Easily Confused Words: Mayonnaise vs. Malaise

Mayonnaise and Malaise 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.

Malaise (pronounced “muh-layz”) is a noun. It means a condition of physical fatigue, typically forewarning that illness has set in. It can also mean a general feeling of lethargy and being uncomfortable.

Mayonnaise (pronounced “may-awn-ayz”) is a noun. This is a spread made from a raw egg yolk and olive oil base. it is used on sandwiches to moisten the bread and add flavor. Sometimes it’s called “mayo (“may-oh”)” for an abbreviation.

Today (2017), there are egg-free mayonnaise alternatives on the US market for people on vegan or low cholesterol diets.

The following story uses both words correctly:

 Malachi was starting to wish he hadn’t come to work today. He felt a general sense of malaise, like he might be really sick later. As he choked down chips and a tomato mayonnaise sandwich on break, his manager, Mallory, stopped by. 

“Are you okay?” she asked, “You look really pale.”

“I’m muddling through. The side of my stomach just started hurting.”

“We need to close. I think you might have appendicitis and I don’t know who else can drive you.”

 

Easily Confused Words: Deflect vs. Reflect

I recalled writing this post, but I looked and there was nothing here today. Gasp. So I rewrote it and saved it.

Deflect and reflect 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.

Deflect (pronounced “dee-fleckt”) is a noun. It literally means to swerve or change direction. In communication and public speaking, it means to change topics, avoid responding to someone else.

Reflect (pronounced “ree-fleckt”) is a noun. It means to mirror or provide an vertically flipped image to a viewer. Figuratively, it means

The following story uses both words correctly:

Delphi was a business and political reporter. He had noticed a disturbing trend in recent press conferences with CEOs and candidates for public office. Anytime a tough question was broached, they declined to provide a direct answer, they deflected. They answered with happier feel-good news, gave a vague answer, or just asked for someone else’s question in hopes of better odds for them.

He didn’t know if this might reflect a disturbing trend of disrespect for the press, or just fears of liability for the staff. 

Easily Confused Words: Expansive vs. Expensive

Expansive and expensive 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.

Expansive (pronounced “ehx-pan-sihv”) is an adjective. It describes something that is big is size or scope: a large area of land, a popular idea, a plan

Expensive (pronounced “ehx-pihn-sihv”) is an adjective. It describes something with a high price tag, something costing a lot of money.

The following story uses both words correctly:

The new prime minister, Xavier, had expansive plans for revitalizing aging infrastructure and a flagging economy of his country. Unfortunately, members of the opposition in Parliament just balked at how expensive it was going to be, and didn’t wish to discuss it further.

 

Easily Confused Words: Locus vs. Locust

Locus and locust 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.

Locus (pronounced “loh-kuhss”) is a noun. It means a place. It can also mean the center, the main point, or the heart of an issue or project.

Locust (pronounced “loh-kuhsst”) is a noun. It can be used to mean insects, resembling grasshoppers or crickets. Unlike grasshoppers and crickets, locusts are infamous for traveling in swarms and wiping out crops.

According to folklore, crickets were about to wipe out the crops planted by Mormon settlers colonizing the area what’s now Utah. Luckily, a massive flock of hungry seagulls saw the insects, flew in and filled their bellies with them. To this day, the seagull is a cherished creature in the Mormon religion. They liken this near-tragedy to locusts in the Bible.

Locust is a word also used to refer to cicada insects, but this is a less common usage. Cicadas are infamous for their loud buzzing in unison during late summer evenings, and a slow growing process from nymph to adulthood that takes 17 years. You can listen to some cicadas here.

There’s also locust trees, two species are native to the US; the black locust and the honey locust. These trees are noted for their long string pea looking seed pods.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Lo was part of a local community gardening project and a local tree planting initiative. the locus of the garden project was to remedy the problem of food deserts in Lotus County. The locus of the tree project was beautification and clean air. In the last month, she planted twenty honey locust trees.

 

Easily Confused Words: Adept vs. Adapt

Adept and adapt 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.

Adept (pronounced “uh-dept”; rhymes with inept) is an adjective. It describes someone who is skilled at a particular activity.

Adapt (pronounced “uh-dapt”) is a verb. It means to make changes in response to circumstances or conditions.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Adaline was very adept at accounting and doing taxes. When the office was downsized, she was asked to fill in and answer phones. It was very hard to adapt to the constant interruptions, and it was impossible to concentrate. The office hired an intern and tasked him with answering the phone. With his outgoing personality, Hadrian was a natural at interacting with the public.  

Easily Confused Words: Whit vs. Wit

Whit and wit 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.

Whit (pronounced “whit”) is a noun. It means a particle, a bit, an insignificant amount. Typically it’s used to negatively make a comparison or a critique. For example: I had a coupon for a new detergent that made bold promises. Unfortunately it performed not a whit better than the previous brand.

Wit (pronounced “wiht”) is a noun. It means timely observations and clever commentary, perceptions. Witty is a related adjective to describe someone who makes these observations.

  • The idiom, to wit, means “that is to say..” or “in simpler terms…”

The following story uses both words correctly:

Witek was a colorful and memorable personality in his high school class. He cared not one whit what others thought. He had bold fashion sense, with a sharp tongue and a razor like wit. In the yearbook, he quoted Oscar Wilde: “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”

Easily Confused Words: Capuchin vs. Cappuccino

Capuchin and cappuccino 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.

Capuchin (pronounced “kap-uh-chin”) is a proper noun with multiple meanings.

  • It means an offshoot of the Franciscan order of monks in the Roman Catholic religion. Click the link to learn more.
  • It means a species of monkey native to Central and South America. The monkey has black and white coloring. It is highly likely that the monkey got its name because the dark fur around its face resembled a hood or cowl like a monk wears.

Ross’ monkey on the 1990s sitcom “Friends,” Marcel, was a Capuchin monkey.

Cappuccino (pronounced “ka-poh-chee-noh”; some southern US: “kappa-chee-nah”) is a proper noun. It comes from the Italian language. It means a coffee drink made with espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. Flavorings from syrup and spices are up to the customer.

Thanks to the success of US franchises Starbucks and Olive Garden, Italian coffee and dessert words are much more familiar today than they were pre-1990s.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Caprian thought it wouldn’t be a problem to bring his Capuchin monkey, Alonzo, to work at the coffee shop. Unfortunately, one of his coworkers left the office door open, and the monkey quickly escaped. It ran towards Caprian’s voice and leapt onto the counter as he was serving a cappuccino to a customer. Foam, milk, and coffee splashed everywhere.