Easily Confused Words: Breadth vs. Bread

Breadth and bread 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.

Breadth (pronounced “brehd-th”) is an adjective. It describes a dense amount of something, a high quantity of something, or a wide scope of a subject matter.

Bread (pronounced “brehd”) has multiple meanings.

As a noun:

  • It can mean a baked good made from flour, salt and water. Other ingredients may be included, like a leavener (i.e., baking soda, yeast). There may also be spices, herbs, vegetables, fruit, etc. It depends upon the recipe and what meal the bread is used for. In the US, fruit breads are breakfast, dessert, snack, and holiday fare. Vegetable, leavened, and unleavened bread are meal or side dishes for meals.
  • In mid-20th century slang, it has meant money. Dough is used similarly.
  • As a proper noun, it means a US mellow rock band from the 1970s.

As a verb:

  • It means to coat a piece of raw meat or vegetables in a wet layer of batter, then a dry layer of breadcrumbs or flour. For example:
    • is how fried chicken and country fried steak are prepared before frying in a pan or a vat of hot oil.
    • It is also how the eggplant is prepared for Eggplant (aka, aubergine) Parmesan.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Briony was writing about the history of fried foods around the world. She wanted to cover the full breadth of the topic as no one had dared to before. Lately, she was researching alternative flours used in breading meat or vegetables. She traveled to other continents to learn about these techniques firsthand. Next up was Brazil, which used manioc, coconut, and tapioca.

Easily Confused Words: Prospect vs. Prosthetic

Prospect and prosthetic 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.

Prospect (pronounced “praw-speckt”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a business lead, an opportunity, or a whole field of opportunity for work.
  • As a verb, it means to go in search of gold or another mined or drilled resource, including oil, silver, natural gas, copper, etc.

Prosthetic (pronounced “prawss-thet-ick”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, it describes an artificial or manmade body part that is used by persons with disabilities, persons with debilitating illness, limbs lost in war (or terrorist events), or congenital disfigurement.

For example: in the news, Adrianne Haslet-Davis was a survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. She participated in the 2016 race with a prosthetic leg.

  • As a noun, it is a general or collective reference to artificial body parts. For example, the field of prosthetics is including more robotics today than 30 years ago.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Proctor was feeling a lot better about his prospects for careers and a new life after getting two prosthetic legs. After he first returned home from the warfront, he had felt life was over and he hated needing so much help for what seemed like the first time in his life.

 

Easily Confused Words: Top vs. Taupe

Top and taupe 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.

Top (pronounced “tawp”; rhymes with pop, cop, stop, crop, hop, mop) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to best, to win in competition or in comparison, with someone or something else.
  • As a noun:
    • it can mean a lid or cap for closing a container, box, or other object. For example, “I can’t put this leftover food away until I find the top for this container.”
    • it can mean a toy that balances and spins on one of its pointed ends. A top figured prominently in the movie “Inception.”
    • it can mean a slang term for any piece of clothing worn on the torso, or the top half of the body: t-shirts, buttoned shirts, blouses, henleys, polos, rugbys, etc.

Taupe (pronounced “tohp”; rhymes with hope, cope, lope, soap, pope, dope) is a noun. It means a muted brown color that is muddy and cool-toned. It’s hexadecimal code (online color code in HTML) is 483c32.

Taupe is used in clothing, upholstery, sporting goods, and accessories. It is a neutral, a color that isn’t difficult to match with any other color. Other neutrals include white, black, navy, and other shades of brown. It’s also a good color for military fatigues and hunting gear, when camouflage is important.

It comes from the French language, and originally meant “mole,” as in the underground-dwelling rodent.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Tawny volunteered to be in a charity fashion show. She was devastated to learn that the only ball gown left to model was a two piece dress in less than desirable colors: the top was black, and the bottom, a fishtail skirt, was an odd bronzy taupe color with leopard spots. But she said she would participate, so she would have to make it work.

Easily Confused Words: Several vs. Severely

Several and severely 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.

Several (pronounced “sehv-uh-ruhll”; rhymes with ephemeral) is an adjective. It describes an amount or distinctive quality.

  • It can mean things in a number greater than a couple but less than many, or a multitude that isn’t easily counted.
  • It can mean separate and distinct events or occurrences.

Severely (pronounced “suh-veer-lee”) is an adverb, this means it typically modifies a verb. This word indicates intensity or a high amount. For example, if you read crime news or mysteries, a victim may be “severely beaten.”

