Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Reputable vs. Repudiate

Reputable and repudiate 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.

Reputable (pronounced “rep-yuh-tuh-buhl”) is an adjective. It describes someone who comes highly recommended, someone with a lot of integrity, someone that does a great job at the things he/she undertakes.

For example:

  • Yelp and Zomato use crowdsourcing to connect new diners with the most reputable restaurants in their current area. Criteria includes excellent food, attentive service, and an appealing atmosphere.
  • Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor use crowdsourcing to connect homeowners with house repair and utility professionals, like reputable plumbers, gutter cleaners, and home remodeling contractors.

Repudiate (pronounced “ruh-pew-dee-ate”) is a verb. It means to negatively respond to offers or claims by others.

For example:

  • A local Roman Catholic clergyman repudiated claims by a woman that he was her father. A DNA test proved she was correct.
  • The defendant in a murder trial repudiated claims that she murdered her spouse. A money trail and a hired assailant proved she was guilty and stood to make a lot of money from a life insurance claim on her partner in the event that person died.

The following story uses both words correctly:

“Who is this Rodriguez guy? When has he served? He has no experience. He’s not reputable!” Reggie could feel his blood pressure rising. His daughter’s new boyfriend, Gerard, was asked to dinner and being an outspoken guest. Gerard had fiercely held viewpoints for a young man of 25. He repudiated every one of Reggie’s points about candidate Thomason, and Reggie wasn’t used to the pushback.

“A lot’s changed in 40 years, Mr. Johnson. The parties aren’t almost the same. That may have been true for a long time, but it’s not anymore. Thomason is giving away the store and lying to people about it. Mrs. Johnson, thank you for making a lovely dinner, but I’ve lost my appetite. I think I should leave for now.”

He turned to his girlfriend. “Good night, Regina. I’ll see you tomorrow at class.”

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Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Whaling vs. Wailing

Whaling and wailing 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.

Whaling (pronounced “way-lihng”) has multiple meanings.

  • It can mean hunting for whales, or commercial whaling. In the west, this was more common in the days before electricity. Whale blubber was used to make oil for lamps and wax for candles. This business continued until whales were hunted to near extinction. In 1986, the IWC (International Whaling Commission) established a moratorium on commercial whaling so species had time to recover. This year, Japan withdrew from the IWC and resumed commercial whaling.
  • In indigenous communities, including Canada, Russia, and in the US state of Alaska, whaling of large whale species is part of a subsistence way of life. In warmer climates like Faroe Islands, Indonesia, and the Caribbean, dolphins and smaller species of toothed whales are hunted.
  • In pop culture, the classic novel Moby Dick is about a whaling ship in pursuit of a white whale that had taken the captain’s leg.

Wailing (pronounced “wayl-ihng”)has multiple meanings.

  • As the gerund form of the verb wail, it means crying aloud in grief or despair in the present moment, or a moment being recalled in the present.
  • As an adjective, it describes something relating to mourning or grief.
    • In Jerusalem, there is a Wailing Wall, a sacred site for prayer.
    • In contemporary folk music, there is a Canadian trio called the Wailin’ Jennys. Check out the links to learn more.

The following story uses both words correctly:

As they disembarked the whaling ship, Wade thought he could hear crying and wailing. He turned to see the captain talking to a grief stricken widow surrounded by six children. One of his shipmates, Gustave, had fallen overboard in a squall. This must be his family.

After selling their catch, the crew were heading back to the boat. Wade found the woman in the street walking back home with her children.

“You need it more than I do, ma’am,” he extended an offering of a couple bills. “I don’t have a house. My life is on the water.”

“God bless you. Would you like some stew and a bath before you head out again? I’d like to do something for your generosity.”

“Thank you, but what is your name?”

“Magda.”

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Dregs vs. Drugs

Dregs and drugs 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.

Dregs (pronounced “dr-eggs;” rhymes with begs, eggs, legs, kegs) is a noun. It is a winemaking word.

