Easily Confused Words: Timbre vs. Timber

Timbre and timber are easily confused words. They are also homophones, meaning they sound the same, but are pronounced differently and mean different things.

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.

Timbre (pronounced “tihm-buhr”) is a musical term. It refers to volume and tone quality of a voice, or a musical instrument’s sounds when it’s played.

Timber (pronounced “tihm-buhr”) has multiple meanings.

As a noun, it refers to:

  • forests used for commercial building materials.
  • wooded land
  • wood that was part of a building that has fallen off.
  • a cry made by lumberjacks when cutting trees to tell their teammates a tree is going falling and to get out of its path as soon as possible if they haven’t already.
  • in equestrian sports, a fence or hurdle used for jumping.

As a verb, it refers to:

  • performing the duties of a lumberjack
  • to provide wood for supports or other use.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Timon came from a family of lumberjacks and people who worked in the timber industry. But he was more interested in chorale music, things like timbre, harmony, contraposto, and polyphony. 

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Easily Confused Words: Eaves vs. Eve’s

Eaves and eve’s 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.

Eaves (pronounced “eevz”; rhymes with leaves) is the plural noun. It is the wooden underside of a roof that protrudes from the exterior walls of a house or other building.

Eve’s (pronounced “eev’zihs”) is possessive noun. It would be used to indicate:

  • Items belonging to a woman named Eve
    • Eve’s gym shoes were left in the car overnight and now it stinks.
  • A contraction of “Eve is” or ‘Eve has”
    • Eve’s scored the leading role in spring play.
  • Events or things associated with the night before a holiday.
    • She started reading the book on a snowy Christmas Eve’s night.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Eve had gone for a walk outside to get away from her parents’ bickering. It was a little rainy, but she didn’t mind. She walked down to the pond and watched the koi fish swim around for about 10 minutes. Then she saw the mail truck pass by and headed back towards the house. Before she could reach the box, something moving snagged Eve’s attention. It was a squirrel that crawled up the side of the house and into a hole in one of the eaves. 

Easily Confused Words: Consternation vs. Conservation

Consternation and conservation 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.

Consternation (pronounced “kahn-stuhr-nay-shun”) is a state of simultaneous surprise and upset.

Conservation (pronounced “kahn-suhrr-vay-shun”) is a noun. It means the act of saving or preserving something, usually a resource. Money, water, air quality, and animal habitats are all things being conserved.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Constanze was a fiscal conservative but also an major advocate for environmental conservation. She agreed to be part of a new administration in order to be a positive influence.

Once the job started though, it appeared profit margins for corporations were more important than human health, air quality, water quality, and increasing green space in cities. After experiencing daily consternation and fret at having her values marginalized, she resigned.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Consternation vs. Carnation.

Easily Confused Words: Ferment vs. Foment

Ferment and foment 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.

Ferment (pronounced “fuhr-mihnt”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means a process in liquids in which yeasts feed on sugar and release carbon dioxide (CO₂) and ethanol. This starts the process for making alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, and hard liquors (whiskey, vodka, gin, etc.)
  • As a verb, it means the process where vegetables are submerged in water with salt, starter, or whey in an airtight container for hours at a time. For example, German sauerkraut and Korean kimchi are made this way.
  • Figuratively, it can mean something developing organically that isn’t necessarily alcohol or consumption-related.
  • As a noun, it can mean something capable of causing the act of fermenting or fermentation.
  • As a noun, more figuratively, it can mean a state of unrest, furious activity, liveliness, restlessness.

Foment (pronounced “foh-mihnt”; rhymes with moment) is a verb.

  • It means to aid or help in the development of something. Usually this something is negative or has negative connotations.
  • It can mean to apply first aid treatments to a wound.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Fonzo hoped adding sriracha to his cabbage would create exciting flavors to the kimchi he was about to ferment. As with any recipe changes, hopefully it wouldn’t foment anything bad tasting and ruin the whole batch. 

Easily Confused Words: Pennant vs. Penitent

Pennant vs. Penitent 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.

