSO Mean Other Things

In honor of naturalist John James Audubon’s birthday today. Here is a list of bird species names that also have other meanings.

Grouse:

  • A grouse is a ground dwelling bird.
  • Grouse as a verb means to complain or gripe about one’s problems.

Snipe:

  • A snipe is a bird with a long straight bill, round body, and long legs. It inhabits marshlands or coastlines. At beaches it eats insects, snails, tiny crabs, fish eggs, and tiny fish. In the marsh it eats insects and small fish.
  • Snipe as a verb:
    • It can means to hunt snipe birds for food.
    • It can also mean to use a gun as a sniper, shooting from a well-concealed position.
    • Verbally, it means to deliver sharp criticism or nasty rude comments. It happens by the minute on social media from trolls.
Larks love wide open spaces with dry air. Photo by Rajukhan Pathan at Pexels.com

Lark:

  • A songbird famous for bursts of flying and catching insects in the air. “Skylark” is a famous song written by Hoagy Carmichael & Johnny Mercer.
  • Lark can mean an easy task or a prank.
  • Lark as a verb can means to play a prank, or make a little journey.
  • In the phrase “<<do something>> on a lark” means to do something on a whim or spontaneously.
A male cardinal. Photo by Mohan Nannapaneni at Pexels.com

Cardinal:

  • A Cardinal is a North American songbird that forages on seeds and nuts. The birds have a crest of hair atop their heads. The males have vermillion red feathers, making it one of the continent’s most colorful and recognizable birds. The female’s feathers are a dowdy taupe brown with dark red details. Both male and female have coral orange beaks.
  • A cardinal is also a high ranking member of the clergy in Roman Catholicism. They famously wear red. Should the pope die, an international council of cardinals gathers in Rome, Italy to elect a new one.
  • A cardinal sin is one of the 7 deadly sins in Christianity: greed, gluttony, envy, lust, anger, sloth, and pride.

Albatross:

  • An albatross is a very large white coastal bird that dives in the ocean for fish.
  • An albatross around one’s neck means something that is a pain or a nuisance. It comes from the poem ”The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Coleridge. The mariner hero is cursed with wearing a dead albatross around his neck because he killed it.
American robin on a post. Photo by Pixabay.

Robin:

  • A robin is a songbird with a dark head and back, with a brightly colored chest and belly. (The North American robin is black-brown on its back with an orange chest; it is actually related to the thrushes. In the UK, the bird is small and round. Its back is grey with an orange chest. In Australia, the bird’s back is grey and its chest is fuchsia pink.) Robins eat worms and insects.
  • This is also a first name for both sexes.
    • Famous fictional Robins:
      • Robin Sherbatsky on US 2000’s sitcom How I Met Your Mother
      • Robin Culcord on 1980s US sitcom Cheers
      • Robin, Batman’s sidekick in Batman comics, graphic novels, and movies.
Three swans swimming. Photo by Leevi.

Swan:

  • A swan is a large swimming and flying bird. Their feathers are solid white or black. Their beaks are orange or red. Their feet are webbed.
  • In pop culture, a black swan is an unforeseen, surprise event that has major impact—financially, culturally, or both. It entered pop culture thanks to a 2007 book The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
  • The term “swan song” means a farewell performance or one last elegant gesture before death, a job departure, or other ending. It comes from the long held (but mistaken) belief that swans are quiet their whole lives, but sing just before death. Again, it’s a myth.
A grey goose. Photo by Photo by Denitsa Kireva.

Goose:

  • A goose is a large swimming and flying bird with a long neck. They make honking noises and are rather tempermental birds. Goose is also used to refer to the female, while gander is used for males. Geese are raised domestically for eggs, meat, and foie gras (fatted goose’s liver.)
  • Goose as a verb means to poke someone else between his/her buttocks to startle them.
  • Goose can mean a silly or ignorant person.
  • “Goose up” means to give a vehicle some gas, add some alcohol to a food recipe, invest money in a struggling program or venture, or to do some to motivate activity or interest.
  • In the phrase ”my/your goose is cooked,” the subject is doomed or stuck in a bad situation with no escape. It is referenced in ”Wake Up Little Susie” by the Everly Brothers.
A pair of Mallard ducks. Photo by Julia Filirovska.

