Easily Confused Words: Partisan vs. Artisan

Partisan and artisan 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.

Partisan (pronounced “parr-tih-sun”) is an adjective. It means showing preference or bias towards a specific group, a political party, or an agenda.

Artisan (pronounced “arr-tih-sun”) is a noun. It means an artist or other craftsperson. In the last decade (2006-2016) a taste for handmade furniture, art, and jewelry has had a massive resurgence in the US. A related adjective, artisanal, describes something that was made using old-fashioned, handcrafted techniques.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Marty wanted to improve things for the artisan village, some creators were getting stiffed for their work. So he aimed to get involved in politics to make it against the law to receive work without paying for it. Unfortunately, it was only a short time in political circles before he came to a painful realization. Politics was a very tit-for-tat, partisan world; achieving what he wanted would involve supporting initiatives he didn’t agree with, in order to get reciprocative support for his initiatives.

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