Easily Confused Words: Skeptical vs. Spectacle

Skeptical and spectacle 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.

Skeptical (pronounced “skehp-tih-kuhl”) is an adjective. It describes someone who doesn’t believe what he/she sees or hears, someone who tends to ask questions or be critical. For example, being a journalist often requires a person to be skeptical and curious.

Spectacle (pronounced “spehk-tih-kuhl”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, it describes an event or happening coming into view or placed before one’s eyes.
  • As an adjective, it also describes an impressive display, or an elaborate show, a remarkable event meant to wow onlookers.
  • The plural noun, spectacles, means the glasses worn by a person for better vision.
  • In the idiom “make a spectacle,” someone is drawing attention to themselves to get attention, be a topic of gossip, or both.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Scarlett was skeptical. Her friends were raving about a boy band concert. They insisted she had to go too, because it promised to be quite the spectacle, and everyone would be there. 



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