Duck:

  • A duck is a swimming and flying bird that is about 1/3-1/2 size of a goose. It has a short neck. Ducks make quacking noises. Male ducks are called drakes, they have a trademark curled feather in their tails. Ducks are also farmed domestically for eggs and meat.
  • Duck can also mean a cotton-based fabric, also called canvas. Historically it has been used for clothing, athletic shoes, tents, boat sails, and portrait and landscape painting surfaces.
  • Duck as a verb means to dodge, or quickly move out of the way on an incoming object, for example, a ball, a puck, or a frisbee.
Some chickens are solid colored, others are variegated like this Wyandotte variety. Photo by Tabitha Favor.

Chicken:

Maybe the most famous domesticated bird worldwide. Chickens come in white, black, auburn red, and/or with variegated feathers. The females are hens, the males are roosters (or cocks), and the babies are chicks or peeps.

  • Chicken as an adjective can also mean to lack courage or nerve. No one who’s ever seen roosters battle one another could accuse these birds of cowardice.
  • TRIVIA: Key West, Florida is home to feral chickens. Cubans brought them ages ago for cockfighting contests, and when that practice was outlawed, the birds were released into the streets to fend for themselves. The birds are a protected species on the islands like any seagull, flamingo, pelican, or osprey. They are an unofficial mascot.
  • TRIVIA: Rhode Island’s state bird is the Red Rooster. The University of South Carolina’s mascot is a Gamecock, which is a fighting rooster. Coastal Carolina University’s mascot is a Chanticleer, a French fighting rooster.

Kiwi:

  • A kiwi is a flightless brown bird with a long curved beak for getting bugs from the soil. It is native to New Zealand. It is nocturnal, meaning it feeds at night.
  • A kiwi can also mean an oblong brown fuzzy fruit with a bright green center and black seeds.
  • A Kiwi is also a word meaning a person from New Zealand.
A male North American turkey. Photo by Ashish Sharma at Pexels.com.

Turkey:

  • A turkey is a large ground dwelling bird that is pear-shaped: it has a tiny head, a large bulbous body, and spindly long legs. Like chickens, peacocks, and pigeons, they have a prancing style of walk. Wild male turkeys have colorful blue and red heads, a fleshy waddle that hangs from their nose, and fan shaped tails. Turkeys cries are called gobbles. Adult Male turkeys are called toms, adult female turkeys are called hens. Young males are jakes, young females are jennys. Turkeys are also raised domestically for their meat.
  • In the phrase ”talk turkey,” the speaker wants to talk frankly, seriously, he/she means business.
  • in the phrase ”cold turkey,” the speaker (or someone they know) has abruptly gotten sober, meaning they stopped illicit drugs, alcohol, or both.
  • In the sport of bowling, it can mean three strikes in a row.
  • As an adjective it can mean someone or something is a loser, a flop, or a venture that didn’t pay off as promised.
  • Turkey as a proper noun can mean a country south of Europe and western Asia. When trfer to the country, its people food, or customs, the first letter should always be capitalized.

WARNING: Things get more adult rated/explicit below.

Blue Footed Booby in Ecuador. Photo by Dick Hoskins.

Booby:

  • This is a coastal bird with colorful webbed feet for swimming.
  • Booby or boob can mean a stupid person.
  • Booby is also slang for breasts.
  • A booby trap is a pitfall or other trap set for an unsuspecting (naïve) victim or “booby.”
A Eurasian Blue Tit in the Netherlands. Photo by Jos van Ouwerkerk on Pexels.com

Tit:

  • This is a small bird that hunts insects for food, also called a titmouse. Its beak is pointed and small. Some tits have crested feathers on their heads.
  • Tit is slang for breasts.
  • In British English, it’s also a derogatory term meaning an ignorant or foolish person.
  • In older language, a tit can mean a small horse or a young woman.

