Easily Confused Words: Indict vs. Incite

Indict* and incite are easily confused words, they share all but one letter. The spell-check of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up among these two words. As long as it’s a word and it is spelled correctly, spell-check keeps on scanning the document. Autocorrect could also confuse these two since it relies heavily on words that share the first 2-3 letters.

Indict is a verb that’s pronounced “ind-eye-tt,” the ‘c’ is silent.  It is a legal term meaning to bring formal charges against an accused person or organization. The person or organization is accused, then indicted, then at the end of the trial, convicted.

Incite is a verb. It means to be a cause for the start of something, to motivate. Inciting is used to describe human behavior.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

When the Governor was told the State Legislature had plans to indict, she claimed that party advisors helped incite her dubious, corrupt actions.

This post relates to another one: Easily Confused Words: Insight vs. Incite.

Easily Confused Words: Metal vs. Medal

Metal and medal are homophones and easily confused words. The spell-check of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up among these three words. As long as it’s a word and it is spelled correctly, spell-check keeps on scanning the document.

Metal is a noun. It refers to elemental materials like copper, iron, aluminum blended with carbon to make a variety of materials. Going far back into history, periods of western civilization were defined by metals of that time.

Medal is a noun. Short for “medallions”, it means a round disk hanging on a ribbon lanyard awarded to winning athletes, scientists, or academics.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

Olympic medals are traditionally made with metal, though Olympic gold medals are not 100% (24k) gold.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Medaling vs. Meddling.

Easily Confused Words: Prostate vs. Prostrate

Prostate and prostrate are easily confused words. Spell-check and autocorrect could easily miss a slip-up of these words, or suggest the one you didn’t want.

Prostate (pronounced “pr-aw-stayt”) is a noun. It means a gland in the reproductive system of human males. The urethra runs through the prostate, and the prostate releases additional fluid to the sperm and seminal fluid to ease transit and enhance the likelihood of conception. Prostate fluid is alkaline, this neutralizes vaginal acid, capable of killing most sperm before they reach the egg.

Prostrate (pronounced “pr-oh-strayt”) is a verb. It means to fall to the ground in a gesture of submission, defeat, or humility, towards a deity, another country, or another person. When inanimate objects fall or fail, they can be described as “falling prostrate” as well.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

The doctor noticed his temp had accidentally typed “prostrate cancer” instead of “prostate cancer” in a patient’s file, it was hard to hold back a chuckle at this mistake. Even the chronically clumsy can’t develop ‘prostrate cancer,’ he thought.

Easily Confused Words: Red vs. Read

Red and read are easily confused words and homophones. 

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.

Red has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means the first color of the rainbow, meaning it has the longest wavelength.
  • As an adjective, it describes anything of this color, or possessing this color: blood, many bricks, cardinal birds, and bullfighters capes, red is one of the most visible colors for all animals.

Read is a verb. It is spelled the same way in the present (pronounced “reed”) and past tense (pronounced as “red”) for the same idea.

To read (present tense) is to follow words on a printed page or screen, and interpret the meaning of those words.

To read (present tense) aloud to speak the words as they are printed, with pauses for the end of each sentence, and where commas appear.

After you read (present tense) lines of text, you can tell others you’ve read (past tense) them.

[TRIVIA: Cities named “Reading,” in England and the US state of Pennsylvania, are pronounced “redding.”]

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

The fact that some people are admitted into high school without being able to read has many educators seeing red. 

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 18, 2014, AT 9:00 A.M.

Easily Confused Words: Pistol vs. Pistil

Pistol and pistil are easily confused words: change just one letter adn you have a whole new word. The spell-check of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up among these words. As long as it’s a word and it is spelled correctly, spell-check keeps on scanning the document.

Pistol is a noun. It means a handgun with a short barrel intended to be fired using just one hand. Rifles, muskets, and older models of guns require two hands for steadiness while firing at game or the enemy.

Pistil is a noun. It is the female part of the flower that extends from the center, on lilies its the largest protrusion from the center, and it has a three-lobed knob at its top.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

Odd things show up in military journals and trunks, like botanical drawings, proving that some drafted soldiers were more interested in pistils than pistols.

[Thanks to Lovelitter blog for a source for this sentence.]

Easily Confused Words: World vs. Whirled

World and whirled are easily confused words. The spell-check of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up among these three words. As long as it’s a word and it is spelled correctly, spell-check keeps on scanning the document.

