Easily Confused Words: Scab vs. Scarab

Scab and scarab 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.

Scab (pronounced “skyab”; rhymes with tab, blab, crab) is a noun. It means the dried pile of platelets covering a healed cut in the skin. It’s tempting to pick at scabs, but they are part of the healing process and best left alone until they flake off on their own. This allows the new skin underneath to fully heal.

Scarab (pronounced “sk-yair-uhb”; rhymes with arab) is a noun. It is another word for dung beetle. It can also mean gems or stones cut to resemble beetles.

The following story uses both words correctly:

A month ago, Sagar had found a scarab-cut opal at a pawn shop and assumed it was lucky find. However, since that time, he had been more klutzy. His arms and legs were covered in scabs from cuts and scrapes sustained in everyday activities.

Maybe the scarab wasn’t a lucky charm after all, but the opposite. Maybe that would explain what it was doing at the pawn shop in the first place. 

This post is related to another post: Easily Confused Words: Scabbard vs. Scarab.

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