Easily Confused Words: Specious vs. Spacious

Specious and spacious 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.

Specious (pronounced “spee-shuss”) is an adjective. It can mean pleasurable on the surface, but deceitful or deceptive underneath. It can also mean a pleasant statement lacking depth.

Spacious (pronounced “spay-shuss”) is an adjective. It means creating the feeling of wide open space, of having lots of room to move around.

For example, in real estate, making rooms feel bigger than they are is a key interior design tactic. This is achieved by having minimal furniture and accessories in the room and white (or pale colored) walls. Pushing furniture back against walls, are all ways to create a “spacious” feeling.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Spencer was showing a tiny condo unit to a potential client this afternoon. Though it was only 600 square feet, his ad had described it as spacious and affordable, the best of both worlds for a young person in the big city.

When his first potential client showed up, she looked around in profound disappointment. At a height of 6’2, she felt claustrophobic in the space. There was no way her stuff would fit. She complained the photos were deceptive, and the ad copy was specious. With that, she left. 

This rental was going to be harder to move than Spencer originally thought.


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