Easily Confused Words: Ilk vs. Elk

Ilk and elk 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.

Ilk (pronounced “ihlk”) is a noun. It means of a kind or type.

Elk (pronounced “ellk”) is a noun. It means a large mammal in the deer family found in North America. Male elk are known for their large spread rack of pointed antlers, a bearded neck area, and the bugling cry they make in mating season. Elk tend to like hilly, mountainous areas of Appalachia, the Rockies, the Smokies.

Elk are also called wapiti, an indigenous word.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Illeana forgot to bring a jacket for her spring trip to Canada. It was colder than she had expected. When she was offered one made from elk hide, she said, “No thank you, I do not wear animal hides, I’m not of that ilk. I need to go to an outdoors store and get a fleece or wool jacket.”

Her hosts sighed. Not only was one of those stores miles away, but they had a bad feeling she was going to be a demanding guest.




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