Easily Confused Words: Explosive vs. Exclusive

Explosive and exclusive 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.

Explosive (pronounced “x-ploh-sihv”) is an adjective. It describes something that is capable of self-destructing, or blowing up. Figuratively, it describes something that’s shocking, sensational, or alarming.

Exclusive (pronounced “x-kloo-sihv”) is an adjective. It describes something with limited access, especially something that demands some status or prestige for access.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Reporter Evermunda Jones was very excited to have an exclusive interview with a woman many townspeople believed to be the governor’s mistress. The governor had run a family values oriented campaign. Once in office, he had made a lot of enemies by backing efforts to cancel social programs.

Sure enough, the interview proved riveting. Near the end of the conversation, the woman, who called herself Lexi, made an explosive revelation: she wasn’t the only mistress in the governor’s life. And one was enrolled in a very posh boarding school in a remote part of the state.

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