  • Literally, the dregs are the sedimentary grape bits at the bottom of a wine cask.
  • More figuratively, dregs is used to indicate something or someone at the bottom or lowest level, or the remnants or last drops of something.

In pop culture:

  • I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs, from the brim to the dregs, it pours sweet and clear, it was a very good year.” A Very Good Year,” covered by Frank Sinatra in 1966.

Drugs (pronounced “druhgs;” rhymes with hugs, thugs, bugs, tugs) is a plural noun.

  • It can refer to prescription drugs, which must be ordered by a doctor and picked up at a pharmacy.
  • It can refer to everyday remedies, called OTC medicine, which stands for “over the counter.” Headache, cold, allergy, and indigestion medicines typically fall in this category. However, due to the meth epidemic (1980s-present), pills containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine are no longer on the shelf. They often have to be requested by store staff, they require photo ID to purchase, and a signature.
  • It can refer to illegal or illicit drugs. In the US, this includes drugs like marijuana, cocaine, meth, and heroin. [In US history, alcohol was an illicit drug from 1920-1933, but this law was repealed when the policy was determined to be a failure. Alcohol is a drug but it is legally penalized when a person drinks too much and causes violent harm to others, damages property, or both.]
  • More figuratively, it can mean anything that dramatically changes how a person feels. For example, in pop music, love is likened to a drug, like in “Love Is the Drug,” by Roxy Music in 1975.
  • In the phrase “on drugs,” one person is accusing another of acting in a way that’s abnormal or not in his/her right mind. Asking someone else if they are high, on crack, etc. is a similar meaning.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Drummond was suspicious that someone on his staff was on drugs when several casks turned up emptied of wine, with just the dregs remaining. They needed to be ready for a busy wedding gift season ahead and couldn’t afford to lose inventory. He stepped up security measures on his property. But ultimately it was a phone call that tipped him off.

“Hey Dru, did you authorize your staff to sell inventory unlabeled? I am a sommelier at D’artagnans. They said we had something new and it tastes just like your Thoroughbred Red. When I asked how we got it they said a blonde woman had brought it by.”

Oh no. Debbie? It was hard to learn that one of his hardest working staffers had bottled some wine and sold it to get extra cash. When he confronted her about it, she teared up in humiliation. He learned it wasn’t drugs, but a family gambling problem that had gotten out of hand. It was really hard, but he had to let her go.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Perceptive vs. Perspective

Perceptive and perspective 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.

Perceptive (pronounced “puhr-sehp-tihv”) is an adjective. It describes someone who picks up on details, whether they are visual, or more behavioral.

Perspective (pronounced “puhr-speck-tihv”) is a noun. It means a vantage point or point of view.

  • For example, in drawing:
    • One point perspective means drawing lines extending or radiating from one point, usually in the center of the page. Using those lines as guides, an artist can draw objects in the foreground–buildings, furniture, or other geometric shaped things, then erase the radiating guidelines. Check out a video of someone drawing a school hallway.
    • Two point perspective means guidelines are drawn radiating from two points on the page, often the right and left sides. Lines are drawn radiating from these points, and where those lines intersect or cross indicates the corner of a building or other geometric shape. As the drawing is finished, the guidelines are erased. Check out a video here.
  • Perspective can also mean an individuals point of view, how he/she sees the world or a specific issue based on his/her experiences.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Persson thought he submitted a perceptive story on local government initiatives and expected to get an A on the story. His professor thought otherwise. He got a C for not including more perspectives from locals, like truckers and delivery people, who would be potentially be impacted by a 5 cent tax increase at the gas pump.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Aspen vs. Aspic

Aspen and aspic 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.

