Easily Confused Words: Walk vs. Wok

Walk and wok 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.

Walk (pronounced w-all-k) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it can mean a paved path designed for traveling on foot.
  • As a noun, it can also mean the act of going outside to travel on foot for exercise and enjoy the outdoors. No destination is indicated for a walk unless it is accompanied by adverbs like “to” and “from” and a place.
  • As a verb, it means to travel on foot, by putting one foot in front of the other at a steady, but not fast pace.

Wok (pronounced “w-ahh-k) is a noun. It’s a Chinese word. It means a deep cooking pan with a wider top rim than its base. Popular materials for woks are stainless steel, cast iron, and teflon. Woks are used to cook vegetables and small pieces of meat for stir-fry dishes. Woks are brought to a high heat, a tiny bit of oil is dropped in, and the food is stirred around briskly over and over to cook it. Because the sides of a wok are raised, subtly “tossing” the ingredients doesn’t result in them flying out and burning the cook or making a mess. Here’s a demo from Youtube.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Walter took a walk when his neighborhood when he passed a large trash heap outside a recently vacated rental. On top of the trash stack sat a brand-new wok, wrapped in cardboard label, looking as if it had never been used. Walter had always wanted a wok, but he resisted the urge to take this one home. 

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