Easily Confused Words: Crohns vs. Crones

Crohn’s and crones 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.

Crohn’s is a noun. It means an chronic inflammation disorder of the intestinal tract. Symptoms include involving cramping, diarrhea, bloody stools. Over time, this leads to anemia. The disease was named for Dr. Burrill Crohn, who discovered the illness in 1932.

Crones is a noun, it’s the plural form of crone. It means a derogatory term for a woman in her senior years who is odd, mysterious, hard to get along with, and potentially practicing witchcraft.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Rumors abounded in Colrain about the old crones who lived in town, one lived up on the hill. When Cyrus knocked over her mailbox with his car, he trudged up her drive to deliver the bad news. It was a little terrifying to confront her; what if she turned him into a newt? When she opened the door, he wasn’t greeted by a witch, rather, an enthusiastic woman named Cressida, “Ciddie” for short, who didn’t get out much because Crohns’ left her exhausted.

Years later, when he was in college and about to finish medical school, Ciddie passed away. He would tell the crowd at her memorial service that meeting Ciddie was a turning point in his life. She was the best “adopted grandma” he ever had.

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