Easily Confused Words: Regime vs. Regimen

Regime and regimen 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.

Regime has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means an authoritarian government, a ruling system, or a management group.
  • As an adjective, It can also mean fees assessed by a management team for a property. In the US, if you live in a condo or subdivision with an HOA managing it, often you pay “regime fees” to maintain that property. These fees pay for one or more of the following services: landscaping services of shared spaces, gardening services of shared spaces, pest control for shared spaces, exterior pressure washing of buildings, exterior painting of buildings, neighborhood pool and clubhouse maintenance, and funding for future building repairs (if you share a roof and walls with other residents.)

Regimen is a noun. It means a ritual, procedure, or a regular habit or set of habits. For example, many people have an exercise regimen. It can also mean a procedure to remedy an illness or problem. The regimen for fighting off a cold is hydration, rest, and chicken soup.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Regina was planning a revolution. Her twin brother, King Reginald, was running the harshest regime in Reggoletto’s recent history. He subjected his people to harsh taxes. Offenders received merciless sentences. Everyday, obedient subjects endured regimens of hard labor, building monuments to his legacy. This is not the Reggoletto their late mother, the Queen, would have wanted. Something had to change, and fast.

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