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) is 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 in imminent.
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: popcorn spray for a textured ceiling surface. Ceiling tiles can have a pressed tin or other appearance for a historic looking ceiling. Asbestos or Gypsum material tiles in a drop ceiling are used to conceal roof supports, electrical wiring, etc.
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.”