Easily Confused Words: Quartz vs. Quarts

Quartz and quarts 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.

Quartz (“kwartzhh”) is a noun. It is a solid rock made of silicon dioxide. Pure quartz is colorless and fully translucent. Quartz is used in watch mechanics, interior and exterior design of buildings, and in jewelry and other precious stone art.

Colorful and patterned quartz gets its hues from impurities of other minerals.

  • Chalcedony is a varying shades of blue and aqua.
  • Bloodstone is a deep earthy red and very opaque.
  • Amethyst is a lilac to lavender purple, and the birthstone of February.
  • Citrine is a golden orange, and the birthstone of November.

Quarts (pronounced “kwohrts” or “kwarts”) is the plural form of the noun quart. A quart is a liquid measurement. It equates to two US pints, or four US cups. Four quarts make up a gallon.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Querida prepared several quarts of lemonade for the workers who would be installing her new quartz countertops tomorrow afternoon. She was so excited! She would finally be getting a kitchen like those of celebrity chefs on television. 

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Easily Confused Words: Shalom vs. Slalom

Shalom and slalom 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.

Shalom (pronounced “shah-lohhhmm”; rhymes with comb, loam, foam) is a Hebrew word meaning “peace.”

  • “Shalom” can also be a first name meaning “peaceful,” for example, 1990s supermodel Shalom Harlow.

Slalom (pronounced “sluhl-uhm”; rhymes with rum, drum, thumb) is a Norwegian word.

  • As a noun, it means a careening, extremely curvy, or zigzag course. A skiier must hit flags or gates posted at each curve on their way down the course in order to score points.
    • A similar course path can be used to test a car’s maneuverability in tight turns, or an in-line skater on a cement course with cones.
  • As an adjective, slalom describes a zigzag course, or a skiier who’s skills in this type course are exceptional.
  • As a verb, to slalom means to careen back and forth, weave, or make zigzag movements on foot, or in a car.

The following story uses both words correctly:

There was some anxiety afoot at the Winter Games about two rivals meeting for the first time in years at the giant slalom. Since the last event, tensions had risen dramatically between their two countries. It was expected the two would be cold and distant with each other. To everyone’s surprise, when Safwan entered the arena, Samson walked up and embraced him, “Hello and Shalom, my friend, how was your flight?”

Later in a press conference, media asked Safwan about their meeting. “Was that awkward at all?”

“No, not really. We train in Utah on the same courses a good part of the year. We’re athletes who represent our countries in sports every couple years. We’re not government personnel.”

 

Easily Confused Words: Venal vs. Venial

Venal and venial 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.

Venal (pronounced “vee-nuhl”) is an adjective. It describes someone corrupt, someone who can be “bought” or bribed into using their status or position, or at least complicity in someone else’s bad behavior.

Venial (pronounced “veen-ee-yuhl”, or “veen-yuhl”; rhymes with menial, congenial) is an adjective. In Roman Catholicism, it describes milder, less egregious forms of sinful behavior. More generally speaking, it describes something minor, something trifling, something that’s upsetting to one party and barely offensive to another. These days (2010s), we might label microaggressions as being venial in nature.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Vyndellah was managing the campaign for a promising candidate for mayor, Jacinda Jiménez. If she won, she would be the first woman and person of color to ever be elected in the role. As such, Vyndellah took her role very seriously. She wanted to avoid scandal by thoroughly vetting people to work on the campaign.

She was approached by a number of experienced people who were excited about being a part of the Jiménez. Their experience could be very helpful and insightful. Unfortunately, one was a former council member who had to resign in shame five years ago after receiving too many accusations of venal behavior. He was very politically savvy, but this campaign couldn’t afford to be his opportunity for redemption. The scandal was still fresh in voters minds. 

“Wow, I’m sorry he can’t be on the team,” said Valerie. “Nobody’s going to be perfect, Vyndellah. What are venial transgressions that wouldn’t disqualify someone?”

“I’ll know them when I see them. But I’d prefer no transgressions at all, Valerie.”

