Easily Confused Words: Cedilla vs. Scintilla

Cedilla and scintilla 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.

Cedilla (pronounced US:”seh-dihl-uh”/Spanish: “seh-dee-yuh”) is a noun. It means a pronunciation symbol, shaped like a small curl, that descends from the letter “c” in non-English words. It’s telling the reader this is an “sss” sound, not a “kuh” sound.

Some example Spanish words that include a cedilla are: Curaçao, Barça

The cedilla is also seen in some French words, like Niçoise, which means “from Nice, France.” In French the cedilla is called “Le cedille.”

Other languages that use the cedilla are listed here.

Scintilla (pronounced “sihn-tihl-uh”) is a noun. It means something negligible, small, or virtually nonexistent, like a grain, a bit, a particle, a speck, or an iota.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Cedric didn’t study or practice one scintilla for his spanish exam. Naturally, when test time arrived, he was fumbling his pronunciations and he didn’t know the difference between a cedilla and a tilde.

 

 

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Easily Confused Words: Conniption vs. Contraption

Conniption and contraption 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.

Conniption (pronounced “kuh-nihp-shun”) is a noun. It means a fit of rage or hysterics. It is used negatively or disparingly.

Contraption (pronounced “kuhn-trap-shun”) is a noun. It means a manmade, typically mechanical or a technological creation. It’s another way of saying a device or a gadget.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Conlan was a fickle young man who always wanted new things. If he was told he couldn’t have the latest contraption that caught his eye, he wailed, he whined, he had a conniption. His parents were growing weary of these fits. They just couldn’t afford every new object that came along. They suggested he stay with his uncle for awhile, where going shopping was not a typical activity. 

Conlan was expected to help out on the farm while he stayed there. He and his uncle made birdhouses, animal troughs, and installed a windmill to a water well.  And during this time, he learned something about himself. As fun as it was to play with new shiny things, making new things that solved problems was even more fun.

Easily Confused Words: Accent vs. Ascent

Accent and ascent 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.

Accent (pronounced “ack-sihnt”) has multiple meanings.

  • It can mean the unique inflections people in a geographic area use when pronouncing words.
  • It can mean stress or emphasis placed on some syllables over others.
  • In pronunciation, it can mean a special punctuation mark or marks featured over letters to aid readers in pronunciation. These type marks are more formally called diacritics.
    • Two examples:
      • the umlaut (two dots over a vowel) features in German words.
      • the acute or aigu (a short line rising to the right) features over letter “e” in French words.

Ascent (pronounced “uh-ssihnt”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a physical rising of a person or object. It can also mean more figurative rising, for example, a new title or higher status in a workplace.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Accassia had worked for years at her company. She liked her job and the people she worked with. She was disappointed, however, to less experienced people have a rapid ascent to management while she stayed in place. She had actually help train several of these people. One day she could stand it no longer, so she asked one of her superiors why that was happening.

“Upper management doesn’t like your accent.”

“What?”

“It’s your accent, Accassia.”

“Are you serious? I want to be judged on what I do. I pull more than my own weight around here.” 

“They don’t like how you sound so they aren’t going to listen at your presentations.”

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Accent vs. Ascent

Easily Confused Words: Tropical vs. Topical

Tropical and topical 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.

Tropical (pronounced “traw-pih-kuhl”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, it describes a climate known for mostly sunny weather, frequent rain, and from late summer to early fall, a good chance of hurricanes. When you look at a globe, these areas are framed by the Tropic of Cancer down to the Equator, and the Tropic of Capricorn up to the Equator.
  • As a noun, it means items related to a tropical climate in some way. The lightweight clothes and shoes that a person would wear to be comfortable are tropicals.

Topical (pronounced “taw-pih-kuhl”) has multiple meanings.

As an adjective:

  • It describes something contemporary, trending, or of the moment. For example, a topical discussion might include one or more of the following:
    • What political leaders are doing
    • Fashion
    • Weather behavior
    • Current issues and problems
  • In dermatology (skin medicine), it describes a prescribed ointment or gel applied to the skin for a desired result, like wrinkle or acne treatment. This word may also be used in over-the-counter products designed for the skin, like sunscreen, moisturizer, or first aid ointment.

