Easily Confused Words: Offal vs. Awful

Offal and awful 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.

Offal (pronounced “off-uhl”) is a noun. It means the internal organs of domesticated farm animals: for example, sheep, cows, chickens, goats. These parts are often sold cheaply and consumed as a last resort, even though liver and other organs are actually higher in nutrients than the muscles of those animals.

Awful (pronounced “aw-full”) is an adjective. It describes something that is bad, ugly, poorly done, or something perceived to be bad, negative, or terrible. It can also be used to describe intensity, as in feeling love or care “an awful lot.”

The following story uses both words correctly:

Ophelia was asked to cook a lunch featuring offal and sweetbreads, for example, sheep pancreas and cow’s gullet. The lunch was also required to demonstrate flair for a specific cuisine: Scottish, Scandinavian, or German, perhaps.

Though cooking with organs and glands sounded just awful to her, Ophelia realized she had to pass this challenge to earn respect among her peers. So she tried her best. 

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One thought on “Easily Confused Words: Offal vs. Awful

  1. For many, these two words are almost too “easy” to combine. Then again, in Lyon, long considered the gastronomical capital of France, offal is royalty! “The offal is dead; long live the offal!” 🙂

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