Easily Confused Words: Carp vs. Crap

Carp and crap 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.

Carp (pronounced “karrp”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it’s a type of fish. One species, the grass carp, is well-known for eating weeds in residential ponds and lakes.
  • As a verb, it means to complain or gripe.

Crap (pronounced “krahp”) is slang. It’s a noun.

  • It can mean feces.
  • It can mean a negative word for a person’s possessions, stuff, or clutter he/she has left lying about.
  • In the phrase, “I don’t give a crap,” the speaker is saying he/she has no concern or care about a given issue. In the phrase, “Who gives a crap?” the speaker is saying no one cares about a given issue, it’s not important.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Ciprian was very annoyed with his roommate, Carmine, who wasn’t anywhere as organized or neat as he was. He was always carping at Carmine to stop watching television, put on pants, and to clean up his crap. It didn’t seem to work until the 10th time.


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