Easily Confused Words: Gouache vs. Gauche

Gouache and gauche 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.

Gouache (pronounced “gwash”) is a noun. It means a thick, opaque, water-based paint used in pre-digital graphic design and other artwork. Ordinary watercolor is very thin and you’re supposed to see the paper’s color and texture through the paint. In contrast, deeply hued blocks of color and seeing no paper through the paint is the goal when using gouache. See examples here.

Gauche (pronounced “goh-sh”) is an adjective. It describes a behavior or fashion choice that shows bad taste, poor form, or making a cringeworthy move.

The following story uses both words correctly:

 Gauri made hyper-colorful portraits in gouache and mixed media that really surprised the art world in her native country. At first, critics weren’t sure how to accept her use of color; some called it gauche. But over time, her influence showed up in online music videos, fashion, cosmetics, and car interiors. In time, it was clear–in the long run, she had triumphed in making people see faces in a whole new way.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Gouache vs. Gosh

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