Easily Confused Words: Fired vs. Fried

Fired and fried 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.

Fired (pronounced “f-eye-uhrrd”) has multiple meanings.

  • As the past tense of the verb “fire”, it means a dismissal from a job that happened in the past.
  • As the past tense of the verb “fire”, it means a burning of greenware that happened in the past.
  • As an adjective, it describes a process used in food preparation or art-making: wood-fired pizza, kiln-fired pots

Fried (pronounced “fr-eyed”) has multiple meanings.

  • As the past tense of the verb “fry,” it means a cooking process that happened in the past: she fried eggs for dinner last night.
  • As an adjective, it describes a food preparation technique of cooking in a hot pan over heat, or, for deep frying, cooking something in hot oil. For example, a hallmark of southern food is fried chicken. Fried ravioli is an appetizer at some Italian-American restaurants.
  • As an adjective, it describes something non-edible that got burned or electrocuted. Sometimes, it may be used as hyperbole, or the exaggeration of events for emotional effect.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Frey was devastated after she got fired from a hedge fund management firm. She wasn’t sure what to do next. A friend suggested she take a chance on an “everything fried” food truck: hush puppies, ravioli, zucchini, cheese bread, pretty much anything fried. At a loss for what else to do, she took her friend’s advice and gave it a shot. Within two years, it was the hottest food truck in town. 

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