Easily Confused Words: Deflect vs. Deflate

Deflect and deflate 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.

Deflect (pronounced “dee-fleckt”) is a verb. It literally means to swerve or change direction. In communication and public speaking, it means to change topics to avoid directly responding to someone else’s inquiry.

Deflate (pronounced “dee-flayt”) is a verb. Literally, it means to lose air. Anything that depends on air for shape can deflate: an air mattress, a balloon,

More figuratively, it means to lose status, robustness, or confidence. Maybe you’ve heard of a deflated ego.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Delphina had been a political reporter for many years. She was used to the tricks some politicians used to throw her off her game.It was funny to notice that several generations of politicians resorted to the same old tactics and they didn’t work on seasoned reporters like herself.

Some mocked her intelligence, assuming that if they deflated her ego that she’d back off or be distracted to keep after them. Others deflected when asked hard questions. But Delphina reworded her questions and asked again. No one could claim she wasn’t persistent.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Deflect vs. Reflect




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