Easily Confused Words: Wind Chill vs. Windshield

Windchill and windshield 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.

Windchill (pronounced “wihnd-chihll”) is a noun. In colder seasons, it means an approximation of how the temperature outside feels on a person’s skin. It’s usually below the actual temperature, but within 5-10 degrees. Our bodies lose heat faster in colder seasons. For the calculation formula, see weather.gov.

Windshield (pronounced “wihnd-sheeld”) is a noun. It means the angled pane of glass mounted in front of a driver’s seat in a vehicle. There are also windshields in front of the cockpits of planes and boats.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Winfield, a truck driver, was on a cross country trip making an urgent delivery of goods. He suddenly noticed his windshield had a crack in it. Ordinarily he would stop and try to fix it, but he couldn’t afford to lose several hours of travel time. It was also the dead of winter, 10°F outside with a windchill of 5°F. 

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