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.” 


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