Easily Confused Words: Beryl vs. Barrel

Beryl and barrel 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.

Beryl is a noun. It means a mineral, beryllium aluminium cyclosilicate, found in earth’s crust that comes in a number of colors. One of the most popular is the green variety, May’s birthstone, the Emerald. The pale blue variety is March’s birthstone, Aquamarine.

Barrel has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a cylindrical container made from curved bars of wood, two wood disks, and metal bands. Today, barrels are mostly used for aging wine and liquor.
  • As a noun, it means a cylindrical, spinning part of a gun that holds the bullets for firing.
  • As a verb, it means to move quickly via rolling, driving, or running.
  • As an adjective, it means a large quantity of something abstract or not quantifiable. For instance, describing a carnival as a barrel of fun. 

The following story uses both words correctly:

Beyla grew up in the mountains of North Carolina. She enjoyed digging for beryls and other treasures with her dad, and making barrels of small batch whiskey and moonshine. 

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