Easily Confused Words: Shuffle vs. Shuttle

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.

Shuffle has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to mix up the order of things, like a deck of cards.
  • As a noun, it means to walk without taking your feet very far of the ground, dragging your heels as you walk.
  • As a noun, it can mean a “dragging your feet,” slow style of dance.

Shuttle has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it can mean the device used to press layers of thread or yarn together when making a rug or other woven object together on a loom.
  • As a noun, it can also mean a vehicle used in space travel.
  • As a noun, it can also mean a bus with one trip: to and from the airport or other business location.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Seamus was groggy as he disembarked his plane. He shuffled down the bridge. His suitcase would make three rounds on the conveyor belt before he recognized it as his. He almost missed the shuttle to his car in a remote parking lot. He couldn’t recall the last time he was this hungover. 

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