Swallow:

  • A dark colored, flying bird with a forked tail. Swallows catch flying insects in midair, especially at dusk or early morning hours.
  • Swallow as a verb can mean to ingest food, medicine, or drink. In intimate/erotic situations, it means ingesting semen.
  • Swallow can also mean to be absorbed or blend in so well (like in a crowd of people) so as to be unrecognizable.
  • In the phrase ”tough to swallow,” given information is hard to accept or hear.
  • In the phrase “swallow my pride,” it means a person is sacrificing some of their expectations to give an opportunity a chance.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 26, 2022.

EASILY CONFUSED WORDS: STRAIT VS. STRIATE

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway. 

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Strait (pronounced “str-ate”) is a noun. 

  • As a geographical term, it’s a a naturally formed narrow waterway connecting larger bodies of water. Examples around the globe including Alaska’s Bering Strait, The Strait of Gibraltar off Spain, and the Bosporus Strait in Turkey. There are many more listed here.  
  • A strait can also be a situation that resembles that waterway—involving tight financial budgets, tight timelines or deadlines, and therefore, stressful and emotionally intense situations. You’re in a strait if you don’t know if you’re going to be a success or make it out alive. So you can probably imagine what the phrase “dire straits” means: being in a really, really bad situation from which there’s possibly no escape or reprieve.
    • TRIVIA: Yes, the UK band name, Dire Straits, fronted by Mark Knopfler. It was popular in the 1970s-1980s. Sultans of Swing, So Far Away, Walk of Life, and Money for Nothing are some of their most popular tracks in the US.

Striate (pronounced “strye-ate”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to mark or place in stripes, furrows or lines.
  • As an adjective, it describes something in stripes, furrows, or layers.
  • The related noun, stria (singular)/striae (plural) means a stripe, streak or furrow.

The following story uses both words correctly:

While many treasure hunters sought Spanish shipwrecks in the Caribbean, Struan Stephens was curious about Barbarry pirates shipwrecks closer to the Bosphorus strait. His instincts paid off. Once he discovered a shipwreck, all sorts of treasures were unearthed from the striated sea floor.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 21, 2022.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Strait vs. Straight

Easily Confused Words: Citron vs. Citrine

Citron and citrine are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway. 

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Citron (pronounced ”sih-trawn”) is a noun.

  • It means a yellow dimpled skin fruit, larger than a lemon, that looks like a deflated ball or balloon. Once it’s cut open, its very thick pith is noticeable.
  • It can also mean a gray green color.

Citrine (pronounced “sih-trihne”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a semi-precious gem, it means yellow quartz.
  • It can also mean a yellow-colored object or product, like clothing, furniture, home decor, cars, etc.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Citlali’s neighbor, Mrs. Gladys Norman, was having a milestone birthday: 85. She was the only person left in her family, and it was probably going to be another quiet, uneventful day. But Citlali wanted to shake things up a bit and she took the day off.

While Mrs. Norman napped in her backyard, Citlali decorated her friend’s porch in streamers and tasseled garland. Their colors were citrine and celadon. She brought over a citron-flavored refrigerated pie with candles in it and some plates.

Mrs. Norman awoke from her nap and thought she heard something on the other side of the house. She made her way to the porch.

“Happy Birthday Mrs. Norman!” said Citlali.

“Oh this is really beautiful, she said, wiping some tears from her face. “You didn’t have to do this, Citlali.”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 21, 2022.

Easily Confused Words: Help vs. Held

Help and held are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway. 

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Help (pronounced ”help”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb it can mean to assist physically, intellectually, or emotionally.
  • As a noun, it can be used collectively to refer to the household workers in home care and cleaning, food preparation and presentation, childcare, vehicle care and driving, gardening, or a combination of these roles.
    • For example, the popular show Downton Abbey covers the lives of an Earl’s family, the lives of the household help, and how those stories often entertwine in England 1910s-1920s. A similar series about a wealthy family and their help was called Upstairs, Downstairs. It was also made in the UK and was aired on US television in the 1970s.
    • A bestselling novel (US) called The Help was published in 2009. Its heroines are two African-American nannies/cooks/housekeepers. These women have often horrific experiences working in the homes of middle-class white families in Jackson, Mississippi, in early 1962. A social misfit white woman, Skeeter, is distraught that her own housekeeper was fired unfairly while she was in college. Skeeter decides someone should write a book about these workers’ perspectives and asks these women to share their stories.

