Easily Confused Words: Collision vs. Collusion

Collision and Collusion 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 the “okay” though typos may still be present.

Autocorrect, a similar app, also tries to anticipate what word you want based on the first few letters. But words sharing the first few letters doesn’t mean the words are synonymous, or have similar meanings.

Collision is a noun. It means when two objects strike, or run into one another.Collision is the noun form of the verb “collide.” Collision is frequently used to describe car, bicycle, and other vehicular traffic accidents.

Collusion is a noun. It means who two or more persons agree (in secret) to commit a criminal act, like fraud. Collusion is the noun form of the verb collude.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Colleen couldn’t believe her bad luck, after being involved in a serious collision, her car insurance company accused her of being in collusion with the other driver. They suspected both drivers wanted to get new cars and felt the quickest way to do it was to total the older models they owned. “Who would risk bodily harm, inconvenience, and lost income just to get a new car?” she wondered, “that’s a lot of long term pain for so little benefit.”

Easily Confused Words: tort vs. torte

Tort and torte 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 also tries to anticipate what word you want based on the first few letters. But words sharing those first few letters doesn’t mean the words are related.

Tort is a noun, meaning a lawsuit pertaining to a wrongful act that caused injury to another person, hence that victim is entitled to financial compensation.

Here in the States, “tort reform” is a contentious issue in healthcare debates. Tort reform is intended to change the ability of a patient (or their family) to sue, and place a limit on how much cash that patient (or family) can sue for in a malpractice lawsuit. This reform, if it happened, would impact future malpractice lawsuits, but it would potentially reduce costs of malpractice insurance that many doctors currently carry, and potentially reduce the numbers of tests doctors currently run on patients to avoid making costly misdiagnoses that lead to malpractice lawsuits. But tort reform hasn’t happened yet, and that that might be more than you ever wanted to know about US medicine in 2015.

Torte is a noun, meaning a rich, flavorful cake made of eggs, nuts or breadcrumbs, and very little, if any, flour. Tortes typically have extremely thin layers that are separated by fruit, glaze, whipped cream, mousse, ganache, or frosting (icing.) Cakes, their dessert cousin, are made with more flour, and have 2-5 thick layers.

The following story uses both words correctly:

There were two things attorney Tori loved: helping her clients win their torts in court, and tortes, which she quipped, ‘were ‘torte-ally awesome.’ It could be argued that she should have become a gluten-free baker instead.

Easily Confused Words: Petty vs. Pedi

Petty and pedi are easily confused words, though I admit, the latter is more a slang abbreviation of a proper word.

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 also tries to anticipate what word you want based on the first few letters. But words sharing those first few letters doesn’t mean the words are related.

Petty is an adjective. It means small things, or things of little meaning. A second meaning refers to someone making a big deal about a small matters.  “making a mountain from a molehill.”

Pedi is a noun, it is modern slang for a “pedicure.” A pedicure means applying lacquer to one’s toenails, and all the moisturizing, trimming, shaping, etc. that precedes it. This service is typically performed by a professional in a nail salon for a fee. In English, words starting with “pedi-” or “pod-” often relate to the foot.  Examples of these words include pedicabs (aka “bicycle cab”), podiatry (foot medicine), and podiatrist (foot doctor.)

The following story uses both words correctly:

Petula knew she had a novel business idea: Pedis in a Pedicab, see a city as you have your toenails painted. When friends asked about the inevitable bumps in the road and traffic, she dismissed these as “petty concerns.”