Easily Confused Words: Tighty Whities vs. Tidy

Tighty Whiteys and tidy 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.

Tighty-Whities (pronounced “tie-tea”  “why-tee”) is a slang phrase for men and boys’ boxer brief underwear.

Tidy (pronounced “tie-dee”) is an adjective. It describes something neat and clean, like a room or workspace.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Tyler and Teddy were twins, but they had very different temperments. Tyler’s side of their room was always tidy. Teddy’s side, meanwhile, had crumpled papers, legos, and dirty underwear scattered around. 

Their mom had had about enough. “Please pick up your tighty-whities and put them in the hamper. This room smells terrible!”


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