Easily Confused Words: Suet vs. Sweet

Suet and sweet 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.

Suet is a noun. It means animal fat in a solid form. Sometimes people will hang large blocks of suet from a tree. Birds will eat suet year round, but it’s more helpful when food is scarce, as it is in winter. Suet can also be used in cooking to add flavor and help with vitamin absorption. In the American South, many vegetables, like collards and green beans, are cooked in animal fat for these reasons.

Sweet has multiple forms, all meaning “pleasing, or pleasant” in a variety of ways:

  • Sweet as a flavor is sugary, like honey.
  • Sweet can describe a person’s nature, if they are gentle, kind, upbeat, and/or generous.
  • Sweet! as an interjection arrived in the late 1990s-early 2000s. When something had a good or a surprising outcome, the person it occurred to might say this in response. He or she can’t believe their luck or good fortune.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Susie, a food critic, was on her first assignment. She ordered a dish made with suet. It was good, but it tasted more greasy and salty than the sweetness she was expecting.

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