Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Boos vs. Booze

Boos and booze 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.

Boos (“booz”; rhymes with lose, fuse, dues, ooze, snooze) has multiple meanings.

  • As the plural of the noun “boo,” it means the disapproving calls from an audience made in unison.
  • As the plural of the noun “boo,” it means multiple sweethearts or romantic partners. This usage entered US pop culture 2000s-beyond.
  • As the “he/she/it” form of the verb “boo.” Here are some examples:
    • He boos when the band says it’s their last song. To him, the night is just getting started!
    • She boos at the television when the Bachelorette picks the wrong man.
    • According to local lore, at the historic hotel downtown, there’s a ghost lurking about. It always boos at midnight and keeps the guests awake. It stomps up and down the stairs and rattles cowbells.
  • Around Halloween in the US (the end of October), home decor and party gear has pun-filled messages that spell “booze” as “boos,” “girls” as “ghouls,” “b*tches” as “witches,” etc.

Booze (rhymes with lose, fuse, dues, ooze, snooze) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it’s a slang term for alcoholic beverages.
  • As a verb, it means to drink alcoholic beverages in abundance.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Maybe it was their imagination after too much booze in too few hours. As they stumbled back to their apartment, two young women coming back from a party swore that an old bootlegger’s car whizzed by them. It almost ran them off the side of the road. They heard a car horn, catcalls, and boos as it swept past. They dove into a nearby yard to avoid the car. They were a muddy mess all the way home, but at least they survived.

The next day over brunch, recovering from hangovers, the women told their friends about the encounter. The server stopped at their table to refill their coffee. Having overheard the conversation, she interjected, “That sounds like the ghost of Billy Blane.”

“Who?” The women inquired.

“He was a notorious bootlegger who got lost in the fog one night in 1931. He had his teenage brother Benjamin with him. They were never seen again.”

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Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Aye-Aye vs. Eye

Aye-Aye and Eye 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.

Aye-Aye (pronounced”I-I” or “eye-eye”; rhymes with my my) is a type of lemur that lives on Madagascar, an island off the southeast coast of African continent. The animated film Madagascar made ring-tailed lemurs (like King Julien) famous, but there are actually 32 more species of lemurs.

The aye-aye is nocturnal. It’s known for its long spindly fingers that tap on trees. If the aye-aye hears hollowness, it knows bugs are hiding behind the bark and they bore into trees to feast on them. It also has 4 large front teeth–2 on top, 2 on bottom, like a rodent. Check out this video of their feeding technique.

So, what about “Aye aye, Captain (pronounced “eye eye kapp-tuhn”?). This has nothing to do with the animal. This is a nautical phrase indicating agreement with orders from the leader of a ship. This sounds a lot like a Scottish word use for “yes” or “affirmative” = “Aye.” The Royal Scots Navy dates back to the Middle Ages and was merged with the English Royal Navy in the early 1700s. The likelihood that this word carried over from nations with a long seafaring tradition like Scotland’s. “Aye” is also used in government voting for bills. Representatives and Senators typically vote “Aye or No (Yes or No.)” When most votes are affirmative for the new bill or procedure, the phrase is “the Ayes have it.”

Eye (pronounced just like capital “I”; rhymes with spy, my, lie, fly) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means the part of the body used for vision. Its also used in communication. Making contact with the other person’s eyes, typically shows confidence and builds trust.
  • As a verb, it means to look at something intently or with desire.

The following story uses both words, Aye-Aye and Eye, correctly:

Eileen was taking a nighttime nature hike through Masoala National Park with a flashlight. She heard many mysterious and intriguing sounds. She eyed the glowing circles in the distance and thought it was an owl, but it was actually a curious aye-aye. 

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Eyed vs. Eid, Easily Confused Words: Eyed vs. I’d

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Dinghy vs. Dingy

Dinghy, dingy, and dingy are easily confused words. Usually I try to keep each post to a comparison of two words, but since one word has one spelling, but two meanings and two different pronunciations, I’ve included both of those.

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.

Dinghy (pronounced “dihng-ee”; rhymes with stringy) is a noun. It means a small, motorized, often inflatable boat used to come ashore from a larger boat.

Dingy (pronounced “dihn-jee”; rhymes with stingy) is an adjective. It describes something dark, dirty, rancid, or moldy. Today (2018) you hear “dank” used more often among young people.

Dingy (pronounced “dihng-ee”; rhymes with stringy, homophone of “dinghy”) is an adjective. It describes someone who isn’t very smart and observant.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Captain Dan was frantic. “Where’s the dinghy? Someone stole the dinghy, Dennis!”

“I lent the dinghy to some kids that wanted to go for a ride. We have a boat, it was a spare.” Dennis hadn’t had much boating experience, and thought it was a nice gesture. They said they would give it back, but he hadn’t seen them for hours now.

Captain Dan was enraged. “Are you kidding me? This boat is a dingy mess. We need supplies. How are we supposed to get ashore now?” 

