Easily Confused Words: Aloud vs. Allowed

Aloud and allowed 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.

Aloud is an adjective. It describes a person using their voice to share information or express feeling, like by reading or singing. This is not to be confused with people who say something he/she is thinking without realizing he/she is speaking it as well. They ask, “Was that out loud?”

Allowed has multiple meanings.

  • As an adverb, it describes something within rules or laws, permissible.
  • As a past tense verb, it means something that was permissible in the past; chances are that’s changed recently.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Alouette initially wasn’t allowed in the arts program at her school. It was assumed that given her underprivileged background, she wouldn’t have the  means to have developed talents to be of interest to the board in charge of the program. What they didn’t know is that despite modest means, the girl had sung with tapes of gospel and classical singing since she was about 4. Her dad had them on in the truck and one day she just started joining in, responding to what she’d heard since she was a baby.

Her dad asked that they reconsider. Once they heard the girl sing aloud, they were blown away. Alouette received her official invite in the mail the following week. 

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Easily Confused Words: Untied vs. United

Untied and united 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.

Untied (pronounced “uhn-tide”) has multiple meanings.

  • As the past tense of the verb “untie”: It means to loosen a bow, tie, or other knot. It can also mean to free from restraints. Untied indicates loosened strings, or something being freed in the past, either literally or figuratively.
  • As an adverb, it describes something that has become loosened or freed, literally or figuratively.

United (pronounced “yoo-nighted”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, it means linked by governmental or contractual agreement.
  • As a verb, it’s the past tense of unite. To unite means to join together.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Utah sported untied shoelaces and a resilient, hopeful spirit. Foster care had been a very hard way to grow up. Her family was always changing, some people had been kinder than others. She hoped one day to be united with parents all her own. Her wish would finally come true at age 16.

Easily Confused Words: Haughty vs. Hottie

Haughty and hottie 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.

Haughty (pronounced “hawtee”) is an adjective. It means behaving in a snobby, arrogant, looking-down-one’s-nose way towards others.

Hottie (pronounced “hahtee”) is slang. It is an adjective. It means a sexy or attractive person. The dictionary says this usage evolved in the 1990s.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Hawthorne was widely regarded as the hottie in his class. Unfortunately, any attraction dissipated once he started talking. New kids quickly noticed his haughty attitude and superiority complex.

His older brother, Homer, was the total opposite. He was somewhat of a class clown, and never without a circle of friends.

Easily Confused Words: Sycophant vs. Psychopath

Sycophant and psychopath 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.

Sycophant (pronounced “sick-ohfant”) is an adjective. It means someone who is a shameless flatterer, a person seeking immediate reward for a phony act of admiring behavior. For example, politics is rife with sycophants; being a big financial or vocal supporter of a candidate virtually guarantees a person a job in the victor’s administration. It’s usually years later when it’s revealed how much people came to dislike each other, or never liked each other. It was all an act to advance one’s own career and profile.

Psychopath (pronounced “sigh-co-path”) is a noun, it means a human personality disorder. Psychopaths are recognizable by his/her lack of empathy, superficial emotions, and extreme selfishness. Learn more here.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Cybil was hoping to make CEO of the big bank. She wasn’t sure though, that she could stomach many more years of watching her back for the antics of psychopaths and the lukewarm company of sycophants. The higher one rose up, the lonelier it got at work. A good mentor was hard to find. 

Easily Confused Words: Deficit vs. Deficient

Deficit and deficient 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.

Deficit (pronounced “def-uh-sit”) is a noun. It means the amount that an organization falls short of having a balanced budget. A balanced budget is when incoming revenue meets expenditures. For example, many US stores operate at a deficit for most of the year, traditionally Black Friday was their big sales weekend to finally catch up. With many sales happening online, stores have had to change tactics with constant sales, coupons, etc.

A deficit can also mean a weakness, a challenge, or a major shortcoming.

Deficient (pronounced “duh-fish-shunt”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, it describes something that is underperforming or inadequate.
  • As a noun, it is used to refer to someone with a learning disability or other mental (not psychological) challenges. I admit I don’t hear this usage often.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Delphinius was running the numbers for the family’s shoe business. He calculated the books again, again, and again. He didn’t like what he was seeing in the numbers. Each time he repeated the process, he was hoping to discover a better outcome. But to his chagrin, each time they showed the store was operating at a tremendous deficit. Actually, it had been for months. It was time to make a tough decision: they would have to lay several staff members off.

For a family business, it was hard to let anyone go. His dad had liked his employees very much, but his health was now failing. The now-grown kids had to step in and take over. Delphinius looked at the sales figures to decide which employees were the most deficient in making money. This wasn’t a decision that could be made on a emotional business. It looked like Daphne, Hilda, and Giovanni would be asked to leave before the end of the year.

Easily Confused Words: One vs. On

One and on 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.

One (pronounced “wuhn”) is an adjective. It means a single thing or object.

On (pronounced “awn”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a preposition, it indicates a person or object’s position atop, suspended from, or on the surface of something else.
  • As an adjective, it describes something engaged or focused, like turning an appliance or lights power to “on”, or a person performing very well in an ideal state of concentration.
  • As an adverb, it is linked with a verb to provide more specific information: put on a jacket, climb on a horse, etc.

The following story uses both words correctly:

It was early morning, no one else was awake. Oona turned on the light in the kitchen, discovering just one snickerdoodle was left on a party plate. She snatched it, a small carton of milk from the fridge, and snuck back to her room before anyone could see her. 

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Won vs. One.

Easily Confused Words: Virile vs. Viral

Virile and viral 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.

Virile (pronounced “veer-uhl”) is an adjective. It means relating to men, or male characteristics like physical strength and procreation. Virility is a related noun.

Viral (pronounced “veye-ruhl”) is an adjective. It describes something resembling a virus or a virus’ behavior. The idiom “going viral” describes a product or idea that is shared among a lot of people in a relatively short period of time.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Virgil was hoping his company’s latest drug, Gladiator, would be a viral hit. Gladiator said it made clients virile, energetic, and ready to take on the world.  It was going to be tough to stand out in an already crowded marketplace for supplements. Other companies had a higher marketing budget.