Easily Confused Words: Skeptic vs. Septic

Skeptic and septic are easily confused words. One of these words deals with some biological stuff, so I hope you aren’t eating while reading this.

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.

Skeptic (pronounced “skehp-tick”) is a noun. It means someone inclined not trust believe incoming information. The related adjective is skeptical, which describes someone disinclined to believe what he/she sees, reads, or hears.

Septic (pronounced “sehp-tick”) is an adjective.

It describes something related to sepsis or being infected. Sepsis means invaded by microorganisms or toxins. Even in 2017, it is possible to die from sepsis.

It can also refer to something putrefactive, or relating to decay or decomposition. For example, a septic tank is a tank buried in the yard of a home that connects to household plumbing. It handles toilet and other wastewater and must be monitored that all its contents are not overwhelming the tank. Periodically their contents must be vaccummed/suctioned out. Septic tanks are used for homes that are rural, and/or not connected to a city sewer/wastewater system.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Saku was house-sitting in the Ozark mountains, working on her novel, when a knock came at the door. A man was offering to examine the septic system and make sure it was working properly. This had been the second free laborer to come by and offer home-related services without her or the owner’s request. Being an affirmed skeptic, she declined to grant him access to look at anything related to the house. 

Easily Confused Words: Form vs. From

Form and from 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.

Form (pronounced “fohrrmm”) has multiple meanings.

As a noun, it means a document covered in boxes that must be filled out. Forms are used to file taxes, and apply for licenses or registrations. In the pre-internet age, forms were printed on paper. In the post-internet age, many forms are online and much of the information is typed in. The form is then printed out and hand-signed in ink, or

From (pronounced “fruhm”) is a preposition. Prepositions indicate location relationships between two or more nouns.

“From” indicates an origin or starting point for a thing:

  • The flowers are from my uncle.
  • Judy is from Maine.
  • I need a flight from Chicago to Dallas.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Fiona was helping a woman at the post office send a package overseas for the first time:

If you want to send a package overseas, you will have to fill out a customs form. A customs form includes sections for the “to” address, the “from” address, a description of the package’s contents, and its monetary value.

 

 

 

 

Easily Confused Words: Minutes vs. Minutiae

Minutes and minutiae 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.

Minutes (pronounced “mihn-uhts”) is a noun, it’s the plural of minute.

  • As a noun, minutes means the units of time that make up hours. For example, 525,600 Minutes is a frequent phrase in “Seasons of Love,” a song in the musical Rent.
  • As a noun, minutes can also mean notes taken at a meeting so there’s a record of what was discussed.

Minutiae (pronounced “my-new-shuh”) is a noun. It means details, but it’s a negative connotation. It’s used in a derogatory or insulting way, as if details are receiving too much attention, or being given more importance than

The following story uses both words correctly:

Minnie took generalized minutes at this week’s meeting. Last week, she wrote down everything. After submitting them for approval, she was chided by her boss for including too much “minutiae.”

 

 

Easily Confused Words: Patent vs. Patient

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.

Patents (pronounced “pat-ihnts”; rhymes with “hadn’t” and “fatten”) is the plural of patent, which has multiple forms.

  • As a noun, patent and patents refers to a legal document certifying invention of a product, drug formulation, or other unique thing. For a determined numbers of years, the patent holder has exclusive production rights. People infringing on these exclusive rights are subject to lawsuit.
  • As an adjective, patent describes things related to the invention documentation process: patent law, patent attorney.
  • As an adjective, patent can also describes a finish on leather or vinyl that is extremely smooth and glossy.
  • As an adjective, it can describe an evident display of good or bad traits.
  • As an adjective, it can also describe an open, unenclosed field, but this is a less frequently used meaning.

Patients (pronounced “pay-shunts”) is the plural form of “patient.” Patient is a noun, it means a customer or client of a healthcare provider. It can also mean a participant in a drug trial or other study, or a recipient of some action performed by an agent.

Patients is not to be confused with patience, an adjective. It describes the quality of being able to wait one’s turn or delay gratification.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Patrice was excited about a patent he was about to file for a patient alert and management system. 

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Impatiens vs. Impatience, Easily Confused Words: Impatiens vs. Inpatient.

Easily Confused Words: Stats vs. Starts

Stats and starts 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.

Stats (pronounced “statz”, rhymes with “hats”) is a noun, it’s the plural of “stat.” Stat is slang, it is short for “statistics.”

It’s not to be confused with doctor jargon: “Get the patients vitals, STAT.” In this phrase, STAT is a way of saying “as soon as possible,” or “I need this right away.”

Stat can also be slang for words that have -stat at the end of the word instead of the beginning. I can’t say I’ve heard it used this way much at all.

Starts (pronounced “stahrtz”; rhymes with “hearts” “darts” “parts’) is a verb. It is the he/she/it tense of “start.”

He starts the car, she starts a new job, it starts to get momentum after two years 

The following story uses both words correctly:

Before Steadman starts his weekly sports podcast, he chooses three to five topics of interest, and then researches stats. 

Easily Confused Words: Consensus vs. Conscientious

Consensus and conscientious 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.

Consensus (pronounced “kawn-sin-suss”) is a noun. It means popular opinion, predominant opinions of the current times, or accepted notions of how things are.

Conscientious (pronounced “kawn-shee-ihnt-shuss”) is an adjective. It describes someone who heeds their conscience, or that inner voice for integrity, honor, and “doing the right thing.”

The following story uses both words correctly:

The consensus in Cooperstown was that Concetta Charles was the conscientious choice for governor. The state faced some challenging years ahead.

Easily Confused Words: Perish vs. Parish

Perish and parish 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.

Perish (pronounced “pair-ish”) is a verb. It means to die or to be destroyed.

Parish (pronounced “pair-ish”) is a noun. It means a religious or other district.

In the US state of Louisiana, it’s what the counties are called instead of “county.” In other historic communities of the eastern US, colonial maps may list communities by their relationship to the local church.

The following story uses both words correctly:

After a devastating hurricane in fall 1880, Primrose Parish lost a lot of people. The local clergy weren’t sure their small congregations would recover population after such a disaster. In the weeks that followed, despair set in. Many people, facing limited job opportunities and wrecked, flooded homes just bought the cheapest wagon and horse they could find, loaded up the family, and left for good. Within 10 years, the community was down to five people; it was destined to perish.