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.

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