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Windshield (pronounced “wihnd-shee-ld”; rhymes with repealed, revealed) is a noun.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



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