Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Sealing vs. Ceiling

Sealing and ceiling 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.

Sealing  (pronounced “s-eel-ihng”; rhymes with feeling, wheeling, dealing) has multiple meanings.

  • As the gerund form of the verb “seal.” To seal is to close something permanently, like a letter or important document, or confirm a legally binding transaction is imminent. Sealing indicates something is being closed or fastened in the present moment.
  • In the phrase “sealing the deal,” an agreement is being finalized.
  • As an adjective, it describes products or other things related to sealing.
    • For example, sealing wax was used to seal important letters and documents back when they were handwritten. If a person was someone significant, say, in a government or religious station, they would imprint warm sealing wax with a stamp (sometimes on a ring) that verified the correspondence came from them. Today craft stores sell sealing wax and initialized metal stamps for history buffs to formalize their letters and invitations. Seal stamps or rings can be custom made, or fans can order seals with symbols from their favorite tv shows and movies.
    • In the Scarlet Pimpernel, Sir Blakeney’s seal is a European wildflower, the pimpernel. He and a circle of friends save the lives of French artistocrats destined for the guillotine during the Reign of Terror. [First link is a blog discussing the 1934 movie version of the 1905 book by Baroness Orczy]

Ceiling (pronounced “s-eel-ihng”; rhymes with feeling, wheeling, dealing) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means the overhead surface or confines in a room. This is where chandeliers, chiclets, and other lights are mounted, and where central air ducts are located on newer housing in the US.
  • As an adjective, it describes things used on ceilings. For example, popcorn spray for a textured ceiling surface. Ceiling tiles can have a pressed tin or other appearance for a 1800s historic looking ceiling. Asbestos or Gypsum material tiles in a drop ceiling are used to conceal roof supports, electrical wiring, etc.

“Ceiling” in pop culture:

The following story uses both words correctly:

Celia was sealing envelopes for a campaign fundraiser party when a piece of ceiling tile fell to the floor. It nearly missed her head. Then a few mice tumbled down after it. She shrieked. She jumped up from her desk and ran into the other room. She took a deep breath. “I think I know why the rent was so cheap on this headquarters, Cyrus.”

“Yeah we really lucked out. But why do you mention it?” 

“Because a couple mice nearly fell on my head. Did you not hear me scream?”

“Really?” He could not seem more detached. 

“Do you mind if I seal the envelopes in here? Your office isn’t infested.”

“Well I’m trying to fine tune a speech for our boss, but I guess it’s okay.” 

Advertisements
Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Herald vs. Harold

Herald and Harold 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.

Herald (pronounced “hair-uhld”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it can mean a person, creature, or organization that provides a warning, makes an announcement or proclamation. For example, some newspapers are called a herald, like The Miami Herald. A worldwide list exists here.
    • In Western Europe, since medieval times, cities had a town crier that made official announcements from the government. This person acted as a herald. The public was largely illiterate, so this was how they got their information.
  • As a noun, it can also mean a sign or indicator of an event. For example, singing birds and flowers are heralds of spring. Leaves changing color is a herald of fall.
  • As an adjective, it can describe someone in the role of proclaimer, as in the Christmas carol “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”

Harold (pronounced “hair-uhld”) is a masculine name.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Harold wasn’t ready for summer to be over. But the heralds that it was coming to an end were all around. The vacationers were disappearing. The days were growing shorter. Some trees were already changing color. He needed a jacket for his morning walk. He needed to check out rentals further south as soon as possible.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Odious vs. Odyssey

Odious and odyssey 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.

Odious (pronounced “oh-dee-uhss”) is an adjective. It describes something gross, objectionable, something provoking hate or disgust in others. For example, rotting garbage is odious.

Odyssey (pronounced “odd-ihs-see”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a long journey with travails, hardships, and learning experiences.
  • As a proper noun, The Odyssey is one of two famous poems, attributed to Homer. It is the sequel to The Iliad. It covers Odysseus’ journey home after fighting in the Trojan War.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Odetta was an obsessive clean freak. When she travelled in working class boroughs around the world, she was appalled and revulsed by how odious their city streets were. It was a blend of human and animal pee, cigarette buts, and garbage, and the local people didn’t seem to notice at all. When her odyssey through several countries was done, she was relieved to return to her meticulously clean home.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Ballot vs. Ballet

Ballot and ballet are easily confused words. Both words start with “b-a-l-l,” but neither is pronounced like “ball,” the spheres used to play sports and games.

