Easily Confused Words: Incest vs. Ingest

Incest and Ingest are easily confused words. Change one letter, it’s a whole new word with a very different meaning.

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 as your typing. Sometimes it is exactly right, other times, not really.

Incest is a noun. It means sexual relations between family members. In many places in the world, this is considered morally wrong behavior and typically illegal as a result.

Ingest is a verb. It means to eat or drink something, but it’s not used very often, unless someone, like an unattended toddler, accidentally ingested something toxic or poisonous and has to be rushed to a hospital.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Innocencia was a court appointed child advocate: she represented young victims of incest and abuse. The hardest part was reading her client’s case files and hearing testimony. Hearing the atrocities committed against her clients turned her stomach, and made it difficult to ingest anything come lunchtime. 

This post is related to another post: Easily Confused Words: Invest vs. Incest.

Easily Confused Words: Engine vs. Ingenuity

Engine and Ingenuity 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 suggests words that start with the same letters. It suggests what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions couldn’t be more off base and produces humorous results.

Engine is a noun. It means the heart of a car, a truck, a locomotive, or a boat where thermal energy is converted to mechanical energy to create motion.

Ingenuity is an adjective. Ingenuity is when someone demonstrates inspired skill and originality in bringing a brand new creation to life, or improving a process in a revolutionary way. Henry Ford, Nikolai Tesla, Virginia Apgar, and Ada Lovelace are people you could describe as possessing ingenuity in their fields.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Engla hoped her engine that ran on echinacea seed oil displayed enough ingenuity to win at the science fair.

Easily Confused Words: Shore vs. Sure

Shore and sure 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. It also doesn’t catch when a word was left out of a sentence.

Autocorrect also isn’t perfect. It suggests words that start with the same letters as you type. It’s trying to save time and effort, but quite often, its suggestions couldn’t be more off base and produces humorous results.

Sure is an adjective, it emphasizes affirmative, definite intent or activity. For example, a sure thing is going to happen, saying I sure will, I sure do means you are going to do what you say you would.

By itself, it can also be an affirmative response, indicating consent or agreement. Based on my personal experience, though, “sure” is not as warmly received as “yes!” or “definitely”, there’s some hesitation being expressed when someone says “sure.” “Sure!” with an exclamation point, or said quickly and enthusiastically, sounds more encouraging to the other party.

Surely is an adverb, and like sure, it indicates intent–something definite, something affirmative. In the sentence “surely you can’t be serious?” the speaker is asking if someone really means what they said, or was it a joke, or said to get an alarmed reaction?

Shore is a noun. It means the coast of a land mass, where the waves break and leave sea creatures and shells behind. Shores can be sandy, shores can be muddy and rocky, shores can be barren or covered in plants.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

Shirelle was sure that spending summer on the shores of the Seychelles after graduation was her best bet for a great time.

SIDEBAR:

So have you seen shirts or other souvenirs at US beaches that say “it’s a shore thing”? This is a pun of “it’s a sure thing” and that shore sounds like sure. The phrase “it’s a shore thing” could mean “it’s is a beach culture thing, if you don’t love the beach you don’t understand” or “the beach is definitely the place to be”, or a little of both.

Civil, Domestic, and Friendly

Taking a break from Easily Confused Words to cover a few words that are usually nice or pleasant: Civil, Domestic, and Friendly.

What’s interesting is, when these three modify certain words, they completely change tone, mood, or personality.

Civil is an adjective with multiple meanings:

  • relating to citizens of a specific city, county, state, or country.
  • well-behaved, polite, meeting the standards of acceptable behavior in a culture: civil discourse

Civility is noun. It means someone behaving with a high degree of politeness, courtesy, and respect.

I think civil as it relates to behavior is used more often than civil as it relates to government or citizens.

______________________

Domestic as an adjective with multiple meanings.

  • relating to issues within a city, county or country that are under its jurisdiction or control.
  • Something within a house, apartment or other home dwelling
  • Something relating to a house, apartment or other home dwelling
  • Something relating to a family, romantic partnership, or martial partnership

Domesticate is a verb, it means to tame a wild creature to serve a human needs. Domesticated is an adjective, it means the creature that was tamed.

_______________________

Friendly is an adverb. It describes a person or a creature with a pleasant personality or temperament. If a dog approaches you wagging its tail, this means it’s not afraid of you, it doesn’t think you’re dangerous, and wants to greet you and stroke its fur.

So, that’s civil, domestic, and friendly. Now let’s look at phrases that dramatically alter their usual meanings.

Domestic violence: Domestic violence is physical harm caused by people against one another, often within a home or residence. Both the type of relationship involved between the people (family members, lovers, married partners, ex-lovers or ex-married partners), and where the violence took place determines whether it is a domestic violence situation. Domestic violence can be recurring, it can escalate, or randomly erupt into deadly behavior without prior incident. Domestic violence can extend to family members, friends, or roommates. The following link at Safe Harbor has statistics on domestic violence in the US.

