Easily Confused Words: Wiled vs. Wild

Wiled and wild 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’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.

Wiled is the past tense of the verb wile. In the verb phrase “wiled away,” it means to time (or another resource) wasted, spent carelessly, without specific goal.

A related noun, wile, means trickery, enticement, or qualities used for trickery or enticement.

Wild is an adjective. It describes an object, creature, or plant living in nature. It can also describe a person or creature behaving unpredictably, or not calm.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Walmond struggled in school, it seemed his spirit was too wild for the ordinary classroom. When his parents pulled him out of a school for an unschooling curriculum where his interests guided his learning, Walmond wiled away hours studying flight and aircraft. When he was required to read or do math, he complied with little fuss.  

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