Easily Confused Words: Gem vs. Gym

Gem and gym 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.

Gem (“jemm”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a colored rock formation mined from the earth. When gems are cut, then buffed, they are used for jewelry and other embellishments. Emeralds, diamonds, sapphires, and rubies are examples of precious gems.
  • As an adjective, it describes someone or something that is precious, of high value, or treasured.

Gym (pronounced “jihm”) is a noun. It means a room designed for exercise, or a building full of rooms that are designed for physical exercise. Typically gyms offer barbells, weights, weight machines, exercise machines, swimming pools, and/or indoor sports courts. Many offer classes with instructors.

It can also means a required physical activity class in primary and secondary school.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Gemma got home from the gym and was about to hop in the shower. As her hand swept past her face to loosen her sweaty updo, she realized something was wrong. She looked at her left hand again, and instantly crestfallen.  The emerald from her engagement ring had fallen out somewhere. She would have to go back and see if she could locate it, or if someone had turned it in.

Meanwhile at the gym, Jamie was walking around wiping down machines when he spotted something shiny on the floor. As he got closer, he realized it was a gem, possibly an emerald or ruby. He was about to walk it to the manager’s office when Gemma burst through the door.

“I lost a stone from my ring,” she said between breaths.

“Is it green?” Jamie shouted.

“Yes!” Gemma shouted back. He walked over to where she was standing.

“I think I have right here,” Jamie said, now in closer proximity.

“Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!” Gemma exclaimed. She tucked the stone in a zippered pocket in her purse. Then she pulled out a $20 bill and said, “I want to give you something for your help.”

“Thanks,” said Jamie.


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