Held (pronounced “held”) is the past tense of the verb ”hold.”

  • It can means to carry something in one’s hands or arms.
  • It can mean embrace or carry another person or an animal.
  • It can mean to refrain from normal bodily activity or emotional response, as in:
    • ”I was told to hold my breath to cure my hiccups. It didn’t work,”
    • ”I have to hold my temper when explaining my problem to customer service for the fifth time.”
    • ”You might want to hold your nowe when you open the laundry bin. There’s dirty gym clothes in there.”
    • In the phrase, ”I will hold back saying how I really feel,” it means some is trying to be diplomatic and polite while feeling very angry and/or disappointed.

So “held” indicates one of the above meanings happened in the past.


The following story uses both words correctly:

Hadrian held his breath and exhaled slowly. He hated crowds, crowded elevators, and feeling boxed-in in small spaces. But elevator operator at the most posh hotel in the City was a good paying job. A chance meeting or conversation could lead to something better.

As the doors parted, a new rider with their arm in a cast appeared. “This is embarrassing. I am shorthanded and this suitcase is a little heavy, can you help me? The bellhops are all booked up with tourists. I’m Artie Buchanan.”

“Yes, of course, sir, said Hadrian, grabbing the bag. “What floor?”

“The fortieth. Room 430. I could use some help unpacking in my room if it’s not too much trouble. What’s your name?”

“Hadrian Smalls, sir.”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 14, 2022.

Easily Confused Words: Gazpacho vs. Gestapo

Gazpacho and gestapo proved to be easily confused words for a member of Congress. How could I resist?

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway. 

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Gazpacho (pronounced ”gahz-pah-choh”) is a cold soup in Spanish cuisine. Its ingredients include tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and herbs. It is served cold.

Gestapo (pronounced “guihss-STAH-poh”) was the name of the police in Nazi Germany (1933-1945.)

The following story uses both words correctly:

Julia was interviewing cook off contestants. Her next contestant was Geraldine DeJean. ”Are you putting cinnamon in that gazpacho?” Julia asked.

Geraldine said, “No I’m adding paprika and cayenne for a touch of heat. Cinnamon doesn’t fit the profile. Besides I wouldn’t want to offend the Gazpacho police.”

Julia chuckled. ”That’s not a thing. It was a fumbling of Gestapo. That was a thing in Germany over 80 years ago. It had nothing to do with food.”

Geraldine looked nervous and glared at her. ”That’s not what I heard.”

Julia thought she had a humorous moment on her hands and ran with it. ”Oh, Okay. Are there Ceviche Cops? Salsa spies?”

“Maybe. You better watch out, they could be listening right now.” Geraldine still seemed dead serious.
“Good luck Geraldine, I think we’ll see what’s cooking with our next contestant, Jorge.”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 14, 2022.

Easily Confused Words: Any More vs. Anymore

Any more and anymore are easily confused terms: one is a phrase, the other is one whole word.
Any more (pronounced ”enn-ee” (pause) “mohr”)

Any can be an adjective, adverb used with other words, or apronoun by itself.
More is can also be an adjective or adverb when used with other words, and a noun when used alone.

As a combined phrase, “any more”

  • indicates supplies of a tangible item are completely depleted.
  • It can also indicate more abstract things, like feelings or attachment toward another person, have disappeared.

Anymore (pronounced “enn-ee-mohr”) is a word that means something that used to occur has stopped completely. For example, Dodo birds don’t exist anymore.

Anymore has also been used in pop culture song titles, film titles, and books. Some examples include:

  • “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore” a duet by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond
  • Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

The following stories use both words correctly:

“Sir, is there any more spaghetti?”

“I’m afraid there isn’t any more left tonight. But I can make you a sandwich on the grill.”

“That would be great. Thank you.”

————-—

“Do you want to go to piano practice?”

“I don’t want play anymore. My last recital didn’t go well and one of the other kids said I’m horrible.”

“Honey, you’ll do better next time. Don’t give up.”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 13, 2022.


This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Any Way Versus Anyway

Easily Confused Words: Langour vs. Langur

Langour and langur are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway. 

