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.”