“It’s okay. I have Life Saver candies,” said Dennis, beaming with pride.

“That’s just a shape of the candy, it doesn’t actually rescue anything!” Captain Dan barked.

“Oh….well, that’s deceptive,” replied Dennis, realizing they were screwed and it might be his fault.

“I’ve never been boating with someone as dingy as you, Dennis.”

“Why, thank you, Captain Dan.”

“That wasn’t a compliment. I’ll be in my quarters using the radio to get help. ARGH!” 

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Serrano vs. Serrated

Serrano and serrated 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.

Serrano (pronounced “sir-awn-oh”) is a noun. It is a type of chili pepper originating in the mountains of Puebla and Hidalgo, Mexico. It is featured in Thai and other hot-spicy cuisines, it is sometimes called a bird chile. It is very hot–more than a poblano or jalapeño, but less than a ghost or habanero. The peppers’ heat is measured in Scoville units. Learn more here.

Serrated (pronounced “”sir-A-tihd”; rhymes with berated) is an adjective. It describes a spiky or jagged edge to a knife, sword, or other blade.

It can also describe a jagged or toothy look to less dangerous objects, like perforated papers once they’ve been torn apart, or the bumpy edges of some plants’ leaves (i.e., roses, birches, Virginia creeper vine, muscadine).

The following story uses both words correctly:

Serrenna was slicing serrano and poblano peppers at her family’s restaurant to help out. After several hours on shift, she cut her finger with a serrated knife. She had to go to the hospital and get stitches.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Bated vs. Baited

Bated and baited 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.

Bated (pronounced “bay-tihd”) is an adjective. It describes someone anxious or nervous. It can also describe qualities of a person who is anxious or nervous.

Baited (pronounced “bay-tihd”) is the past tense of the verb “bait.” It literally means putting worms or other food on a hook for fishing. Figuratively, it means to lure or entrap with a treat or something appealing, like flattery, gifts, sweets, cash, etc.

So “baited” means a lure was prepared for fishing in the past, or someone was lured into doing something they likely didn’t really want to do, in the past.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Bathus was a brutish CEO, but he easily baited new workers with promises. Promises of vacation time, promises of the high potential for raises, bonuses and promotions. He also had frequent good press in the news, which made his company appear to be an exciting, glamorous place to work. Many applicants waited with bated breath to hear they’d been hired.

Once an employee, though, they realized all that glittered was not gold. Raises came for barely 2% of employees, the hours were very long, and taking vacation time was frowned upon. 

Easily Confused Words, Uncategorized

Easily Confused Words: Drupal vs. Drupe

Drupal and Drupe 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.

Drupal (pronounced “droo-puhl”; rhymes with pupil) is an open source computer language. It was created by Dries Buytaert in 2000. It’s named for the Dutch word for the noun “drop;” like water, or other liquid, from a tap.

[Per the link, it was actually intended to be “dorp.org,” but it was mistyped when the domain name was registered.”Dorp” is Dutch for village and this was intended to be a message board among a group of college friends. Since open source is about collective effort among many people, like many droplets forming an ocean, I think this “mistake” actually worked out pretty well.]

Drupe (pronounced “droop”; rhymes with loop, coop) is a botany word. It classifies fruits known for having a single, woody-shelled seed in the center. Peaches, apricots, plums, mangoes, cherries, and olives are all drupes.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Drew was struggling with why his Drupal code was returning error codes. He decided to take a break. He went to get a soda and some dried drupe fruit mix out of the refrigerator. It was hard to convince himself not to grab a handful of M & M’s instead.

Embracing a high-fiber, lower sugar diet was really hard, but his last checkup showed he was insulin-resistant and on track for developing Type II diabetes. His doctor warned that if he wanted to see his kids graduate high school, he had to make changes now.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Precede vs. Proceed

Precede and proceed 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.

Precede (pronounced “pree-seed”) is a verb. It means to go before something else. This can literally be a person or creature, or it can mean objects or things.

For example, maybe you’ve heard the statement “his reputation precedes him.” Usually this means the person being discussed is admired in their field, reliable, smart.

Another example: In a printed book, the table of contents precedes the text of the book, and the text of the book precedes the index.

Proceed (pronounced “prOH-seed”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb it means:
    • to move forward
    • to begin an activity with granted permission or access (For example, in court the judge tells attorneys to “Proceed…” in submitting evidence, starting questioning, or verbally making their case)
    • to resume an activity after interruption
  • The noun “proceeds” means money raised for often charitable reasons.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Proctor disliked being the youngest child. Two brothers and two sisters had preceded him. They were either respected athletes, or they were pretty good at their schoolwork. So teachers expected him to be an athlete or academian too. He really didn’t like school at all and he wasn’t athletic. How could he stand out?  

He decided he would be a provocateur. He proceeded to play pranks on his teachers, be a clown, or be obnoxious in class discussions.