Pennant (pronounced “pihn-uhnt”; rhymes with tenant) is a noun.

  • It can mean a felt fabric triangular flag that celebrates a sports team or other celebrated character or brand.
  • It can mean a triangular flag on a boat used for identification.
  • It can mean an award in baseball.

Penitent (pronounced “pihn-uh-tihnt”) is an adjective. It describes someone is expressing remorse, or seeking forgiveness, or someone humbled. Someone feeling guilty and

The following story uses both words correctly:

Penn was ecstatic that they won the pennant this year, but he was less thrilled that the pitcher would be making the acceptance speech for the team. The pitcher, Pete Prater, always sounded so penitent and overly religious when he talked publicly. The team got little credit for their training and practice. This routine had gotten old really fast. 

Easily Confused Words: Carotid vs. Corroded

Carotid and corroded are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not necessarily 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.

Carotid (pronounced “kuh-rah-tihd”) is a noun. It means a thick artery that runs alongside the jugular vein on both sides of the neck in humans and other animals. It takes blood away from the brain and back to the heart.

Corroded (pronounced “kuh-roh-dihd”; rhymes with imploded)  As the past tense of the verb “corrode.” To corrode is when a metal gradually rusts. More figuratively, it can mean something else chemically breaking down or being taken apart in pieces.. So corroded indicates a gradual rusting or gradual breakdown that happened in the past.

Corrode (and its other forms) are transitive verbs.

The following story uses both words correctly:

It had been 10 years since Corey had returned home to his village. It had to be evacuated in a hurry and people were not allowed to return for 10 years.

That timeframe had passed. Even now, he had to wear a protective suit to avoid the radiation. He couldn’t go there by himself, and he was told he had 15 minutes tops to look around.

The family car was still parked in the driveway, but it was corroded and the tires had collapsed. Inside, everything was in place as they day they had left it. It looked like a museum scene. Being there was like walking around in an old photo. 

When he saw the stuffed animals his baby brother had left behind, he gasped and his blood turned cold. He suddenly he remembered those times acutely. His brother had gotten very sick after the big evacuation, and died. And though doctors and others said it was mere coincidence, Corey suspected otherwise. His parents were aggrieved but accepted these claims with a hopeless resignation. They couldn’t challenge their employer and not risk their jobs in the process.

As he thought about his brother’s short life, Corey suddenly felt very weak. It was as if his carotid artery was blocked, or something else stopped the flow to his brain. He collapsed. The crew knew something was up when he failed to respond and didn’t return on time. He was rushed to the hospital.

Easily Confused Words: Slug vs. Slough

Slug and slough 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.

Slug (pronounced “”sluh-g”; rhymes with drug, mug, bug, thug) has multiple meanings.

    • As a noun, it can mean a gastropod, or a slimy, snail-looking creature that has no shell. It feeds on garden plants and vegetables. Slugs bodies require constant moisture; they will shrivel up in the sun or on a hot surface. After it rains or in the evenings, you see more slugs come out to eat.
    • As a noun, in weaponry, it can be slang for a gun bullet, a BB, or other piece of metal fired from a gun.
    • As a noun, in traditional printing, it can mean a piece of metal used for spacing between paragraphs, or an actual line of type.
    • As a noun, in web publishing, it’s typically the final sequence of words and hyphens in a webpage link, usually following a slash: before I publish this page it has a number to this post, but after it’s published the slug with read /slug-vs-slough or something to that effect.
    • As a verb, it means to hit to strike a blow. If you’ve read or watched Charlie Brown, the character Lucy threatens to slug others frequently.

Slough (pronounced “sluhff”; rhymes with stuff, muff, bluff, fluff) is a verb. It means to rub or scratch off the surface of something.

For example, gritty facial washes and soaps claim to slough off dirt, makeup, and other impurities from the surface. This is so the user avoids clogged pores and acne.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Silas was annoyed that once again, his cabbages had been ravaged by slugs. He sloughed off all the ones he could find on his plants and dropped them into a bowl of beer. Then he left a trail of cornmeal out for the rest of them. He would win this battle.