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:

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