 

 

Easily Confused Words: Pithy vs. Pity

Pithy and pity 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.

Pithy (pronounced “pih-thh-ee”) is an adjective. It describes sour, bitter, or stinging comments made about someone else, their appearance, and their workmanship.

For example, you might describe the anonymous comments left online by trolls as pithy, if not downright mean.

A related noun, pith, means the creamy yellow membrane found in citrus fruits that encloses the flesh and juice, and binds the peel to the flesh. Usually this isn’t eaten because it has a bitter taste.

Pity (pronounced “pih-tee”; rhymes with witty, pretty) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a feeling of sympathy or sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.
  • As a verb, it means to feel sorry for, be generous to someone who’s unlucky.
  • A related adjective is “pitiful,” it describes someone worthy of pity. Warren Zevon had a song called “Poor Poor Pitiful Me.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Pittman took little pity on his neighbors at the community meeting. If they made pithy comments and refused to propose solutions to problems, he would rather they just stay home. Coming to the meeting to be a nuisance just wasted people’s time.

 

Easily Confused Words: Aberrant vs. Abhorrent

Aberrant and abhorrent 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.

Aberrant (pronounced “uh-bear-uhnt”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, it describes something tangential, something off course from the original path, action, or train of thought.
  • As a noun, it means someone or something in the state of being unusual, exceptional, or divergent in some way.

Abhorrent (pronounced “uhb-hore-uhnt”; rhymes with torrent) is an adjective. It describes something detestable, disgusting, or horrifying.

The related verb, abhor, means to feel intense hatred for something.

The following story uses both words correctly:

At a debate, Abhinav was writing about what each candidate had to say. He had studied political science and rhetoric in school, so he was wise to techniques others might miss.

A popular time-killer was the aberrant folksy tale about a candidate’s childhood or family. It gave the audience a warm, relatable feeling, but it took up time and failed to answer any real questions about policy. Abhinav found these habits abhorrent; they would never fly in ordinary job interviews. What mattered was could you do the job, and did you care about doing the job, especially in hard situations. 

Easily Confused Words: Feet vs. Feat

Feet and feat are easily confused words. They are also homophones, meaning they sound the same, but are spelled differently and mean different things.

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.

Feet (pronounced “feet”; rhymes with wheat, teat, meat) is a noun. It means the part of the body at the end of the legs. Feet enable us to balance, walk, run, dance, etc.

Feat (pronounced “feet”; rhymes with wheat, teat, meat) is a noun. It means an achievement, or an impressive goal or task performance.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Phoebe was training hard to take her gymnastics skills to the highest levels. Her unique choreography with her flips, tumbles and cartwheel combinations were an incredible feat. The hard part was landing on both feet without stepping to adjust her balance.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Fete vs. Feat

Easily Confused Words: Wind Shear vs. Windshield

Wind shear and windshield are easily confused terms.

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.

Wind shear (pronounced “wihnd sh-ear”) is a noun, it’s a meteorological (aka weather) term. It means the rate at which the wind changes direction, at how fast those changes are occurring.

Wind shear is annoying for people on the ground trying to keep their scarves or umbrellas from blowing away, but it can be deadly for aircraft trying to stay on course in stormy, or wintry, conditions. The lighter and smaller the aircraft, the more vulnerable it is to get whipped around by wind shear. Even heavier planes, like commercial flights, experience turbulence, which can happen in reaction to wind shear.

Windshield (pronounced “wihnd-shee-ld”; rhymes with repealed, revealed) is a noun. It means a curved pane of glass found on airplanes, powerboats, yachts, motorcycles and automobiles. Windshields protect the driver from wind resistance, precipitation, and airborne insects.

In the UK, they are called windscreens.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Windel noticed the rain slapping his windshield as he headed to the airport. He had a feeling his passengers would be angry when their holiday flights were delayed. Given today’s wind shear, though, it was likely impossible to fly into Chicago from Denver.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Wind Chill vs. Windshield