Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Anonymity vs. Anemone

Anonymity and anemone 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.

Anonymity (pronounced “ann-awn-ihm-it-tee”) is a noun. It means the state of being unknown, or remaining unidentified.

For example:

  • Whistleblowers and witnesses to a crime might initially seek anonymity when reporting a crime or a problem. This is to avoid backlash, harassment, and retaliation by the accused or their allies.
  • Social media websites initially allowed commenters to have anonymity when posting comments. Unfortunately, in practice, this feature enabled harassment and obnoxious behavior by people who couldn’t be held accountable. Sites have learned the hard way that users must create an account, and must log in, in order to make a comment. If a user behaves problematically, their account can be disabled.

Anemone (pronounced “uh-nih-muh-nee”) is a noun.

  • On land, it can mean a flowering plant in the buttercup family. Anemones have oval-shaped petals in a variety of colors. The centers of the flowers are either green and yellow, or black.
  • In the ocean, it means a stationary aquatic creature. It eats by stinging prey with cells in its finger-like tentacles. It uses the tentacles to pull their victim’s paralyzed body into the mouth. Check out a video here.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Andriel replanted 1000 anemones in the center of town after the initial planting by the local garden club was destroyed by an overnight reckless driver. It was thought someone would have witnessed the crime, but the culprit was able to maintain their anonymity for many years. The town installed speed bumps and hidden cameras.

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Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Quell vs. Quill

Quell and quill 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.

Quell (pronounced “kwell”) is a verb. It means to end, or put a stop to, something. In dealing with humans, it means to soothe or console another person’s negative emotions.

Quill (pronounced “kwihll”)

As a noun:

  • a bird’s feather
  • a spiny hair from a hedgehog or porcupine
  • a spine from a cactus

It can also refer to things that were once made from these objects, or a hollow tube resembling these objects, for instance:

  • In writing, an ink pen with a feather on it.
  • In weaving and sewing: a bobbin, or a spool for thread or fibers. These tools keep the fibers or thread from becoming tangled during use, and for storing these items when not in use.
  • A toothpick
  • In music:
    • A plucking instrument for playing the harp
    • A pipe played by breathing into it, and/or holding one’s fingers over particular holes to alternate sounds
  • In machinery, metal tube housing a slightly small tube.
  • A related word, quilling, is a craft involving multiple colors of rolled paper glued together.

As a verb:

  • Doing activities related to the paper craft of quilling.
  • Winding thread, yarn, or fibers onto a quill.
  • to get pricked or stuck by quills

The following story uses both words correctly:

Quenlyn was quilling at the kitchen table when she could hear screaming from the bedroom. Her baby brother, Quinn, was bawling was teething pain again. She quelled his cries with a frozen pacifier.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Macaque vs. Macabre

Macaque and macabre 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.

Macaque (pronouced “muh-kak”) is a noun. It means an Old World monkey with 23 different species. They inhabit Gibraltar, Asia, and North Africa. [New World monkeys inhabit Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.]

Macabre (pronounced “muh-kawb”) is an adjective. It describes things that are gloomy, ghastly, and foreboding. For example: Halloween, celebrated October 31, is a holiday devoted to the macabre.

The following story uses both words correctly:

After some urging by their adult children to get out more and be adventurous, Macklin and McKenzie vacationed in Gibraltar for their anniversary. It was fun, in spite of a few mishaps. First, their luggage was misplaced by the airline. Then they lost their sun hats to mischevous macaques. Last, an inattentive ghost tour guide abandoned them in a haunted church for several hours. This last experience was a little too macabre and spooky for their liking. 

Upon their return, Macklin said, “It’s good to be home. I think that’s enough excitement for the next two years.”

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Adenoids vs. Adrenals

Adenoids and adrenals are easily confused words.

Adenoids (pronounced “add-ihn-oydz”) are a noun, they are part the human body. These are lymph glands that are positioned at the back of the nasal area. They are more pronounced in size in babies, and this tissue recedes into adulthood. The adenoids’ job is to trap germs with surface hairs, coated in mucus, and flush them out of the body.

Sometimes adenoids are enlarged. If they block the ears’ Eustachian tubes or the back of the nasal passages, and they have to be removed. Check out this video to see where these glands are.

Adrenals (pronounced “uh-dree-nuhlz”) are a pair of glands in the body. One rests atop each kidney. The adrenal glands’ job is to produce and release epinephrine and norepinephrine, which are released in our bodies’ response to stress.

Check out this video, fast forward to the 5:41 mark to hear about the adrenal glands.

TRIVIA: Synthetically, epinephrine is produced for “epi-pens.” These devices stop extreme allergic reactions in people who had an unexpected encounter with their allergens (i.e., bee stings, peanuts, etc.)

The following story uses both words correctly:

Addison was exhausted and sleeping poorly. But as a first-time mom, everything going on with little Adeline was a surprising, and sometimes shocking, learning experience.

