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.”

 

 

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