Easily Confused Words: Frieze vs. Freeze

Frieze and freeze 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.

Frieze is a noun. It is a strip or band of sculpted surface found on classical and neo-classical buildings.

Freeze is a verb.

To freeze means to chill something until its water molecules turn to solid ice. Freezing food is a means of keeping it fresher longer, so it does not have to be consumed right away. In humid climates, freezing food wards off mold, bugs, and general decomposition.

A person can also freeze. In fall and winter, a person who freezes gets very cold. If that person doesn’t warm up, he/she is at risk for getting sick, or dying.

In a game of tag, players have to freeze once they have been touched by the “it” player. In this instance, freeze means to stand completely still, like a statue.

When a person performs on stage, sometimes they figuratively freeze up. This means he/she is so nervous about being the center of attention that his/her mind goes blank and they can’t function. Computers can also freeze up; this means when they have too many functions or applications to perform and not enough RAM to process them all.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Friso was a gifted sculptor and architect with profound social anxiety. When it came time to unveil his latest work to the public, a frieze featuring local heroes and dignitaries, he thought he would freeze up. Fortunately, this didn’t happen. 

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