Easily Confused Words: Wrest vs. Rest

Wrest and rest are easily confused words and homophones. Homophones are words that sound identical but are spelled differently.

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.

Wrest (pronounced “rehst”) is a verb. It means to take away by force, to pull, to yank. You don’t hear this word in the US very much.

Rest (pronounced “reh-st”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to allow your body or an object to sit still.
  • As a verb, it means to allow an object to sit or lean on another.
  • As a noun, it means the act of sitting still or getting a nap.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Westerlee wouldn’t rest until she had wrested a knotty ball of yarn into submission for a new  crocheted scarf.

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