Easily Confused Words: Lairs vs. Layers

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.

Lairs (pronounced “l + airs”) is a noun, it’s the plural form of lair. It means the home a wild animal creates for itself for sleeping. This is where females birth their cubs.

Layers (pronounced “lay-errs”) is the plural form of layer. Layer has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it can mean one level of a multi-level structure or substance. Cakes and lasagnas have layers. Mountains have layers of stone. Hair can be cut to have layers, in order to show thickness and movement.
  • As a noun, it can also mean a creature who lays things. A hen is a layer of eggs. A brickmason is a layer of brick and mortar.
  • As a verb, to layer means to apply the layers or levels of a thing: layers of paint, layers of cake.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Layland designed high-end lairs for people’s farms, zoos, and small pets dwellings. He was able to expand his business into an animal spa for nail care, deluxe shampoos and conditioning, and fancy layers pet cuts.


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