Easily Confused Words: Pastitsio vs. Pastiche

Pastitsio and pastiche are easily confused words.

Pastitsio (pronounced “pas-teet-see-oh”) is a food word from the Greek language. It refers to a layered casserole featuring seasoned ground meat (goat, sheep, cow), bechamel sauce, and tube-shaped (rigatoni, penne) noodles. Here’s a video demonstration from Aki’s Kitchen, a Greek celebrity chef. This dish is a cousin to Italy’s lasagna.

Pastiche (pronounced “pah-steesh”; “pa-steesh”) is a noun. It is an art term from French.

  • It refers to a work of art, music or other creation that draws from multiple sources.
  • More generally, it means a hodge-podge or motley assortment of things.

The following story uses both words correctly:

It was Pasha’s turn to make dinner. He had planned to make pastitsio for dinner. It wasn’t until he started cooking that he noticed there was no meat in the freezer or the fridge. So he made more of “casserole de pastiche”: a creamy bechamel sauce with an assortment of vegetables, cannellini beans, and some noodles. It was like a chicken pot pie minus the crust and the chicken. He also warmed up some bread with butter and garlic seasoning on it.

The family was so hungry they cleaned the casserole dish and never noticed the mistake.

Advertisements

Easily Confused Words: Statute vs. Stature

Statute and stature 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.

Statute (pronounced “statch-yoot”) is a noun. It is a legal term. The most well-known example is probably the “statute of limitations,” which means the limited timeframe a victim has to pursue a lawsuit for damages against their perpetrator.

Stature (pronounced “stach-yoor”; rhymes with catcher, thatcher) is a noun. It refers to social status in their community, in their company, or other social groupings.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Stavra Starling was concerned the statute of limitations had run out, but she needed to tell her story. Years ago, as a starlet, Steele Stijn, famous movie producer, had asked to meet at his hotel about her career. She was very excited he thought she had potential. But when she arrived his staff disappeared and he asked for sexual favors in exchange for casting in his films. Her lack of cooperation would mean getting blacklisted. She had come to the movie business seeking a ticket to help her family. So, at the time, she did as he wished, but it would haunt her for years.

Now it was some 20 years later. Other actresses, production assistants, and people in the film community had come forward with their stories about other high-profile movie executives asking for favors for work opportunities. If she wasn’t alone, why was she scared to come forward? It could mean a loss of stature for Stijn or for herself. Once it was reported, she couldn’t take it back. Keeping things to herself had been an odd sort of security for her for so long now, it was uncomfortable to choose to change the format now. But then she thought of young women getting into movies, and wanting a better, more professional environment for them, and she knew she had to come forward. 

Easily Confused Words: Film vs. Phlegm

Film and phlegm 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.

Film (pronounced “fih-lmm”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it can mean the celluloid recording of moving pictures, or movies. Today digital recording is used more than actual tape, but the language remains.
  • As a verb, it can mean the act of recording scenes to film or digital media.
  • As a noun, in medicine, it can mean another word for x-rays or imaging taken of a patient’s body.
  • As a noun, it can also mean a hazy layer of dirt on glass or another surface that is supposed to be transparent.

Phlegm (pronounced “flehmm”; rhymes with gem, hem) is a noun. It is another word for mucus found in lower airways. People don’t notice phlegm until they are sick and coughing it up.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Philomena was fighting a lot of congestion and phlegm as she wrapped up filming a documentary for film school. All that coughing was making her chest hurt, and she wasn’t getting a lot of sleep because she stayed up late to review the footage and edit it. After her film was completed, she finally went to the docto. She learned she had bronchitis.

Easily Confused Words: Censor vs. Censure

Censor and censure 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.

Censor (pronounced “sihn-suhr”) is a verb. It means to block or prohibit content, or portions of content, from being shared with an audience, or a subset of an audience. Typically censoring is done by one person to another, or one organization to a famous person.

For example, in the US, obscene words and full nudity are not allowed on over-the-air network television, and obscene words are also not allowed on AM/FM radio stations. (Radio and television that is subscribed to, like Sirius radio, HBO television, Showtime television, and streaming content aren’t subject to these rules.)

So should someone use a forbidden word on television, the audio of the words gets bleeped out (assuming the usage was scripted or otherwise anticipated), and the nudity of female nipples, bare buttocks, and genitalia are blurred within a circular blurry masking shape. But mistakes happen when the unexpected happens. One time for an unexpected exposure was the wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Superbowl Halftime show featuring Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake.

Censure (pronounced “sihn-shurr”) is a verb.

  • It means to formally denounce or rebuke someone else’s words or actions after they have been shared or performed. Typically this word is used in government or organizational settings.
  • It means a general rebuke or harsh criticism.

