Easily Confused Words: Rook vs. Ruche

Rook and ruche are easily confused words. In American English, a “ch” sometimes bears a “k” sound, while others have a “sh” sound.  If the word is unfamiliar to you, it’s easy to guess wrong.

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.

Rook (pronounced rook, rhymes with book, look, took) has multiple meanings.

As a noun:

  • In nature, this is a European crow, known for its ugly cry.
  • At cards and gambling, it can mean a cheat or a swindler.
  • In chess, this is traditionally the castle or turret-looking piece. It can be moved any number of empty squares on the board, horizontally or vertically.

As a verb, it means to cheat or swindle.

Ruche (pronounced “roosh”) is a noun. It’s a fashion word that comes from French, specifically a word used for beehives and tree bark. In fashion, it means a pleated or gathered piece of lace or other trim for a piece of clothing.

Today (2017, 21st century), ruche can appear on clothes, especially formal dresses. However, on casual clothes, “ruching” means pleated or gathering stitches. Often, it’s so the fabric drapes in form-fitting, or other eye-catching ways. Check out this post on craftsy for examples of ruching on handmade clothes. Vintage 1930s and some early 1940s women’s clothes in the US and Europe feature ruching on the bodice, the waist or hips.

Ruching is also used on bedspreads, duvets, and curtains.

The following story uses both words correctly:

As a rook cried outside her window and the daylight grew dim, Rilla finished stitching ruche on the hem of her dress. Tonight was the harvest dance, and her circle of girl friends would be here any minute. They had bought dresses from the store, but she had made something new out of one of her mom’s old gowns. She also borrowed some of her mother’s old shoes; thankfully they were the same size. She hoped she would have a fun time, and hoped no one would mock her handmade clothes.

She unrolled her pin curls, tousled her hair, and misted it with AquaNet. She put on some mascara and red lipstick, smiled satisfactorily at her reflection in the mirror, and headed out the door. 

 

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