Easily Confused Words: Widow vs. Window

Widow and window 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.

Widow (pronounced “wi -d-oh”) has multiple meanings:

  • As a noun. It means a wife who’s spouse has died. When a husband’s wife dies, he is called a widower.
  • As a verb, to be widowed means to be a wife who loses her spouse through death.
  • As a proper noun, the Black Widow is a type of spider famous for killing her partner after mating. She has a red hourglass shape on the underside of her abdomen. This spider is the most venomous one in North America.

Window (pronounced “win-doh”) is a a noun. It means a pane of glass held by a frame that’s installed in the wall of a building. Windows let natural light into a house’s rooms, and allows the occupants to see who or what is outside.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Wilfrida stared out the window. It was a sunny afternoon, there was a funeral service and burial for her husband that morning. Casseroles and other prepared food covered the counters, but all the guests had gone.

Adjusting to the widow life was going to be hard, she thought, it’s just so strange to be with someone for over 30 years and then suddenly that person isn’t there anymore.


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