Adeline was a noisy sleeper. It seemed like she had trouble breathing. Fearing SIDS or something like it could happen, Addison’s adrenals kicked in and she headed to the hospital. She was on pins and needles waiting to hear what the problem was. After an hour that felt like three, the doctor emerged from the ward.

“Hi, Ms. Johnson? We went ahead and removed Adeline’s adrenal glands, they were interfering with her breathing.” He patted her shoulder. “You made a good call, mom.”

 

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Erudite vs. Eroded

Erudite and eroded 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.

Erudite (pronounced “err-yoo-dite”) is an adjective. It describes someone or something that is very knowledgeable, academic, or scholarly.

Eroded (pronounced “ee-roh-dihd”) has multiple meanings.

  • As the past tense of the verb “erode,” it indicates something eaten or washed away. For example, when soil washes away, it uprooting plants and destroys foundations of structures. In the figurative sense, it means support or substance has dwindled or disappeared.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Eric was enthusiastic about competing in the academic bowl. He and his teammates competed against erudite students from both public and esteemed private schools. The final championship was coming up soon.

For weeks, after every win, he’d been asked the same question by teachers, parents, and student journalists:

“Do you really think you can beat Evander? They’ve won three years in a row.”

“Yes.” The frequency of this question wasn’t daunting. The tone and its implied skepticism never eroded his confidence in himself or his teammates. They were very intelligent, and they knew they entered this competition as often underestimated underdogs.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Chambray vs. Chamois

Chambray and chamois 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.

Chambray (pronounced “sham-bray”) is a noun.

  • It is a fabric created from dark blue fabric threads with occasional white threads woven into it.
  • It can also mean any buttoned front shirt that’s the color of blue jeans, from pale stonewashed blue to deep indigo.
  • Denim and chambray are where the phrase “blue collar” job comes from, though blue shirts are worn in all kinds of professions.
    • A blue collar job is stereotypically working with one’s hands, possibly getting dirty and/or sweaty, and doesn’t require a four year college education. White collar jobs stereotypically involve working in an office, wearing dress clothes, and do require a college education. A lot of these stereotypes no longer apply.  White collar jobs have lost some prestige, and spending hours at a desk has proven to be extremely unhealthy and stressful. Blue collar jobs

Chamois (pronounced FR:”sham-wah;” US: “sham-wah;” slang, “shammy”) is a noun. It is a very soft fabric originally made from European goat hide and brushed with oil. Today cotton and synthetic materials are made to imitate this texture.

  • This fabric used to make button-down shirts, mainly for fall and winter.
  • This fabric is also good for polishing and buffing leather and glossy surfaces after a wax or polish has been applied to them. Any very soft, short-haired cleaning cloth might be called a “Chammy,” or a derivative of this word.

The following story uses both words correctly:

On a clear winter day, Charla put on a chambray jumpsuit to work on her car. First she changed the oil and the fluids. Next she cleaned the outside, applying wax, and using a chamois cloth to buff it off and create a brilliant shine. After all this effort, it would look and run like she just drove it off the lot. No one she worked with seemed to care about their car like she did.

She hadn’t realized how long the whole process was taking. It was already dusk when she finished. It was a good thing dinner was in the slow cooker and almost done, because she was too tired to cook anything fancy at this point.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Idiot vs. Idiom

Idiot and idiom 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.

Idiot (pronounced “iddy-uht”) is a noun. It is an insult meaning a stupid or foolish person.

Idiom (pronounced “iddy-uhm”) is a noun. It is a common phrase that is not meant to be taken literally, but often describes an emotional condition or other unseen thing.

  • On pins and needles: a person is on edge, very nervous. A person might feel this way waiting to get accepted to college, waiting to get hired for a job, waiting to get approved for a loan.
  • See the light: a person has just realized something important or clarifying about their current circumstances. This implies that they had been wrong or deluded prior to this moment.
  • Check out more idiom meanings here.
  • Other languages also have idioms, some were explored in the book “I’m Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears,” released in 2009.
  • TRIVIA: Drax the Destroyer in the Guardians of the Galaxy did not understand phrases that could not be taken literally, like metaphors, similes, and idioms.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Twins Idi and Idal couldn’t be more different. Idal was a talented athlete, while Idi was a reader and more of a “mathlete.”

“You’re late for dinner!” his mother said.

“Man, practice ran late and I still have a paper to write for a book I’ve only half-read. I am going to have to burn the midnight oil to get it done.”

“What does oil have to do with anything? Why do you talk in such illogical phrases?”

It’s just an saying, Idi; it’s just an idiom.”

“You sound like an idiot.”

“It’s idiom.”

“I know what you said, I’m just saying its foolish. Just say what you mean.”

Their mother chided them both, “Idi, please stop giving your brother a hard time. And Idal, I am disappointed in you procrastinating on your schoolwork. That’s not a good habit to have.”

“Yeah, you’re really throwing me off schedule, Idal. We’re supposed to eat at 6:30. It’s now 7:30 and we’re just now eating.” 

“Idi, give it a rest.”