Easily Confused Words: Site vs. Sight vs. Cite

Site and sight 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.

Site is a noun. It means a physical, or a virtual location. For instance, right now you’re looking at a website. Your home is on a physical site.

Sight has multiple forms, but it means seeing, or what is seen with the eyes.

  • Sight the noun means something within your current visual perception.
  • Sighted the past tense adjective is an optometry term. It forms a compound word: you wear glasses because you can’t see distances, you are nearsighted. If you can’t see up close, you are farsighted.
  • Sights the plural noun is a travel term. When you go to Paris, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre are typical sights you go to see.
  • Sight the verb is the act of seeing, the moment something was discovered: you caught sight of a lost earring on the floor.

Cite is a verb, it means to indicate written or verbal credit for someone else’s work as it relates to your own. It is a writing and communications term. When you write an essay or dissertation, you have to find reference material to support your paper’s points. The act of quoting someone else’s work, or numbering your work with footnotes that mentions others’ work is “citing” your references, you “cite” each one individually.

If you use others artwork or photos on a website, you need to mention the creator and the license of that artwork that allows you to use it.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Celine was challenged by the website she was asked to create: her client didn’t cite their artwork and photography sources, and they selected a color scheme that was a sorry sight with their logo. 

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