Domestic terrorism: Domestic terrorism is a violent, deadly act performed by a citizen or resident against other citizens or residents of their shared country. Domestic terrorism can happen as a result of one person’s acts, a group’s acts, or one person claiming they’re acting on behalf of a group or a ideology.

If there are common themes among domestic terrorist acts, it’s often committed by persons who think killing and/or wounding others is a way to inspire fear and intimidation in the general public or a sector of the public, and to give their political agenda attention as a result. Examples of domestic terrorism include using guns, fire or explosives and targeting public spaces, government, or religious buildings. Assassinating an elected leader, a monarch, or monarch’s family is murder, but it’s also done for domestic terrorism or revolution-inspired reasons. When the Archduke was killed in Sarajevo in 1914 by a Gavrilo Princip, a member of the Black Hand, it was intended to provoke Austro-Hungarian empire leadership and their allies to react. And react they did, World War I started not long after this event.

Domestic as it modifies terrorism means “on shared territory, committed between parties of a common nation.” Examples of domestic terrorist groups in the United States can be found here. And it certainly doesn’t just happen just in the US. Had Guy Fawkes succeeded in blowing up the English Parliament in 1605, we would think of him as a domestic terrorist, instead of a thwarted, unsuccessful domestic terrorist. V in the V for Vendetta graphic novel (movie was in 2005) is a domestic terrorist in a Fascist Oppressive England.

Civil War: A civil war takes place within a country among rival parties or factions. The US fought a civil war from 1861-1865, Spain had a civil war between 1936-1939, the English fought a civil war from 1642-1652. France also had a number of internal conflicts as well, but for some reason, in English, these are more commonly called revolutions, not civil wars. [If you know a war historian with a blog who might know what’s a revolution versus a civil war, feel free to ping me their website.]

There are civil wars being fought today in 2015, including Yemen and many countries on the African continent.

Friendly fire: Friendly fire means being wounded or killed by a fellow soldier. It can happen either by accident, or even worse, on purpose. General Stonewall Jackson was accidentally killed by his own men during the US Civil War. For a list of other friendly fire incidents in history from all over the globe, click here.

Domestic violence, domestic terrorism, civil war, and friendly fire, four terms that are not good things.

It’s common in human nature to fear what’s different: strangers, or people who are different from ourselves. They may be different in one way, or multiple ways: different skin tone, different hair, different religious beliefs, different clothes, different political beliefs.

These four terms are evidence that just because something is familiar or native, it doesn’t mean that nothing can ever go wrong between ourselves and those like us, and the persons in relationships with us. Relationships are actually full of conflict the longer they last. How we handle conflict says a lot about us. Communication, listening, and being willing to change are always key.

I’d like to add that those we don’t know yet, or who are different from us, aren’t bad people, or out to do us harm as much our primal instincts or any hearsay would have us believe.

Life is full of paradoxes, or contradictions, that way.

Easily Confused Words: Annal vs. Anal

Annal and Anal 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.

Similarly, autocorrect on mobile phones might suggest one word instead of the other, it would be easy to do since both words start with “a-n.”

Annal is a noun. It means a written records and media created yearly, and preserved for history. Sometimes a yearbook produced by a school is called an “annual” which is related to the word annal.

Anal is an adjective. In medicine, it means procedures or medicines that function in or around the anus, the hole between the buttocks. In popular psychology, “anal” is short for “anal-rententive,”  someone who is exacting, very detailed, very neat, very particular about everything they do and what other people do for them.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Annalee was an expert treasurer and yearbook editor, but some of her classmates felt she was pretty anal about maintaining annals in her charge. 

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

Easily Confused Words: Bare vs. Bear

Bare and Bear 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.

Bare is an adjective. It means void of content, or naked. For example, empty shelves at the grocery are “bare.”

Bear is a noun. It means large mammals that living in the forests of the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia known for thick fur, short rounded ears, small eyes, large noses, and huge paws. Some bears are eat only plants, while others eat fish and other animals.

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

The following story uses both words correctly:

Bailey visited the National Park hoping to see bears, deer, foxes, and wolves, but instead the forests were mysteriously bare. There was no trace of life.

Easily Confused Words: Its vs. It’s

Its and It’s are easily confused words. In the world of easily confused words, its and it’s have to be in the top five of most confused of all time. Their, they’re and there are also in the Top Five.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of its and it’s. 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.

Spell-check 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 suggests what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions couldn’t be more off base and produces humorous results.

Its indicates an object belonging to someone or something.

It’s is a contraction formed by “It is.” These words indicate something is performing an action.

What’s a simple way to avoid an “it’s/its” mistake? Proofread your draft and everywhere it says “its/it’s”, say “it is” instead. If “it is” sounds right, make sure there’s an apostrophe between the t and s. If saying “it is” sounds wrong and inappropriate, make sure there’s no apostrophe or spacing; this is situation for a possessive “its.” Maybe you noticed above, I highlighted all the possessive “its” so they were more noticeable.

The following story uses both words correctly:

As a veterinary assistant, Itotia cares for exotic baby animals at the zoo. She gives each animal its food and any required medication several times a day, and monitors each one to confirm it’s alive and feeling well.