Easily Confused Words: Tease vs. Tees

Tease and tees 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.

Tease has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb. To tease is too roughen the texture. For example, in the 1960s, US women would tease their hair to be trendy. Figuratively speaking, to tease a person means to poke fun at someone, to irritate or embarrass them.
  • As a noun, being a tease means leading someone on, as if you’re really interested in being intimate and you’re not.

Tees is a noun. It’s the plural form of “tee.” Tee has multiple meanings.

  • A tee can mean a wooden spike with a semi-flat top used in golf. The tee holds the ball about 1 inch off the ground, making it easier for it to fly when hit by the putter.
  • A tee can also be slang for “t-shirt.”

The following story uses both words correctly:

Teegan started a summer job at the local golf course at age 13. It was pretty tiring walking all over the course, retrieving tees and balls all day. She didn’t like the button up shirt and white pants uniform she was required to wear. She would have preferred tees and shorts.

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