Easily Confused Words: Sorted vs. Sordid

Sorted and sordid 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.

Sorted (pronounced “sore-teh-d”) is the past tense of the verb sort. To sort means to organize items; “sorted” refers to items or things that have been organized.

Sordid (pronounced “sore-did”) is an adjective. It describes something bad, naughty, illicit, illegal, risqué, or evil. Often its used to modify “plans” or “past.”

The following story uses both words correctly:

 Soraia took down an old box from the closet. She was hoping to get old things sorted, and unimportant things discarded. In the box, she found clippings about a crime story she had been fascinated with as a teenager: an unsolved mystery. It centered around Alexis Ashby, a homecoming queen in a mountain town. One morning, a jogger found her body on the shores of a remote lake. Later stories uncovered the sordid life she had been living up until her disappearance. 


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