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.

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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 gold metals are not 100% (24k) gold.

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 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.

Red has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means the first color of the rainbow, meaning it has the shortest wavelength.
  • As an adjective, it describes anything of this color, 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 is to follow words on a printed page or screen, and interpret the meaning of those words. To read aloud to speak the words as they are printed, with pauses for the end of each sentence, and where commas appear. After you read lines of text, you can tell others you’ve read them.

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

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

The fact that some people make it to high school without learning to read has many educators seeing red. 

 

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.