Easily Confused Words: Emote vs. Remote

Emote and remote 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.

Emote is a verb. It means to express emotions, whether it’s joy, sadness or anger, or pretend to show emotions. Gifted actors know a lot about how to emote on command and be believable.

Remote has multiple forms, all relating to “distance” in relationship to something else:

  • Remote the adjective means a person or thing distant from other human contact or manmade structures: businesses, communications media, and technology. Remote areas can have any terrain, but they are populated by animals, plants, and rocks more than people. High-end vacation resorts tend to locate in remote, or semi-remote areas in order to fulfill the promise of solitude, peace and quiet to their guests.
  • Remote can also mean a more abstract distance, like two ideas having no “remote” connection. This means they have no similarities or common ground.
  • Remote the noun is a controller for a device that isn’t attached to that device by a cable, cord or wire. Instead, a device inside the remote is communicating with a mechanism in the appliance. Typically, remotes run on batteries, so when they aren’t working, the first question to ask is if they need new batteries. Remote controls are a familiar to anyone operating a television made in the 1980s and after. Before that time, getting up and changing the channel on the front of the television set, or via a cable slider device (connected to the television via a wire) was common practice. The phrase “channel surfing” came about as a result of the television remote control.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Emmy and Remy, famous twin actresses, were glamping in remote Tanzania for a reality show. More primadonnas than Girl Scouts, these two emoted every time their creature comforts weren’t available, or their batteries died, or they broke a nail doing anything. It’s as if 1990s UK show “Absolutely Fabulous” had become a real thing.


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