Easily Confused Words: Sartorial vs. Satirical

Sartorial and satirical 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.

Sartorial (pronounced “sahr-tore-ee-ull”) is an adjective. It describes a person’s fashion and clothing choices.

Satirical (pronounced “sah-teer-ihk-ull”) is an adjective. It describes wording and writing that is meant to be wisecracking or joking. For example, hinting or telling some core truth through the means of an absurd situation or premise. For example, The Onion might be the USA’s most famous satirical newspaper.  All of its stories are totally false, but sometimes they get close to reality.

The following story uses both words correctly:

 Sonora was a rising pop star whose latest album was nominated for 5 Grammys. On the red carpet, her sartorial choices had always been the subject of controversy. This year was no exception. Her skin was covered in temporary tattoos containing the labels and barbs from her harshest critics, this body art juxtaposed with her glittering designer dress. Some intrepreted her fashion choice as satirical and mocking of pop stardom, or a woman who can’t handle fame. She described it as, “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”


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