The following story uses both words correctly:

Sevyn snuck several cookies from the jar at the family bodega and bakery. A neighborhood child was loitering near the jar and when Sevyn’s mother noticed the depleted supply, she was quick to accuse the child. The child started crying in embarrassment, and only got more frightened by an interrogation by a local policewoman who happened to be in the store. Sevyn’s mother pulled up the surveillance footage and saw that Sevyn, working as cashier, was actually the culprit. She had said nothing during the whole ordeal. Her parents dropped the charges, apologized to the child’s parents, and let the child go home. 

“Sevyn, why didn’t you speak up? This really makes our business look bad in the community. I can’t let this go; you are being severely punished. You’re losing your phone privileges.”

“But Mom…”

“Don’t call me Mom at your work, and I’m not finished. She paused. “Maybe you need to work somewhere else where you don’t feel so at ease. It’s not at all professional.”

 

Easily Confused Words: Roman à Clef vs. Treble Clef

Roman à clef and treble clef 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.

Roman à Clef (pronounced “roh-muhn uh klehff”) is a literary term that comes from French. It describes a work of fiction this is based on actual events between real people, but the names have been changed. The literal French translation means “novel with a key.”

Examples of recent roman à clef books include Weisenberger’s The Devil Wears Prada, Joe Klein’s Primary Colors, and Kerouac’s On the Road.

Treble Clef (pronounced “treh-buhl klehf”) is a noun. It is a musical notation symbol 🎼 that might remind you of an ampersand or number 8 on first look. It is the first symbol featured on a musical staff (a set of four parallel bars.) The treble clef is important because the curl tells you what note is featured on that line, so you can figure out from there where the other notes fall on the staff. Check out this website to learn more.

Gift items for musicians often come in treble clef designs or decorations: jewelry accessories, wall sculpture, tabletop sculpture, paperweights, tees, etc.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Treymond was composing a new jingle for work and had hit a creative block. He was tracing the curves of the treble clef on his notation pad, waiting for inspiration to strike, when the phone buzzed with a text message. Tereze, an old friend, was excited about a new roman à clef novel that was about attending Julliard in the early 2000s. Both she and Treymond had attended at that time. The author had used a pen name, and as yet, their true identity had not been revealed to the public.

“It’s hard to put this down. I think I knew this person, and if so, you might have dated her once, Trey.”

“Well I hope it’s not Rory, Tereze.” 

 

Easily Confused Words: Oleaginous vs. Oligarchy

Oleaginous and oligarchy 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.

Oleaginous (pronounced “oh-lee-aj-ihn-uhss”) is an adjective.

  • It describes something that produces oil or includes oil.
  • It describes something greasy to the touch, or appearing greasy or oily.
  • It can also be used figuratively to describe someone or something that is dirty, dishonest, or sneaky to deal with, like the stereotype of used car salesman or some politicians.

Oligarchy (pronounced “all-ih-garr-key”) is a noun. It means a political system where a small (non-military) group runs everything, it’s government by the few. Since the 1990s, this system of government has been spreading throughout the world. [Plutocracy is government by the wealthy.]

The following story uses both words correctly:

Oliver wasn’t sure who to vote for. Candidate 1 spoke eloquently and seemed to have some good ideas, but he had an unfortunate oleaginous, disheveled appearance in public. Candidate 2 was far more polished, but he was light on the details of what he would actually do. He used a lot of positive, feel-good language that gave many people a false sense of assurance. Most disturbing, however, were how many friends he had among the dictators and leaders of oligarchies around the world. He seemed to admire them and want to imitate them. This was inexcusable for Oliver, so he ultimately voted for the other candidate.

Easily Confused Words: Eyelet vs. Iolite

Eyelet and Iolite are easily confused words.

Eyelet (pronounced “eye-lit”) is a noun.

  • It can mean a hole in fabric that, along with similar holes, creates a “lace” effect.
  • It can mean the fabric that features embroidery, embroidered decorative holes, and scalloped edges. Eyelet is made from cotton or other lightweight fabric and typically worn in warmer seasons of spring and summer. It is also used for curtains and bedspreads.
  • It can be another word for a grommet or other round opening.

Iolite (“eye-oh-lite”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a gray to deep bluish-purple gemstone. Also called Cordierite, it is a stone composed of magnesium, iron, and aluminum cyclosilicate. It is cheaper than other stones in this color family, like sapphire and tanzanite.
  • As an adjective, it can describes things in a deep lavender-blue shade, like flowers, clothes, or a person’s eye color.

The following story uses both words correctly:

After taking pictures of her cousin’s toddler, Ainsley, Eileen realized her calling in photography. All the shots of the girl in her eyelet dress, with her iolite eye color echoed in a sea of bluebonnets, were turning out beautifully. 

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Aglets vs. Eyelets.

 

Easily Confused Words: Pilloried vs. Pillar

Pilloried and pillar 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.

