Easily Confused Words: Prints vs. Prince

Prints and prince 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.

Prints is the plural form of the noun “print.” A print is a piece of paper with images, words, or both on it.

  • When a photographer or a visual artist sells you a print, it’s a copy of their original artwork that you can display on a wall.
  • When people took photos on 35mm film, they would drop off the film at a developer. The developer returned prints and developed negatives for a small fee.
  • Print, as an industry, means communications media in newspapers, magazines, and journals.

Prince is a noun. It means the legitimate male children of a king or emperor. These male children are in line to ascend the throne when the king or emperor dies. In some countries, princesses are also eligible for the throne. For example, in England, newborn Princess Charlotte is fourth in line for the throne.

  • Prince is also the mononym of a rockstar Prince Nelson, a US rock and R&B legend who first appeared on the music charts in 1979. Prince plays multiple instruments, produces, arranges, has written lots of songs made famous by other performers. Back in the 1980s, he brought a number of acts to the stage as part of the “Minneapolis sound,” a blend of R&B, funk, and pop. Check out the link at PopMatters for a detailed essay on Prince and his highly influential sound.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Priam wasn’t the prince his family anticipated. He preferred traditional photography and making his own prints; he didn’t like hunting at all.


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