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. 

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