Aspen (pronounced “asp-ihn”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a deciduous tree species. It has teardrop shaped leaves that have serrated edges. The stems of the leaves are flat rather than tubular. As a result, when the wind blows, the leaves move can wave in all directions. Check out a video here. in fall, aspen leaves turn saffron yellow or shades of orange. These trees are native to the US Plains and Midwest. They also grow across Canada and Mexico.
  • As a proper noun, it means a town in the center of the US western state of Colorado. Aspen is popular for skiing in winter.

Aspic (pronounced “asp-ick”) is a noun. It is a food word. It means a gelatin-based dish served cold. It is made from meat stock and gelatin, and it also includes vegetables, herbs, and pieces of meat or fish. In the US, it was a popular dinner item in the 1950s-1960s, but then fell out of fashion.

  • It is made from meat stock and gelatin, and it also includes vegetables, herbs, and pieces of meat or fish. In the US, it was a popular dinner item in the 1950s-1960s, but then fell out of fashion. Aspics are molded in a ring, fish, or other metal pan shape as they cool.
  • Tomato aspic is served at summer picnics and luncheons. Check out a recipe here.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Aspasia looked perplexed at the offerings on the table. She and some friends met at a local park in Aspen for a spring picnic.

“What is that?”

Leksi said, “Kholodet, it’s a vegetable aspic we had back in Ukraine. Have you never had one before?”

“I can’t say that I have.” Aspasia lifted a wedge of it onto her plate. She was’t expecting to like it.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Rind vs. Rhine

 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.

Rind (pronounced “ryend;”rhymes with kind, hind, find, bind) is a noun. It is the hard exterior of aged cheese, or cheese that’s coated in wax.

Rhine (pronounced “ryenn;” rhymes with wine, fine, mine, sine, line) is a proper noun. It means a major river of central Europe. It starts in Switzerland, winds through Germany, and empties into the North Sea.

  • Rhine wine is grown in this region of Europe. It is white, light, and sweet compared to other white wines like Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, which are dry.
  • The rhinestone, a white gemstone used a cheaper alternative to diamonds, come from this river.

The following story uses both words correctly:

After taking a sip of Rhine wine and nibbling the rind off a piece of Brie, Rinaldo felt pretty lucky to be working in the river cruise business. He met new people all the time. He ate better than he ever had back in Cadiz. After graduating school it was assumed he would go to work, but he just started walking one afternoon, found a bus stop, hopped on and just kept going until he was in France, then Germany.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Shallot vs. Charlotte

Shallot and Charlotte 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.

Shallot (pronounced “shal-uht;” rhymes with mallet, pallet) is a noun. It is a food word. It means a small relative of the onion, usually about 1/3 size of a red onion, and pearl onions are even smaller. A shallot has a brown papery peel and thick purple-red skin underneath. Check out a video of cooking with shallots here.

Charlotte (pronounced “shARR-luhrt;” rhymes with scarlet) has multiple meanings.

  • It can mean a chilled cake-looking dessert. Cookies, spongecakes, biscuits line a springform pan, and the inner circle is filled with custard, cheesecake, fruit, whipped cream, gelatin, or a combination of these ingredients. Check out a video of one being made here.
  • It is a female name from the French language, it is related to the masculine name “Charles.”
    • Famous Charlottes include young Princess Charlotte (UK), Charlotte Bartholdi (the model for the Statue of Liberty), Charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlotte Tilbury, and the spider in EB White’s novel Charlotte’s Web.
  • As a proper noun:
    • it is a major city in the southern US state of North Carolina. It was named after George III’s wife, Queen Charlotte. Check out a video about the city here.
    • Charlotte Russe is the name of a trendy fashion store in US malls that targets the 15-25 age groups.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Charlotte was running behind in making a dream dinner for her new love interest, Rory. So she called in a favor from Claude, who arrived in 10 minutes.

“Ok, I’m here to help, Charlotte, what do you need?”

Can you cut the shallots? If I do it my mascara will run and I don’t have time to redo my eye makeup at this point.

“You’ve got it. If I have a hot date I’m cooking for in the future, you have to be backup for me.”

“Oh, of course!”