Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Insolvent vs. Insolent

Insolvent and insolent 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.

Insolent (pronounced “ihn-suh-lihnt”) is an adjective. It means being extremely rude and disrespectful, especially to authority figures. This word is similar to impertinent.

Insolvent (pronounced “ihn-sawl-vihnt”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, in finance, it describes an account that can’t pay its bills or make payments on its debts.
  • As a noun, it means the state of having insufficient funds for debts owed.

The following story uses both words correctly:

” I don’t understand. I was just getting comfortable and making friends here. Now you’re telling me we have to move again?! Why?!”

Inez was having another fight with her mother. Her mother said she was being insolent and needed to cool off in her room. 

“Better enjoy it while I can, huh, Mom?” she stormed upstairs. Her little brother heard their voices and looked up, but then returned his attention to his Legos.

Isabella sank into the chair at the counter. Her daughter was partly right, it wasn’t fair to have to keep moving. But the big contract at her husband’s work was gone. He had confided that layoffs of most of the staff, including him, were imminent. They had to put their house on the market as soon as possible to sell quickly. They had to avoid becoming insolvent with the house or any of their debts because it would mar their credit.  That would only make it harder to find new work. 

 

 

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Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Humidor vs. Humidifier

Humidor and humidifier 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.

Humidor (pronounced US: “hue-mih-door”) is an a room or a box to preserve cigars and other rolled tobacco products with just the right amount of moisture.

Humidifier (pronounced “hue-mih-dih-fire”) is a machine used to add water vapor to the air in a house with little to no humidity.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Humfrida was disappointed the humidifier is her apartment was not working. She went down the street to peruse the humidor at the pub and enjoy a beer. 

 

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Synthetic vs. Sympathetic

Synthetic and sympathetic are easily confused words.

Synthetic (pronounced “sihn-theh-tihck”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, it can describe something manmade as opposed to something naturally occurring.
  • As an adjective, it can describe something as artificial, fake, or phony.
  • As an adjective, it can describe something created by synthesis.
  • As a noun, it can mean products made by synthetic means, or businesses and industries that make synthetic goods.

Sympathetic (pronounced “sihm-puh-theh-tick”) is an adjective. It describes someone who feels compassion for others’ pain and suffering, or for a cause.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Synthetics industries wished Governor Synthia Syrus was more sympathetic to their desires for less regulations. But she stood firm on her standards for environmental protection and workers rights. 

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Kooky vs. Cookie

Kook and cook are easily confused words. They are also homophones, meaning words that sound alike, 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.

Kooky (pronounced “koo-key”) is an adjective. It describes something the speaker finds odd, weird, or crazy.

Cookie (pronounced “cook-ee”; rhymes hooky, bookie) is a noun with multiple meanings.

  • In food, it means a sweet tasting, circular baked good with ingredients like flour, eggs, vanilla, sugar (white, brown, or both), baking soda or powder, and salt. It may feature nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, or candy pieces.
  • On the internet, a cookie is a token that a website leaves on your computer. It contains information an ID badge that you use to get into buildings in the real world, but instead it’s about you and your preferences when surfing the web and visiting your favorite sites. Learn more about them here.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Cooper was partnered with KuKu in a cookie baking contest. Kuku was vegan and worked with unconventional ingredients that Cooper found a little kooky. He had doubts about how well all these odd things would taste together. What was carob? But as it turned out they came in second place, and he made a new friend.

 

*=If you’re Sesame Street character Cookie Monster, you pronounce these words identically as “koo-key.”

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Erie vs. Eerie

Erie and eerie 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.

Erie (pronounced “ear-ee”) is a proper noun.

  • It means one of the Great Lakes that is framed by states New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and provinces in southern Canada.
  • It means a city in Pennsylvania on the coast of Lake Erie.

Eerie (pronounced “ear-ee”) is an adjective. It describes something scary, disturbing, or instilling fear.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Eero was having second thoughts about a fixer upper he bought in Erie, Pennsylvania. When he walked through it, every floorboard and door creaked. It gave him an eerie feeling. When he grabbed some lunch, he overheard locals at the diner talking about it being haunted. They couldn’t believe someone bought the old place.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Bitter vs. Bittern

Bitter and bittern 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.

Bitter (pronounced “bih-tuhrr”) has multiple meanings.

As a noun:

  • It means a sharp flavor that is not sour, but not necessarily appealing to the tongue. Sometimes adult-size chewable tablets are bitter.
  • In a more figurative sense, to be bitter means to maintain anger over something that happened, long after it happened.
  • The plural form, bitters, means an additive used in cocktails.

As an adjective, describes situations that were hurtful or unpleasant for one or both parties.

Bittern (pronounced “bih-tuhrrn”) is a noun. It means a small, short-necked member of the heron family. Like herons, they stand still in fresh water and make quick attacks on their prey.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Bithia drank her tea outside in the cold and smoked a cigarette. It had been five months, but she was still bitter about her perfect relationship breaking up. Her ex was already engaged to someone else. 

A sedge of bitterns landed on the marsh in front of her. They were here to spend the winter. It made her realize that she needed to go elsewhere too. Where would she go so she didn’t have to hear about their perfect Christmastime wedding, or accidentally run into the happy couple?

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Trope vs. Troop

Trope and troop 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.

Trope (pronounced “troh-p”; rhymes with pope, rope) is a noun.

  • In literature, it means devices where words don’t literally mean what they say, they are used figuratively or symbolically. For example, a metaphor is a type of trope.
  • In movies and literature, it means overused story devices: behavioral cliches by characters, stereotypical supporting characters, tired plots. Here’s one list of contemporary tropes in books and movies.

Troop has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a group in the military; the police; in Boy/Girl Scouts; a large crowd of people. It can also mean a group of animals, especially kangaroos.
  • As a verb, it means to form this type of grouping.
  • As a verb, it can mean to walk as a group or in formation.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Tuppence wanted to write a story about a scout troop, but wanted to be careful to avoid any tropes found in girls’ coming of age books.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Troupe vs. Troop