Easily Confused Words: Molotov vs. Mazel Tov

Malatov and mazel tov are easily confused terms. One is called a cocktail, but is not potable, the other is a word you might say at celebratory occasions, whether or not alcohol is served.

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.

Molotov (pronounced “maul-oh-tawv”) is a proper noun. The full phrase is Molotov cocktail, a homemade explosive device using common, abundant materials: a rag, some alcohol, some gasoline or other fuel, and a wine or liquor bottle. Once the rag is set aflame, the bottle is thrown into a window, a car, or other structure. The glass will burst on impact, splashing flammable liquid everywhere, and starting a fire that is likely to spread quickly.

The Finns gave this weapon its name after the Winters War. It is named for a Russian foreign minister, “Molotov.” He gave himself this name early in his political career; this name is based on the Russian word for “hammer.” His actual name at birth? Vyacheslav Skryabin.

Mazel tov (pronounced “mah-zull  tawv”) means “Good luck/Good fortune/Congratulations!” in Hebrew. Clicking the link will take you to a post at Chabad.org, providing a more in-depth description of Mazel tov’s meaning.

The Black-Eyed Peas actually mention this phrase in their 2009 song “I Gotta Feeling”: “Fill up my cup, Mazel Tov!”

The following story uses both words correctly:

“I’ve had such a rough day and it’s my 21st birthday. I could go for a Molotov cocktail.” said the young woman.

The bartender laughed. “That’s not a real cocktail. I’m Malik, and I need to see some ID.” She pulled out her license. Her photo matched her face. It was indeed her 21st birthday, and her name was Amanda Jones.

“Thank you.” He slid her ID back to her. “Now Amanda, will it be a mojito, a glass of Malbec, or something else?”

“It’s Mandy, and I’ll try a mojito, Malik.”

He mixed it up. Then he handed her the drink and held up his own glass of soda to make a toast. “You’re 21. Mazel tov, Mandy.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s