Easily Confused Words: Condiments and Condoms

Condiments and condoms 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.

Condiments is a noun, it’s the plural form of condiment. A condiment is a sauce used to add flavor on prepared food: ketchup, mustard, relish, mayonnaise, dijonnaise, and horseradish are all examples of condiments.

Condoms are a noun. It means a latex or other rubberized device worn by men during intercourse to prevent the release of ejaculate into an orifice of their partner. Condoms both prevent pregnancy and can prevent the spread of some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs.)

The following story uses both words correctly:

Concord was picking up last minute things for that weekend’s house party. Reviewing the list he pulled from the fridge, his roommates had listed condiments, ground beef for burgers, sodas, beer, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and….condoms? Really? Was that a joke?

Maybe it wasn’t. Since they couldn’t afford to look for a new roommate in the next six months so he picked some up anyway.


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