As a noun, in philately (stamp collecting), it means a set of stamps with different artwork but pertaining to one central theme. For example, throughout the year, the USPS issues topicals. There are several issued for Christmas, for love and weddings. Other more unique topicals include native animals, foods, historical figures, statehood anniversaries, black history notables, children’s characters, musicians, and other noteworthy people and things.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Topaz was delighted that the time for her vacation had arrived. She hadn’t had a break in three years. She had renewed her passport months ago. She packed her bikini, her tropical clothes, her sun hat, and her topical moisturizer and sunscreens the night before. That night she was almost too excited to sleep. This was going to be awesome. 

Easily Confused Words: Bulge vs. Bulgogi

Bulge and bulgogi 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.

Bulge (pronounced “buhlj”; rhymes with indulge) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to expand into a rounded dome like shape.
    • For example, when you blow air into a balloon, its bulbous bottom begins to bulge. After eating a big meal, your stomach can bulge with food and bloating.
  • As a noun, it means the rounded, dome-like shape created by a bulge.
  • As a proper noun, the Battle of the Bulge happened in mid-December 1944 in World War II. It was the last major German offensive, intended to force the Allies into submission on the Western side. However, it did not succeed.

Bulgogi (pronounced Korean: “Puhl-koh-key” Western corruption:”buhl-goh-ghee”) is a noun from the Korean language. It’s a culinary word literally meaning “fire meat.” Beef ribeye cut into strips, marinated then grilled. In the West, it gets looped into Korean barbeque.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Byblig was fixing a bowl of bulgogi when he noticed a bulge moving around the back of his roommate’s chair. “Hey man, there’s something alive in your chair!” Bulson leapt up. It was likely a rat. Byblig turned off the stove and the two drug the chair to the stairway. They pushed it down the stairs, then drug it out to the curb for trash pickup.

“I know we need to save money, Bulson, but I think we need to start getting furniture from a store.”

Easily Confused Words: Pulpit vs. Pupil

Pulpit and pupil 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.

Pulpit (pronounced “puhl-piht”) is a noun. It means the elevated pedestal or podium from which a preacher performs readings, and gives homilies or sermons.

Some related terms:

  • Bully pulpit A position of authority or exposure that enables a person in it to b an influence, share an agenda, or stand up for a cause. This phrase dates back to the 1890s-1900s, when Theodore Roosevelt was President.
  • Jack in the Pulpit A plant growing in marshy, boggy, and swampy areas. It looks like a stalk loosely swaddled in a single petal, or like a man standing in a shielded platform. The technical name for the stalk is spadix, the technical name for the petal is spathe.

Pupil (pronounced “pew-puhl”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it can mean the black center of the eye that expands to allow more light in, and contracts to allow less light in.
  • As a noun, it can mean another word for a student in a class or workshop.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Pulqueria was tired of being a pupil in seminary school. She was eager to get out and interact with the public, and write insightful sermons she could deliver from her own pulpit. At some point, she realized maybe she could just quit schooling and become a professional speaker, and ultimately, that’s what she did.

Easily Confused Words: Lumbar vs. Lumber

Lumbar and lumber 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.

Lumbar (pronounced “luhm-barr”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a proper noun, it refers to the lower six bones in the human spine that connect to the hip bone. Read more about that here.
  • As an adjective, it describes things or products related to the back or spine. For example, a chair that provides “lumbar support.” When lifting heavy objects, you are advised to not to strain your lumbar region, but instead, stick out your butt to lift with your leg muscles.

Lumber (pronounced “luhm-buhr”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, wood cut from forests and sold to paper production or construction-related businesses.
  • As a verb, it means to walk clumsily or without grace.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Lumen was at the hardware store buyings supplies for her latest house-flipping project. As she was lifting pieces of lumber onto her cart, she felt a shooting pain in her lower back. She dropped the wood and fell to the floor. A sales associate rushed over to help. “Are you okay?” he asked. “Yes. But I could use some help. I think I pulled a muscle in my lumbar region.” The associate used their walkie-talkie to call for back up.