Easily Confused Words: Udder vs. Utter

Udder and utter are homophones and easily confused words.

Spell-check in word processing programs doesn’t check homophone errors. What spell-check does is look for the words that aren’t in its internal dictionary, and words that aren’t spelled like those in its internal dictionary. If you used a word that exists and that word is spelled correctly, spell-check continues scanning. Spell-check doesn’t ask about context. Autocorrect on phones is also clumsy in its attempts to guess what you want to say next.

Udder is a noun. It is the term for the teats (that contain mammary glands) of domesticated cows and goats. Udders are located near the hind legs of female animals.

Utter has multiple forms.

  • As an adjective, it’s more of a qualifier than a descriptor, like “very.” For example, utter catastrophe, utter happiness, utter disappointment, utter joy.
  • As a verb, to utter means to say something in a low, soft spoken, barely audible voice.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

Morton knew if there was no grass, there would be no milk from the udder, so attempting to milk every morning would be an utter failure.

This post relates to other posts: Easily Confused Words: Utter vs. Otter vs. Other

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