Easily Confused Words: Obvious vs. Oblivious

Obvious and oblivious are words that can be easily confused for one another.

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 it produces humorous results.

Obvious (pronounced “awb-vee-us”) is an adjective. It describes something that is common sense, easily visible, or easily discernible situation to any person.

Oblivious (pronounced “aw-blih-vee-us”) is an adjective. It describes someone who does not notice or is not aware of people or things that are nearby. It can also mean having poor recall of previous events.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Oba thought it was obvious to shout “OPA!” when the flaming saganaki arrived at your table in a Greek restaurant. However, his fellow diners kept talking or staring at their phones, completely oblivious to their server’s presence.

The experience of dining out has really declined, he thought. 


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