Easily Confused Words: Wield vs. Wiled

Wield and Wiled 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.

Wield is a verb. It means to have a weapon or powerful asset in one’s possession.

Wiled is the past tense of the verb wile. To wile is to entice, bewitch, or entrap with one’s behavior or qualities. In the popular idiom, “wiled away,” the speaker is using up time in pursuit of a pleasure or a hobby instead of chores or assigned work.

The following story uses both words correctly:

As a child, Wilfred wiled away hours with fencing and swordplay. Wielding a sword, like a pirate or knight from days of old, gave him a real rush. It was not surprising to anyone when he qualified for the fencing team in the Olympics, and later became a sword fighting consultant for period films. 

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Wild vs. Wiled

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