Easily Confused Words: Filing vs. Fling

Filing and fling 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.

Filing (pronounced “feye-lihng”) has multiple meanings.

  • As the gerund form of the verb file, it can mean to put records in their proper slot for record keeping and future reference. It can also mean submitting one’s tax forms and payment to a government tax authority or department of revenue.
  • As a noun, it can mean the set of documents being filed.
  • As the gerund form of the verb file, it can also mean using a coarse surface used to smooth an uneven surface.

Fling (pronounced “flihng”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it can mean to throw an object (or objects) away from oneself.
  • As a noun, it can mean a love affair.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Florie was relieved another tax season was behind her, and to boot, it appeared a substantial refund would be headed her way. After filing her return electronically, she saved an electronic copy, and printed out a backup copy for files. In her excitement, she felt she could fling all those papers in the air and let them rain all over her, but she decided against it. 

Instead she poured a glass of wine, propped her feet up, and decided to binge-watch her favorite D.C. drama series.

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