Easily Confused Words: Shuttlecock vs. Spatchcock

Shuttlecock and spatchcock 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.

Shuttlecock is a noun. It means the “ball” used in badminton: a plastic net cone with a rubberized half-dome tip. Players hit the half-dome part, the cone helps it fly over the net. Gravity pulls the rubberized tip downward so players are always hitting it with their rackets.

Spatchcock is a noun. It means to de-spine a chicken carcass so that the meat can lay flatter on a grill surface and cook more evenly on both surfaces.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Shalonna was preparing a couple lemon and herb chickens for dinner. As she carried the spatchcocked birds out the hot grill, a stray shuttlecock from her cousins’ badminton game flew onto the grill’s surface and melted to the grates. What a mess. Shalonna shrugged and carried the birds inside, wrapped them in plastic wrap for another day. Then she picked up the phone and ordered three large pizzas.


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