Easily Confused Words: Apocryphal vs. Apocalypse

Apocryphal and Apocalypse 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.

Apocryphal (pronounced “uh-pock-ruh-full”) is an adjective. It describes something of doubtful origins, truthfulness, or both, something phony or false. For example, you might use this word to describe fake news.

Apocalypse (pronounced “uh-pock-uh-lips”) is a noun. It means a massive state of disaster or destruction.

As a proper noun (spelled with a capitalized first letter), the Apocalypse means the end of the world in Christian religions. This is a final showdown of good and evil. It is based on events documented in the Book of Revelations in the New Testament of the Bible.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Apu was watching his twin toddlers and trying to review some documents for work. The documents were hard to concentrate on; they contained some apocryphal spelling and grammar errors. Thankfully the boys were occupied watching a cartoon in the other room.

Two hours later, Anzu his wife came home with dinner. She was taking night classes for an MBA. Laughter and screaming erupted from the boys room as she set down the bags and she kissed Apu hello.

“Have you checked on them in awhile?” Anzu asked.

“They were fine, they had a movie on.” Apu said.

She walked down the hall and discovered a scene out of a daycare apocalypse: toys all over the floor, marker drawings on the wall and on the boys’ faces, and the smell of dirty diapers. 

“Honey, can you come here?” she shrieked. It had already been a long day of work and school, and it was going to be a long night cleaning all this up.


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