Easily Confused Words: Mesclun vs. Mescaline

Mesclun and mescaline 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 you time. Most of the time, its suggestions produce funny, not accurate, results.

Mesclun is a noun. It’s a plate of young, fresh cut lettuce leaf varieties served all mixed together. This type of salad originated in southern France, and mesclun comes from the French verb “mesclar= to mix thoroughly.” Endive, radicchio, dandelion, and arugula are just some of the lettuce varieties featured in a US mesclun mix.

Mescaline is a noun. It’s a psychedelic drug that came into pop culture in the 1960s with other hallucinogens like LSD and mushrooms; all of the above are illegal substances in the US. Peyote, used by indigenous populations in Central America for centuries, has a similar psychological effect.

Per the Mescaline Wikipedia page, lots of famous people have used mescaline and written or talked about the experience. The 2012 indie film Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus features a character (played by Michael Cera) using mescaline.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

As Melinda surveyed her menu options, she did a double take when she read the SoCal restaurant served a variety of hearty mescaline salads (instead of mesclun salads.) Typos weren’t usually a complaint for a health inspector to make, but this was cause for alarm.

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