Easily Confused Words: Trade vs. Tirade

Trade and tirade 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.

Trade (pronounced “traid”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to exchange goods or services.
  • As a verb, it can mean to change position: “trade places with someone else”
  • As a noun, it can mean a field that studies nations’ economic relationships.

Tirade (pronounced “tie-raid”) is a noun. It means a lengthy, angry statement made by someone. Tirades are mostly spoken, but in the age of social media, they can be written as well. Tirades have an audience, quite often one that doesn’t understand what the big deal is.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Trilby wasn’t sure what to do when her boss, the new Prime Minister (PM), went on a tirade during the trade negotiations meeting. The new PM railed against unfair practices by other nations over the past decade, and threatened to impose more tariffs.

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