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. 

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