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Langour (pronounced ”LANG-uhr”) is a noun with multiple meanings.

  • It can mean an uncomfortable quiet or inactivity in a space or area.
  • It can mean a state of fatigue, sluggishness, or a lack of energy.

Langur (pronounced “LUHN-goo-uhr”) is a noun. It means a primate native to Asia. More specifically, its species live in the Indian subcontinent, its neighboring countries, and islands of Malaysia.

Langurs defining characteristic are skinny limbs but a very swollen belly. That belly contains a complicated, multi-chamber digestion tract that processes their plant-based diet slowly. Langurs also have very long tails in proportion to their bodies.

Langurs are old world monkeys, so their brows and faces are framed in long feathery hair. (New World monkeys have shorter fur on their heads and faces.)

The following story uses both words correctly:

Langley was supposed to go on a wildlife safari to photograph langurs and other native species. Unfortunately the night before, she ran into old friends she’d taught ESL with in South Korea. Catching up on old times and drinking a lot, they had partied until the early morning hours.
Now it was time to climb into a Jeep in stifling heat and traverse rugged terrain in the jungle. Langley was in a state of langour, she had a stabbing headache and felt a little nauseous. A guide generously offered her an aromatic veggie handpie that helped her aching head.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 13, 2022.

Easily Misread Words: Reading vs. Reading

Reading and reading are easily misread words. The issue is not spelling, but how the words are understood by a reader as they scan printed text, or as the words are read aloud.

Reading (pronounced ”REED-ihng;” rhymes with bleeding, feeding, seeding) has multiple meanings.

As a verb:

  • It can mean the activity of scanning lines of text with one’s eyes or fingertips (as in Braille) and intellectually understanding what those words are saying.
  • It can mean reading aloud, one person is holding the book and using their voice to share what’s written on a page with someone else.
  • Perhaps it’s one preschool age child who can’t read themselves. A parent is reading to them to relax them for sleep but also initiate them with words, language, and stories.
  • Perhaps a teacher is reading to an audience of small children in his/her class.
  • Perhaps a religious leader is reading religious text (i.e., Bible, Torah, Koran) to a congregation.
  • It can also mean interpreting a geographic map, a mass transit map, theme park guide, or a shopping center guide.
  • In occult traditions, a reading is done by interpreting Tarot cards dealt from a hand, the arrangement of tea leaves in a cup, or in the line patterns of a person’s hands.

As an adjective:

It can modify items used to assist reading a book or other printed literature. For example, reading glasses are worn to help people read small print. As people age, their eyes have a harder time focusing at short distances. Reading glasses help with this issue. Another example is a reading light, which is clipped onto a book or nearby furniture to help a person read in darkened or lowlit rooms.

As a noun:

  • In medicine, a reading is a measurement of a biological process. For example, a routine doctor visit includes a blood pressure reading. There are also readings of cholesterol levels, iron, blood sugar, etc. to confirm the patient is well.
  • It can mean a passage that is read aloud, like during a church service or ceremony.
  • It can mean a measurement on a Geiger counter, which is used to measure nuclear radiation in a nuclear disaster area like Chernobyl (Ukraine) or Fukushima (Japan). It is not safe for humans to spend much time in these places.

Reading (pronounced ”RED-ihng”) is a proper noun. Because it is a proper noun, the first letter of the word should be capitalized.

  • It means a city in England. Reading is a city in southeast of the country.
  • It’s the name of a number of cities and towns in the USA:
    • It means a city in Pennsylvania, a state in the northeastern United States. Reading is about halfway between Harrisburg, the state capital, and the state’s largest city, Philadelphia.
    • It means a city in eastern Massachusetts, a state in the northeast of the United States.
    • It means a city in eastern Kansas, a state in the midwest of the United States. Reading, KS was named for the city in Pennsylvania.
    • It means a city in southwest Ohio, a state in the midwest of the United States. This Reading is part of the Cinncinnati metro area. Another Reading in Ohio is an unincorporated community.
  • Reading can be a surname a.k.a., last name. As such its first letter is capitalized.

