Easily Confused Words: Deify vs. Defy


Deify and defy 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.

Deify is a verb. It means to turn a human being into a god. For example, some famous people appear to be deified by the media as if they can do no wrong.

Defy is a verb. It means to behave in direct rebellion to orders, guidance, or rules. These can be actual rules given by a superior, or unwritten societal norms that are accepted without question.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Deilia was a new writer at her school’s paper. She was asked to write glowing articles only about the football team, to the point of deifying each player. She wrote lots of sports stories, but she defied the rules, too. She made a point to write about exceptional members of the school band, school glee club, arts, and drama groups. She also highlighted members of the student body who adapted to social and other challenges with anorexia, depression, dyslexia, ADD, and autism. It created a more harmonious student body when they understood each other better. 

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