Easily Confused Words: Hollow vs. Hallow

Hollow and hallow 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.

Hollow (pronounced “hawl-oh”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it can mean to carve out a space: “hollow out.”
  • As a noun, it means a village or small residential area for one or more families. Author Washington Irving made Sleepy Hollow, NY famous. If you’ve ever been to West Virginia, there’s lots of hollows (aka “hollers.”)
  • As an adjective, it means something empty on the inside. It can be an object with solid walls, but nothing is within those walls. It can be a carved indentation in a surface, like an animal’s burrow in the ground or a tree. Figuratively, an event can be described as hollow if the victors feel it’s not significant or meaningful.

Hallow (pronounced “HAL-oh”) is a verb, it means to make something holy, divine, or worthy of reverence.

The past tense, hallowed, is an adjective. It describes something holy, divine, or worthy of reverence.

At the end of October, Halloween happens, it’s the eve of All Saints Day, but its become a holiday all its own.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Hallam was the caretaker of a nearby cemetery. He hollowed out the surface soil and planted fresh flowers at the grave sites on special occasions. He cleaned graffiti off the stones. He kept street litter off its hallowed grounds.

It was a very quiet job. Not many visitors stopped by to visit their loved ones’ remains until November came around. 

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Easily Confused Words: Philly vs. Filly

Philly and Filly are easily confused words. Ordinarily, they would be homophones, but one of these words is slang.

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.

Philly (pronounced “fill-ee”) is slang for a proper noun. Philly is short for Philadelphia, a very large city in eastern Pennsylvania. A Philly cheesesteak is a hot sandwich served on Italian bread, stuffed with melted cheese and thinly sliced grilled beef. The cheesesteak hails from Philadelphia.

Filly (pronounced “fill-ee”) is a noun. It means a young female horse, typically under four years old. Once a horse is mature and considered ready for breeding, she is called a mare.

Filly is also a slang word for a lively, young woman, but this usage sounds dated in the US. It’s not used to someone’s face.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Phillida was walking down the streets of Philadelphia, munching on a Philly cheesesteak. Behind her, she heard someone whistle, then shout, “Wow. What a filly. Amazing legs on that one.”

She felt embarrassed, then mad. Then she realized that voice sounded familiar. She turned around. It was Felipe, an old friend from her days as an exchange student in Argentina. Both strangers in a strange land, they had connected immediately. He always said things to irritate her.

Easily Confused Words: Single vs. Signal

Single and signal are easily confused words. This is one of those situations where a similar set of letters changing order can make all the difference.

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.

Single (pronounced “sing-guhl”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means to be a bachelor or bachelorette, an unmarried person. It’s also used to describe people not in a romantic relationship.
  • As an adjective, it describes something solitary or solo; a product sold on its own, or packaged individually.

Signal (pronounced “sihg-null”) is a noun. It means a light or other indicator used to communicate information. Signals use color, motion, flashing, or other pattern to convey their messages. For example, traffic lights signal drivers to go, stop, or slow down.

Figuratively speaking, it can mean gestures, eye contact, or other non-verbal cues people and animals use to communicate with each other. These signals can be deliberate or more subconscious in nature.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Sheng was rarely single, while his friend Roger struggled to find dates. With a big party just days away, Roger was growing increasingly frustrated. It sounded like everyone had a date but him. 

“What am I doing wrong, man?” 

“Dude, you’re giving off a lot of the wrong signals,” Sheng said. “Be a better listener, and may a little less, er, neurotic?”

Easily Confused Words: Veracity vs. Voracity

Veracity and voracity 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.

Veracity (pronounced “vurr-ass-city”) is a noun. It’s the quality of someone being honest, truthful, accurate, or candid in in his/her speech.

Voracity (pronounced “vaw-reh-city”) is a noun. It means having the quality of being full of life, having a great appetite for experiences.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Vero was giving a eulogy about his Nana Ginny. He recalled her voracity, like her talent for throwing incredible family get togethers. Occasionally, non-family would stop by unexpectedly and she’d insist they stay and join in the fun anyway. She was fiercely proud of her brood: four kids, 16 grandkids. 

In more intimate conversations as they made a snack together, she told him stories of her life as a little girl. She emphasized how important it was to be courageous, and to speak with veracity, even when it was difficult.

Easily Confused Words: Divot vs. Pivot

Divot and pivot are easily confused words. This is an instance where one letter makes all the difference.

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.

Divot (pronounced “dih-vuh-tt”) is a noun. It’s a piece of turf that was dug out by a putter’s swinging golf club as it attempts to whack a golfball.

Pivot (pronounced “pih-vuh-tt”) is a verb. It means to change position or direction, often from a problem area to one with better circumstances and more positive outcomes.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Liv had originally dreamed of joining the LPGA, but her golf game wasn’t as strong as it needed to be at age 15. Her strokes left a lot of divots in the turf and her scores were too high. She decided to pivot to another sport, surfing.

Easily Confused Words: Advantages vs. Advantageous

Advantages and advantageous 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.

Advantages (pronounced add-van-tah-jehz”) is the plural form of the noun advantage. An advantage is a trait or event that is favorable or lucky to a particular person, type of person, or group of people. It can mean a benefit. It can mean a position of superiority when compared to others in a sport, skill or talent.

Advantageous (pronounced “add-van-tay-juss”) is an adjective. It describes situations, or circumstances, that favor one party over another, or others. For example: knowing someone who works at a company often proves advantageous when applying for a job there.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Ajwa Anjum , an economist with the Agility Institute, says that it’s an advantageous time to be looking for a new job.

“The economy is continuing to grow.  There are a number of advantages for hiring an apprentice or junior staffer and starting to train them to be leaders in advance of the older generation’s departure,” he says.

“So much knowledge is lost every time a person retires. It’s a common mistake: the company starts looking for a replacement in a job after the last person’s retirement has started, rather than planning years ahead for that inevitable event.”

Easily Confused Words: Brave vs. Breve

Brave and breve 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.

Breve (pronounced “br-ehv”) is a noun.

  • A mark indicating pronunciation of short vowel sounds.
  • It is a coffee drink featured steamed milk and half and half, an American variation of a latte.
  • A related word, brevity, is a talent for expressing oneself well without a lot of words.

Brave (pronounced “bray-v”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, it describes someone confidence and calm in the face of adversity, high risk, or other stressful, threatening situations.
  • As a noun, it’s been used to refer to young male warriors in America’s indigenous tribes.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Bakhshish had been intimidated about ordering food and drinks in her new country. The language was still very new to her, and she feared getting the words all wrong. But one day, she felt brave. She marched down to the local coffeeshop and ordered a breve with a pain du chocolat. The barista understood her perfectly.