The following story uses both words correctly:

“Can you believe the US has an illiteracy rate of 21%? I can’t believe what I’m reading in the Reading Falcon. That’s unacceptable!” exclaimed Regina.

Ricardo, still needing a few more cups of coffee this morning, was a little taken aback. She wasn’t usually this dramatic about anything this early in the morning.

“I can’t live in a country that spends billions on defense and tolerates its kids being illiterate!”

“We just moved here to Reading. Do you really want to move again?” Ricardo asked sleepily.

“No, of course not. I have to help more people learn to read if they can’t. I need to call the mayor’s office on my lunchbreak tomorrow.” She jumped up out of her chair, grabbed a mug, and poured a little cream then filled it with coffee. She gave him a kiss and handed it to him.

“Here’s your coffee, Ricardo, you’re barely functional right now.”

“Thank you.”

ORIGINALLY POSTED APRIL 12, 2022.

This post relates to other posts:
Easily Misread Words: Red vs. Read

Easily Confused Words: Tactile vs. Taciturn

Speaking and Communicating Goes to the Movies: The Miracle Worker (6/6)

Easily Confused Words: Braiding vs. Berating

Braiding and berating are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway. 

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Braiding (pronounced ”bray-dihng;” rhymes with aiding, plating, grading, hating) is a verb.

  • It can mean to weave human hair, artificial human hair, or animal hair (i.e., a horse’s tail, angora rabbit hair, Maltese or Afghan dog hair, etc.)
  • It can mean to weave long strand fibers like yarn, jute, or hemp.
  • It can mean to weave long strands of dough or other material. Challah bread is famously rolled into strips and braided before baking.

Berating (pronounced “buhr-A-tihng”) is a verb. To berate is to verbally reprimand in dramatic, intense manner. It’s not enough to point out another’s mistakes, the speaker piles on with his/her anger or disappointment, talking about really bad ramifications, or attacking the other person’s character or motives for making the error. Maybe the speaker does all of the above.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Brianna wasn’t sure she wanted to continue with her cosmetology program. She had done very well with haircutting, coloring and curling, but braiding was proving challenging. Not pulling hair too tight, getting the braids to look proportionate and smooth to the scalp were hard things to achieve.

Her instructor in braiding, Kristoff, was an intense personality. As his students worked, he had a habit of walking around the room and berating them for sloppy technique and lack of speed.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 12, 2022.

EASILY CONFUSED WORDS: Anyway vs. Any Way

Anyway and any way are easily confused terms.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway. 

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Anyway (pronounced “enn-EE-way”) is an adverb.

  • It is a word used as a segue to change the subject in conversation. Usually the speaker is tired of discussing one thing and wants to move on to another, or there’s nothing more to be said about a particular topic. For example: “It doesn’t seem I’m getting a meeting to discuss my performance review with the boss this week either. Anyway, how’s your day going?”
  • It is a word used to indicate disgust or annoyance with something or someone, and it ends the sentence. For example, “I didn’t want to go to that party anyway.”

Any way (“enn-EE” (pause) “way”) is a two word phrase. Any can be an adjective, pronoun, or adverb, depending on how it is used. This is the role it’s playing in a sentence, including what words it is modifying, if it is modifying a word at all.

In “any way,” any is an adjective here, and way is a noun. “Any” is a descriptor for “way.” Usually this phrase is used to ask for or discuss other options than a planned course of action.

Here are some examples:

  • Is there any way I can get an extension on the due date for this paper?
  • She said there isn’t any way we could get back together after I cheated on her. I think I really messed up this time.
  • They say there won’t be any way we can pass this crucial legislation this term, but we have to prove them wrong.

The following story uses both words correctly:

They had to cancel the wedding and this meant they were out $10,000. Annie was wondering if there was any way they could elope on the beach. Andrew was wondering if the rumors were true that the local bowling alley was run by someone who could officiate marriage ceremonies. Weddings were overrated anyway, weren’t they?

“I’m gonna call the bowling alley, I think someone can officiate there.”

“You have GOT to be kidding me! I know we’re out a lot of cash but I don’t want my marriage ceremony to go completely to the dogs. Can’t we elope somewhere beautiful?”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 9, 2021.