Easily Confused Words: Gauge vs. Gouge

Gauge and gouge are easily confused words. They aren’t homophones because they don’t sound the same, they just use many common letters. 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.

Gauge is a verb. It means to make a precise measurement. A person can also study a situation and choose a course of action based on their observations. This studying a situation can also be described as “gauging.”

Gouge is a verb. It means to punch a hole or make an indentation.

Gouge is a noun. It means the rounded blade tool, or chisel, used to dig out a hole, or make an indentation in a surface.

The following story uses both words correctly:

With gauge in hand, Georgina stopped to check her tires’ air pressure. It was just as she feared: a nail had gouged a hole in the passenger rear tire. She had a flat. ‘Looks like she wasn’t taking a road trip after all.

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