Easily Confused Words: Gild vs. Guild

Gild vs. guild are easily confused words and homophones.

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.

Gild is a verb, it means to coat an object with gold. Typically its used in a gerund (-ing) and past tense (-ed) form. The idiom “gild the lily” means to add too much decoration when its not needed and it may even take away from the experience it’s meant to enhance.

Guild is a noun. It means a group of craftsmen, skilled workers, or warriors. Typically, this referred to groups in medieval times, but there are modern guilds. The Graphic Artists Guild is a professional group for people who work in graphic design, they publish a yearly guide for their members on rules and policies of working as a freelance designer. And “The Guild” is a web series starring Felicia Day, it follows the adventures and misadventures of a team of gamer friends who play a video game online. The longer the team knows each other and chats online, the more their lives tend to intersect in real life.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Gilbert was a wheelwright and metalsmith guilds of his small town in 1300s. At the lord’s request, he could also add gilding to sculptures and frames.

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