Easily Confused Words: Bough vs. Bow

Bough and bow 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’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Bough is a noun. It means the limbs of a tree, or branches of a leafy plant. It’s a word you don’t hear often beyond song lyrics, like Christmas carols or lullabies.

For example: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” says to hang a star upon the highest bough. “Deck the Halls” says to Deck the halls with boughs of holly.The lullaby Rockabye Baby says “When the bough breaks, the cradle with fall.”

Bow (pronounced “b+ oww”; rhymes with wow, cow) has multiple forms:

  • As a verb, to bow means to bend forward at the waist, typically after someone has performed onstage for an audience. In some cultures, like Japan, bowing is part of an introduction as a sign of respect.
  • As a noun, in the nautical world, bow is the front part of a ship or boat.
  • As a noun, “bow wow” is used to describe a dog’s bark. It’s an example of onomatopoeia. This meaning has been used for musician’s or band’s names, and in song, George Clinton’s Atomic Dog.

So what about bow (pronounced “boh”; rhymes with low, flow, mow)? It’s a noun.

  • It means an arch, like a rainbow.
  • It also means the wood apparatus an archer uses to shoot arrows.
  • It can also mean a knotted loop ribbon decoration for a gift decoration or fashion statement. Bowtie, hair bow, gift bow, etc.

The following story uses bough and bow (boww) correctly:

For Christmas, many towns decorate the boughs of their larger trees with Christmas lights. It’s as traditional as a performer taking a bow after a performance. As an added benefit, it brightens up the streets during a darker, otherwise gloomy season of the year. 

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Easily Confused Words: Chard and Charred

Chard and charred 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’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Chard is a noun. It is an edible plant that’s a member of the lettuce family. Perhaps the most famous chard is Swiss chard. Swiss chard is known for its deep fuchsia pink stems and deep green leaves.

Charred is the past tense of the verb char. If food is charred, it’s been grilled or roasted until it’s surface is blackened and blistered.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Charlotte was an adventurous vegetarian chef, offering innovative fusion cuisine. One of her most popular dishes combined charred squash and portobello mushrooms over a bed of swiss chard and garlic and herb with mashed turnip and cannellini beans.

Easily Confused Words: Meteor vs. Meatier

Meteor vs. Meatier 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.

Meteor (pronounced “me-tee-ohr”) is a noun. It is a shooting or falling star. When a very large meteor enters our atmosphere and impacts Earth, it can cause massive damage. When meteors pass through our atmosphere, as in a meteor shower, it’s an incredible spectacle to watch.

Meatier (pronounced “me-tee-err”) is an adjective. Among two dishes, it would be describe the one containing more meat. In writing circles, a story can be described as “meatier” if it has more complicated, intriguing content compared to most news.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Meredith, a local journalist, was tasked with covering community attention to last week’s meteor shower. She begrudingly fulfilled the assignment. She hoped to get tasked with higher-level, meatier stories in the future. 

Easily Confused Words: Lose vs. Loose

Lose and loose are easily confused words. Online, I see them confused for one another almost as often as their/there/they’re, and your/you.

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’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Lose is a verb. It means to fail, to be beaten or defeated in a game or war.

Loose has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to be set free,  to remove from capture or bondage.
  • As a adjective, it means unbound or unorganized.

The following story uses both words correctly:

When Lisandréa wore her hair loose, the men in the village tended to lose their train of thought as she walked past. She was taking her goose eggs and goat milk to sell at the market. 

Easily Confused Words: Siphon vs. Cypher

Siphon and cypher 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’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Siphon is a verb. It means to use a tube and air suction to drain liquid from a container. Suction can be enabled by a vacuum, or more often, one’s mouth to get the liquid to start flowing.

Cypher is a noun. It can mean a coded or encrypted language. It can mean numbers. in relation to people, it can mean a person of little significance.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Cillian wasn’t sure what his career in life would be, at times he felt like a cypher, or the black sheep of the family. He had a knack for siphoning gas from cars, which helped with his lawncare business. 

Easily Confused Words: Revile vs. Reveal

Revile and reveal 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.

Revile is a verb. It means to criticize someone harshly, or verbally attack someone to his/her face.

Reveal is a verb. It means to remove a covering over an object, or to release previously undisclosed information.

The following story uses both words correctly:

River was aware of corruption involved in the recent election, however, his mother was the mayor. He knew if he revealed his knowledge, he would be reviled by his mother. Perhaps she would never forgive him, and he was still living at home.

Easily Confused Words: Bass vs. Base

Bass and base 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’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Bass is a noun. It means the low notes that combined with drums, give a piece of music its rhythm. The bass notes are often played by a steel stringed electric guitar, or a large standup bass played with a bow or by hand. Esmeralda Spaulding is famous for playing a standup bass for her jazz albums.

Base is a noun. It means the foundation of a sculpture. In sports like baseball, it can mean a sack or structure that the players navigate in order to score points for their team.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Blaze was a girl of many talents. She played first base for her softball team, and she was learning to play the bass for her school’s jazz band.