Easily Confused Words: Board vs. Bored

Board and bored 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.

Board (pronounced “bohrd”) is a noun. It means a rectangular piece of wood, or fibrous material formed into a typically rectangular shape.

Bored (pronounced “bohrd”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, it describes someone who is unenthusiastic about their circumstances, or someone describing his/herself and their unenthusiastic attitude about current circumstances.
  • As a verb, it is the past tense of bore. To bore someone means to tire or to wear out his/her interest with an activity. School lectures are notorious for creating bored, sleepy students.
  • As a verb, it is the past tense of bore. Bore means to cut a round hole into wood or other surface with a rotary cutting machine. Animals, like carpenter bees and woodpecker birds, bore holes with their mouths to create their nesting sites.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Boris was bored with his summer job at the hardware store. He was required to clean the floors and keep the aisles stocked with merchandise. Once a week, he made wood cutouts for children’s birdhouse classes. This involved cutting squares, rectangles, and polygons from pine boards, then holes had to be bored into the polygons for the entry holes. This job was so mundane. If most of the summer weren’t already gone, he would be looking for other work.


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