Easily Confused Words: Coddling vs. Cuddling

Coddling and cuddling 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.

Coddling (pronounced “kawd-dlihng”) is a gerund form of the verb coddle. To coddle means when one person treats another in a diminutive, patronizing, or babying way. When a superior doesn’t reprimand bad behavior or try to correct it, this is coddling.

Cuddling (pronounced “kuhd-dlihng”) is a gerund form of the verb cuddle. To cuddle means to cradle a person or creature in one’s arms, or for people to lie close together in a resting embrace fashion.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Codaye found a stray puppy he named Radko. The two quickly hit it off, taking long walks in the forest, and cuddling on the couch in front of the TV many evenings. Radko was a sweet dog, but not a quick learner. Codaye’s girlfriend, Cicely, accused him of coddling the dog instead of being the firm disciplinarian the dog needed. 

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