Easily Confused Words: Platte vs. Plait

Platte and plait are easily confused words. Both words relate to interwoven strands in different ways.

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.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Platte (pronounced “plat”) is a proper noun. It means a river in Nebraska. The North and South Platte Rivers flow into the Platte River, which flows into the Missouri River, which flows into the Mississippi River. The Mississippi flows down into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Platte is described as muddy, shallow, with many small islands in it, a braided stream. Which is interesting, considering the meaning of the next word.

Plait (pronounced UK: “plat” US: “playt”/”plat”) is a noun. It means a braid of hair, straw, or other stringy object.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Peter waded through the Platte River, headed towards the family’s campsite for that evening. He was carrying five trout and a rabbit from two strands of plaited rope. It wasn’t much, but it would have to do for tonight’s dinner. This new land was bountiful, each day brought new adventures. He longed for the day they found a homestead and started building a cabin. 

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Plates vs. Plaits.


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