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. 









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