World is a noun. It means a planet, or a state of existence. A world can be physical and tactile, like planet Earth, or conceptual, like one person’s life or reality.

Whirled is a verb, it is the past tense of ‘to whirl.’ To whirl is to move in circles, spin, or spiral. A female dancer whirls in ballroom dance routines, desert sand whirls in a dust devil. [ If you don’t know what I mean by dustdevil, check out this Youtube dust devil video filmed by resident John Hargan in Arizona.]

Whirl can be a noun as well, as in the object being spun around, or a person who is feeling he or she is being spun around, or confused, or tugged into multiple directions.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

Overwhelmed by exams, extracurricular activities, and wedding planning, Wilhemina felt her world had whirled out of control. 

Easily Confused Words: Farmer vs. Pharma

Farmer and Pharma are easily confused words.  Spell-check in most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up among these three words. As long as it’s a word and it is spelled correctly, spell-check keeps on scanning the document.

Farmer is a noun. It means a man or woman who’s primary occupation is growing plants for food or animal feed on several plots of land, and/or raising animals as well. The animals either provide a food or drink byproduct, are raised for food themselves, or  help perform work around the farm.

Pharma is a noun, again, it’s slang. Its a nickname for the large pharmaceutical (controlled substances, prescription drugs) industry of the US. To obtain prescription drugs in the US, you have to consult a pharmacist to dispense that medication. A pharmacist works in a drugstore chain, their own shop, or the pharmacy department of a grocery store. Like a lot of medical terms, “pharma” is a prefix with classic Greek & Latin roots.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

The modern organic food movement encourages consumers to trust their farmer, instead of Big Pharma.

Easily Confused Words: Premier vs. Premiere

Premier and premiere are homophones and easily confused words. The spell-check of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up among these two words. As long as it’s a word and it is spelled correctly, spell-check keeps on scanning the document.

Premier is a noun, meaning the head of the cabinet in some countries’ governments, like France and Italy. This role is equivalent to the Prime Minister.

Premiere is a noun. It means the first appearance or debut of an art display, a live theater performance, a dance performance, or a film’s first showing in a cinema.  Premiere can also be a verb, meaning when a performance or film making its debut to audiences.

Both premier and premiere stem from primary, which means first.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

The premier of Angeleria* had planned to attend the premiere of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, but an earthquake in her home country changed her plans.

*=fictional country

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Primer vs. Premier

Easily Confused Words: Steel vs. Steal

Steel and steal are homophones and easily confused words. The spell-check of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up among these three words. As long as it’s a word and it is spelled correctly, spell-check keeps on scanning the document.

Steel is a noun. It means a metal material composed of iron and carbon. Steel is melded into a variety of objects for bridge and building construction, security gates, household cookware, surgical tools, and even some fashion undergarments.

Steel can also be an adjective. In this sense, it is figurative. It means someone or something strong and tough, or, rigid and unwavering: Superman is the “man of steel”(strength), focused athletes might have “nerves of steel” because they perform without perceivable fear (rigid, unwavering).

Steal is a verb.  It means when someone takes property or possessions that are not their own, or takes items for sale at a business, and doesn’t pay for them.

Steal can also be a noun. When someone buys something at an incredibly cheap price, he or she might say they got ‘a steal.’

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

In economically depressed communities, it is not uncommon for people to steal copper and steel materials that can be sold for quick cash.

Easily Confused Words: Recuse vs. Rescue

Rescue and Recuse are easily confused words, swapping just a few letters around creates a whole new word. Spell-check in word processing applications and autocorrect would fail to catch a slip-up of these two words.

Rescue (pronounced “ress-kyoo”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means aiding of someone or something else in trouble.
  • As a noun, it means the rescue event. For example, like a lifeguard coming to the rescue of a drowning swimmer.

Recuse (pronounced “reck-yooz”) is a verb. It means to remove oneself from a decision, a team, or other position of power due to a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest is any situation where a subject’s family, his/her former places of employment, his/her investments are making it hard to be unbiased in a new situation. For example, this new situation can be a legal case, an appointment to a charity or corporation’s board of directors, in short, it is some important, influential position.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

Isolde had hoped her brother, Senator Isaac Stevensson, would come to her rescue, but his looming re-election campaign lead him to recuse himself from any involvement in her legal case.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Recluse vs. Recuse