Easily Confused Words: Farro vs. Pharaoh

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.

Farro is a noun. It’s pronounced fAHR-oh, from the Italian word is farrotto. It means long wheat grains that are cooked in hot water for food. Like quinoa, it is considered a “super-grain” that is high in nutrients, fiber, and protein.

Pharaoh is a noun. It can be pronounced fay-roh or fah-roh. [I admit I am more familiar with the former, short a sound pronounciation.] It means the royal, deified leaders of ancient Egypt.

Since these two words are so close in sound, context is everything: if someone is talking about ancient Egypt, they probably mean Pharaoh. If they are talking about food, they probably mean farro.

The following story uses both words correctly:

While farro was common cuisine for the poorest people of Rome, there’s no indication the Pharaohs or common ancient Egyptians ate it. 

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