Easily Confused Words: Barge vs. Barrage

Barge and barrage 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.

Barge has multiple meanings:

  • As a noun, it can mean a flat-bottomed vessel, capable of sustaining large loads, that must be towed or pulled by another vehicle. Barges are used in shipping freight, and in boat parades by dignitaries.
  • As a verb, it means to make a hasty entrance or physical interruption in someone else’s space.

Barrage is a noun. In battle, it means a large quantity of artillery being fired so that an army can advance or retreat more easily. It means a large quantity of things or objects.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Bergen was getting ready for the city’s Spring Boat Parade festivities. His job was making sure every boat and barge knew how to queue up. The day before the big event, his assistant reminded him about a barrage of requests from VIPs in the parade. Wow, people are so demanding when they’re the center of attention, he thought.

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