Easily Confused Words: Sweet vs. Sweat

Sweet and sweat 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. It can’t tell when words were left out. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass.

Similarly, autocorrect on mobile phones might suggest one word instead of the other, it would be easy to do since both words start with “s-w-e.” Autocorrect is also not perfect.

Sweat is the salty water your skin secretes when you exercise, perform physically strenuous activity, and when it’s hot outside, or a combination of those things. Your body does this so it does not overheat. Other creatures’ bodies have to avoid overheating, but they don’t all sweat.

Sweet is an adjective meaning goodness and pleasantness.

  • Sweet as a flavor or taste is like sugar or honey.
  • Sweet can describe a person’s nature or personality.
  • Sweet as an interjection means the speaker got what they wanted, and can’t believe their good fortune.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Hot, rainy summer weather means mosquitoes, but some people get more bites than others. One belief is that some people have sweet smelling skin and sweet tasting sweat, and chemical receptors in the mosquitos’ antennae pick up on that. 

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