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.

Ballot (“bal-uht”; rhymes with mallet, pallet, UK pronunciation of “valet”) is a noun. It means the paper medium used to vote for government officials and similar posts in organizations. It’s also used to vote for new laws, policies, o amendments to legal documents.

In the last 50 years, some countries have gone to touchscreen computers or other interfaces to make ballot counting easier and save on paper printing costs. However, computerized voting is easier to tamper with, especially when the security for voting computers is not maintained, or barely implemented to start with.

Ballet (pronounced “bal-ehh”; rhymes with Calais, US pronunciation of valet) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it can mean a style of dance famous for its satin-laced toe shoes, tutus, and leotards.
  • As a noun, it can mean a company of ballet dancers, i.e., The National Ballet, New York City Ballet.
  • As a noun, it can mean a music score designed for a ballet dance. The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky is a famous ballet. This score is often played at Christmastime, especially the portion called the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
  • As an adjective, it can describe items related to or used for the dance: ballet shoes, ballet tutu, ballet leotard, ballet tights.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Ballencia Bahira, a prominent member of Balsam City, was asked to endorse the Prudent party candidate on this year’s ballot. She told his campaign she would think about it. That same week, she learned from a friend that at a private donors speaking event, he said he would cancel all arts funding for the community’s children. Her decision was made.

She came out publicly and said, ” I can’t support a candidate that doesn’t support ballet, music, and visual arts exposure for our kids. I am backing his opponent in the Abundance party.”

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Canberra vs. Cranberry

Canberra and cranberry 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.

Canberra (pronounced AUS: “keen-buhr-uh”/US & outsiders: “can-burr-uh”) is a proper noun. It is a city in southeastern Australia. It is the capital of Australia, which may surprise some outsiders. Check out their website here.

Cranberry (“kran-bear-ee”) a red-skinned acidic berry that is native to the northeastern US. It is grown in its native territory, and in the upper Midwest. Cranberries are famous for their tart, lipsmacking flavor when eaten raw. Once cooked with sugar or dried, their sweetness shines through. They are high in antioxidants and help fight off UTIs.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Candace owned a vineyard in Canberra. To add more diversity to the property and to the wines, she wanted to add plots of berries to add to a new line of wines. She wanted to start with blueberries, cranberries, and elderberries.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Sous vs. Sue

Sous and sue 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.

Sous (pronounced “sooh”; rhymes with do, few, goo, boo) is a French word used in the food industry. It means assistant or subordinate. The sous chef works underneath the head chef. Depending on the size of restaurant, the sous chef may be doing a lot of hands on work, or supervising the people doing that work. Here’s a Youtube film of a day in the life of sous chef Shawn Schneider.

Sue (pronounced “sooh”; rhymes with due, imbue, clue, cue) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to seek monetary or other damages from a defendant in court.
  • As a female name, it can be short for “Susan,” “Susannah,” “Suzanne,” or “Suzette”
  • As a verb, it can also mean to charm and seek to date a person, but I can’t say I’ve heard this usage.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Sue Sousehaus, former sous chef, was going to sue her employer for wrongful termination.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Sioux vs. Sous

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Pistachio vs. Pastiche

Pistachio and pastiche 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.

Pistachio (pronounced “pih-stash-ee-oh” rhymes with mustachioed) is a noun.

  • It is a type of nut known for its light green color. Pistachios can help control blood sugar.
  • It is a flavor of ice cream based on the nut flavor.

Pastiche (pronounced “pah-steesh”; “pa-steesh”) is a noun. It is an art term from French.

  • It refers to a work of art, music or other creation that draws from multiple sources.
  • More generally, it means a hodge-podge or motley assortment of things.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Patsy had asked her brother Puck to pack some trail mix for their Saturday hike. He waited until the last minute to do so. He created a pastiche of back of the pantry ingredients at 6 that morning, and dumped it into a couple of plastic zipper bags.

Hours later, at noon, Patsy reached for the mix. She tasted a funky bitterness. Her tongue felt what could only be a furry…raisin?! She spat it out. Whatever it was, it was moldy. “Oh my god what the hell did you make this with?!” There wasn’t enough water in her canteen to rinse her mouth. “Dude you are never making food for our excursions again! Where’s a towel, a napkin, a shirt, I don’t care. I have to wipe my tongue off.”

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Pastitsio v. Pastiche