The following story uses both words correctly:

During a particularly heated debate on a water quality bill, Senator Cynthia Thompson, a member of the minority party, dropped an f-bomb. She was immediately censured by the majority party. The majority leader also attempted to censor her contributions to future debates. When she asked to have the floor, he declined, and said “we cannot afford another spectacle like the last one you caused, Senator.” 

It wasn’t that they hadn’t heard the word before, although it was unconventional for the Senate floor. Rather, this issue was contentious one, and this Senator Thompson was a thorn in their side. Lobbyists for major companies had a vested interest in no one getting in their way or questioning their waste management practices in her district. The f-bomb incident was just an excuse to silence her arguments. Senator Thompson passed on her findings to her Senate peers. Pediatricians in her district had shared with her that showed children’ blood samples indicated the presence of lead. Likely, they were being poisoned by local water supplies where big industries had been illegally dumping their waste for years. The community’s residents needed to get access to better water just 10 miles away.  The problem? A big bottled water company, which also had lobbyists, that claimed a proprietary interest to this aquifer was making things difficult. 

 

Easily Confused Words: Pen vs. Pin

Pen and pin are easily confused words. They are also homophones, meaning they sound the same, but are spelled 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.

Pen (pronounced “peh-nn”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it can mean an ink-based writing instrument.
  • As a noun, it can mean a small enclosure for livestock or farm animals.
  • As a verb, it can mean “to write;” for example, She penned an op-ed (a letter for the opinion-editorial page in the newspaper) in response to the mayor’s recent state of the city speech. 

Pin (pronounced “pihn”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it can mean a button, brooch that uses a pin and clasp mechanism to attach to clothing or luggage.
  • As a noun, it can mean a piece of pointed metal used for sewing.
  • As a verb, it can mean to affix something to a surface using a pin.
  • As a verb, it can mean to hold a person or living thing down so that it can’t move.
  • As a verb, on Twitter and other social media, it means to make one particular post permanent at the top of your page.
  • As a verb, it can mean to associate an idea or cause with a person.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Pendragon penned a letter to his aunt the ambassador. He wanted to write a book about her life and career. She had a massive pin and brooch collection that he wanted to photograph, accompanied by her stories from her eight years in the job. 

Easily Confused Words: Seminole vs. Seminal

Seminole and seminal 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.

Seminole (pronounced “sem-ih-nohwl”) is a proper noun. It refers to a tribe of indigenous Americans (aka Native Americans) that live in Florida. The tribe gave Florida State University permission to use its tribal name for their football team.

Seminal (pronounced “sihm-ihn-uhl”) is an adjective.

It describes:

  • In biology, something relating to semen.
  • In botany and horticulture, something relating to seeds.
  • In a more figurative sense, something original, unique, and trailblazing in a particular field, something with the promise of future offspring or offshoots.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Sehoy Steele, a native of Florida and a member of the Seminole tribe, held her first art exhibition in the summer of 1964. She was 21 years old and had just graduated college. This show got a lot of media attention. It was a seminal moment that renewed public interest in native American art and spawned a Renaissance within the native community. 

The above story is fiction, but you can check out real art here at the Seminole tribe of Florida website, check out a 2018 exhibition catalog from the Orlando Museum of Art here, and check out the Seminole Nation Museum site here.

Easily Confused Words: Heirs vs. Airs

Heirs and airs 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.

Heirs (pronounced “errs” with a silent h; rhymes with fares, fairs, stairs) is the plural of the noun “heir.”

  • An heir is a son or daughter who inherits money or estate items from their parents, grandparents, or another benefactor. “Heirs” would indicate that several children–sons, daughters, or both–stand to inherit things from their parents.
  • In royal houses, “heir” indicates someone in line for the throne after the current monarch dies. “Heirs” would indicate more than one person is in line for the throne. For example, in England right now, heirs to the throne include Prince Charles, Prince Edward (Duke of Cambridge), Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, Prince Harry (Duke of Sussex), and the recently wedded Princess Eugenie.

Airs (pronounced “errs”; rhymes with hairs, fairs, stairs) has multiple meanings.

  • It can be the plural of the noun air, meaning a piece of dancing music originating in the UK.
  • It can the plural of the noun air, in the phrase “put on airs,” which means to act cocky or like a big deal.
  • As a verb, it is the “he/she/it” form, it means to verbalize or speak aloud, as in the phrase “air one’s grievances.”

The following story uses both words correctly:

Arlene decided that, out of her four potential heirs, she would leave her home and a great deal of money to Hiram. They had always had a special relationship. Things weren’t as warm with the other children, Arlo, Harold, and Hermia. They were spoiled or treated her with contempt. On the rare occasion they did visit, Hermia airs her grievances about how hard it was when she grew up. Harold always complained about dinner. Arlo talked to his mother like she was a simpleton.