Easily Confused Words: Peril vs. Parole

Peril and parole 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.

Peril (pronounced “pair-ihll”) is a noun. It means a state of danger, risk, or hazardous conditions.

Parole (pronounced “puh-roll”) is a noun. It means someone’s release from prison, but with conditions. If the conditions are violated, this person would likely be headed back to jail.

Parole has an adjective form, for example, in the phrase “parole officer.” This describes their role as a court appointed mentor for people recently released on parole.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Priyanka’s parolee, Paul, called her, saying some friends from his old crew called with an amazing business opportunity. Knowing they were sketchy characters who had got him in trouble in the first place, this raised a red flag for her.

“Paul, don’t associate with these guys. Don’t call them back. Start your life over. The minute you start hearing them out and giving them another chance, you put your parole in peril.”

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