Easily Confused Words: Prescient vs. Precious

Prescient and precious 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.

Prescient (pronounced “preh-see-ihnt”) is an adjective. It describes something that foreshadows, or predicts, how future events unfold. Usually these things are noticed after those events have happened.

Precious (pronounced “preh-shuss”) is an adjective. It describes something fragile or delicate. It can also describe something highly valued, monetarily or emotionally. Sometimes it can be both. For example, in Lord of the Rings, Gollum was obsessed with the ring that would give him absolute power over Middle Earth. He referred to it as “precious.”

The following story uses both words correctly:

Prentiss had a bad feeling about a recent hire stealing from his family’s jewelry store. He told his uncle Charlie, the owner, about it. Charlie didn’t want to believe it. The new hire, Callie, was related to a friend. She was attractive, acted friendly, and had average grades in school. Charlie didn’t want to believe this could be true. He thought Prentiss was just being neurotic and was paranoid about his job.

Now it was two weeks later, and a precious stone had gone missing. A local pawn shop owner, Tyler, called, asking for an appraisal of a recent offering. It was a 1 carat emerald. Coincidentally, this is the exact size and type of stone that had gone missing.

“Who brought it in?” Charlie asked.

“A young woman with long blonde hair,”  Tyler told him. Charlie’s heart sank. Prentiss’ observations had been prescient. He was right all along. Now Charlie and Tyler would have to confront Callie, then he would have to let her go, and let his friend know what happened.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Precocious vs. Precious

Easily Confused Words: Sickle vs. Cycle

Sickle and Cycle 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.

Sickle (pronounced “sih-kuhl”) is a noun. It means a metal blade with a wood handle used for cutting grain stalks down. Perhaps the most famous images of sickle is the logo for communist party: a hammer and a sickle are crossed in an “X” fashion.

Cycle (pronounced “sigh-kuhl”)

  • As a noun, it can mean a process. It can mean the sport of bicycling.
  • As a verb, it can mean the act of moving through a process, or being processed.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Cy had finished his homework. Before sundown, he was cycling down the country roads near his home. Something shiny glinted up on the road ahead. As he got closer, he realized it was a sickle used for cutting grain. It also looked like there was someone lying in the road next to it. 

He stopped his bike and checked on the person, an older man in overalls. They appeared to have passed out. Cy pulled out his cellphone and called EMS. They asked for the address. Cy peeked in the mailbox and read the address on it. EMS said they were on their way. 

Cy got the sickle out of the roadway, and stayed with the man until EMS arrived. His name was Mr. Johnson and he had fainted while working on his farm.

Easily Confused Words: Constituent vs. Constitution

Constituent and constitution 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.

Constituent (pronounced “kuhn-stiht-tyoo-ihnt”) is a noun. It means a member of a voting population represented by a council member, senator, or other representative.

Constitution (pronounced “kawn-stiht-too-shun”) is a noun.

  • It can mean a founding set of rules for a country or state.
  • It can be another way of saying a physical creature’s body.
  • In the US, as a proper noun (always written capitalized), it means the US Constitution, not to be confused with similar documents for individual US states, or the constitutions of other countries.

The following story uses both words correctly:

After a number of scandals, Senator Connor Clay was being recalled from his duties in the Legislature. His constituents had bombarded the phone lines each time he screwed up. Among their complaints were frequent accusations that he was totally unfamiliar with the state constitution he has sworn to uphold. 

Easily Confused Words: Alone vs. A Loan

Alone and a loan 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.

Alone (pronounced “uh-lohn”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, it means the state of a person being literally by his or her self, or an object being by itself. It can also describe someone who is singular or unique in a particular subject or field.
  • As an adverb, it describes actions of people or things that don’t require aid or assistance. It can also be used to describe actions that are exclusive or singular for a particular person.

A loan (pronounced “uh (pause) lohn”) is a noun phrase. It means a sum of money given between persons. For loans from a bank, a person typically has to provide evidence he/she is capable of paying the money back plus interest, or offer an item of value as collateral. Should he/she not pay the loan back, the bank is able to claim that collateral item.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Lenore had been in a bad accident. It took months of therapy to regain the ability to walk without crutches. She was thrilled when she able to stand up alone, and walk across a room without falling. Now that she was in recovery, her next big task was paying off all those bills. She hoped she wouldn’t need to get a loan in order to pay them off. 

Easily Confused Words: Hermine vs. Ermine

Hermine and ermine 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.

Hermine (pronounced “her-mine”) is a noun. It’s a Germanic female name, the equivalent of Herman, which means “army man.”

Ermine (pronounced “ur-men”) is a noun. It means the winter fur of the stoat, a member of the weasel family. Historically, this fur has been used to make elegant, high-end scarves, coats, capes, and some crowns.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Young Queen Hermine couldn’t believe her coronation day had arrived. As a teenager, she had dreamed of what it would be like when the ermine trimmed cape was draped across her shoulders, the ermine trimmed crown was placed on her head, and a royal scepter placed in her hand. What it would be like to sit on the throne. It was truly an amazing day.

The part she hadn’t dreamt about though, was looking out into the sea of faces that were her people. Some were happy, but most looked solemn, sad, or anxious. This was no pageant or theater performance in her old playroom. Now, she was entrusted with their lives. It  was humbling and intimidating all at once. 

Easily Confused Words: Lumens vs. Lemons

Lumens and lemons 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.

Lumens (pronounced “loomens”) is the plural form of the noun lumen. This is a science word from the field of physics. Lumens are an approximation of light output, while watts, the legacy measurement, is an indicator of energy consumption.In the last 15 years, compact fluorescent, halogen, and LED bulbs have become more popular in households; hence, lumens and watts are part of the common information provided to consumers on every box. For more information, see this link.

Lemons (pronounced “lih-muns”) is a plural form of the noun lemon. A lemon is a citrus fruit known for its sour taste, almond or football-like shape, and porous yellow skin. Its juicy flesh is the pulp, the white lining is the pith, and shavings of the skin are called zest.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Lucinda was prepping a chicken primavera dish for dinner and helping her son study for his physics test at the same time. She would call out questions that he had to answer.

Her husband, Luke, walked in the door, slightly later than usual. He greeted her with a kiss.”Sorry, Lucy, traffic really sucked. Can I help?”

“Can you pass me the parsley and lumens, please?” 

“The what?”

“Sorry, wrong thing.” She took a breath. “Actually, can you slice the lemons into wedges and dice up the parsley. Then put lemon juice and parsley into a bowl? That would be great. These chicken and vegetable sautés are almost done.” 

Easily Confused Words: Cyprus vs. Cypress

Cyprus and cypress 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.

Cyprus (pronounced “sigh-pruhss”) is a proper noun. It is the name of and island nation in the Mediterranean. It is south of Turkey, and east of Syria and Lebanon. Its capital is Nicosia.

Cypress (pronounced “sigh-priss”) is a noun. It means a tree species native to the US that grows in swamps.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Silas wasn’t sure he wanted to return to Cyprus after graduating college. He had enjoyed his time being an exchange student in America. His adopted family couldn’t be nicer. On weekends, as schoolwork allowed, he really enjoyed canoeing through the cypress swamps in Georgia and South Carolina.