Pilloried (pronounced “pihl-uhr-eed”) is the past tense of the verb pillory. Pillory means to subject to ridicule and embarrassment. So “pilloried” indicates someone was treated this way sometime in the past. For example, it happens daily on Twitter.

This verb comes from the related noun, pillory.  This means a wooden frame that encircles a prisoners neck and wrists. This structure was in the town square or other public place so that the townsfolk could see them as a criminal and ripe for mocking or ridicule.

Pillories aren’t used in modern times, but  sometimes they can be seen in fictional or historical films, or settings like Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Some historic sites keep one outdoors for photo opportunities.

Pillar (pronounced “pihll-uhr”; rhymes with filler, killer, miller) is a noun with multiple meanings.

  • It can mean a vertical supporting column (or post) for a building or other structure.
  • It can mean a vertical thing that resembles a column or post in its tall or rising quality, for example a pillar of smoke.
  • In a more figurative sense, it can refer to a key idea or theme.
    • For example, Islam is said to have five pillars. These are acts that are central to practicing that religion. In English, they are faith, prayer, fasting, charity, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca. Learn more here.
    • Another example: a community leader in religion, social justice, or politics is described as a pillar of their community.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Pili aimed to run for mayor. A pillar in his community, he owned restaurants and groceries for years. Now he was in his fifties. He hadn’t planned on a career in politics, but corruption and seeing rotting infrastructure changed that. It was as if his adopted country had lost its way and forgotten who it was. 

He shared his plans with his family. His son, a thirtysomething attorney, told him, “Dad I believe in you I can help run the campaign. It is going to be hard. So many people who enter public life aren’t prepared for being pilloried in the press and their opponents. They aren’t like a dissatisfied customer, there’s no making them happy until you drop out.”

“I appreciate your help, Son.”

Easily Confused Words: Pileated vs. Pilates

Pileated and pilates 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.

Pileated (pronounced “pie-lee-A-tihd”) is an adjective. It means crested. It is used to describe bird species who have a mohawk-looking arrangement of feathers on top of their head. The most famous pileated bird is a large species of woodpecker. Click the link to see a picture. This species is native to North America. Woodpeckers hammer bugs out of the trunks of trees, making a loud tapping sound as they go.

Pilates (pronounced “pih-lah-tees”) is a proper noun. It is a fitness regimen named for its creator. It has its own equipment for performing stretching and low-intensity exercises. It has been a trendy in the fitness world since the 2000s.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Pili was enjoying tai chi and yoga session outside on a spring day in the park when a pileated woodpecker flew overhead. It was a magical moment. No one had seen one in years, everyone had assumed they were extinct.

Easily Confused Words: Calendar vs. Colander

Calendar and colander 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.

Calendar (pronounced “kal-ihn-durr”; UK: “kal-ihn-dah”) is a noun.

  • It can mean a book of the 12 months laid out on a grid. It is printed on paper. Calendars have been used for tracking appointments, sporting events, birthdays, anniversaries. If the user looks at them or flips through them, he/she is reminded of upcoming holidays or deadlines, and avoids scheduling themselves for conflicting obligations.
  • Computer software and operating includes a calendar app for doing the same day and time tracking that printed calendars fulfill, but on a screen. The added bonus of is that a computer app reminds the user of what’s coming up if he/she wishes instead of the user stopping his/her actions to review his/her schedule.

Colander (pronounced “kawl-ihn-duhrr”; rhymes with surname Hollander) is a noun. It is a cooking and kitchen term. A colander is a bowl with evenly spaced holes in it. It is a separating tool used to drain pasta, and wash fruit and vegetables. It is placed in the sink and a pot is poured into it. The desired contents remain in the colander while the water drains away. For people who wish to keep their cooking water, a larger bowl can simply be placed beneath the colander to catch that liquid.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Colson’s countertops were cluttered with work papers. He was trying to use his kitchen as a home office. This plan was working brilliantly until he was making dinner one night when he was making spaghetti. The colander for catching the noodles slipped, and water went everywhere. A lot of his papers got wet, including his appointment calendar. All those entries, handwritten in fountain pen no less, oozed into a black drippy mess that fell onto ruined dinner in nasty sink.

“ARRRGH!” He dropped all the cookware in the sink in defeat.

He turned to his cat, Samson, sitting calmly on another counter, silently witnessing the whole spectacle.

“That’s it, Samson, I have to get a real workstation and put in the living room. I have to try to remember who all these appointments were with. Maybe get ballpoint pens. But first, let’s order takeout. Does Chinese sound good?”

Samson mewed approvingly.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Calendar vs. Calendula