Easily Confused Words: Split vs. Spilt

Split and spilt 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.

Split (pronounced “spuh + liht”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb. It means to divide or cut an object in two, or into halves.
  • As a noun, it means to perform a gymnastics pose where the legs are in a straight line and the pelvis is resting flush with the floor.

Spilt (pronounced “spuh+ ihllt”) is the past tense and past participle of the verb spill.

To spill means to drop a liquid, or a collection of objects, on a surface. Once the spill has happened: the liquid has been spilled, or it was spilt.

Spilt can also be an adjective, as in the idiom, “there’s no use crying over spilt milk”.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Spyridon was a frustrated dad. His twins were pointing fingers about who spilt the milk. Their baby sister saw what happened, but couldn’t talk. She wailed to see lunch all over the floor.

First he cleaned up the mess. Then he split the two twins apart and talked to them independently. Inevitably, one of them confessed. Both donated allowance money to fund a new jug of milk. It wasn’t the spilling that had been the problem, it was the finger pointing and the attempted cover up.

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