Easily Confused Words: Nation vs. Notion

Nation and notion 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.

Nation (pronounced “nay-shun”) is a noun. It’s another way of saying a country, or a large grouping of people associated with a specific geographic location.

  • It can mean a member a grouping of indigenous tribes in the Americas: Cherokee, Sioux, etc.
  • In pop culture, it can also refer to a grouping of fans for a show, a book, a sports team, or other creative or recreational effort.

Notion (pronounced “noh-shun”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it can mean an opinion, observation, persuasion, or idea that someone has.
  • As a noun, it can mean supplies used for a specific craft or task, like sewing.

The following story uses both words correctly:

“The island nation of Narzallea has a notion they are sovereign, but we know otherwise. We are one Ukurtu. Rebellion forces, if organized, will be quickly vanquished,” said the PM of Ukurtu to to the Parliament.

This address was nationally televised and broadcast on the radio. 

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