Hoodoo and whodunit 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.
Hoodoo (pronounced “hoo-doo”/”hew-dew”) has multiple meanings.
- As a noun, it can mean someone possessed with voodoo or supernatural powers.
- In geology, it means a rock formation that resembles a tower or spire of rock. Hoodoos are evidence of extreme erosion.
- In the continental US, you can see hoodoos in these places:
- Bryce Canyon in Utah
- Goblin Valley State Park, Utah
- Badlands National Park, South Dakota
- Little Missouri Badlands: Theodore Roosevelt National Park & Surroundings, North Dakota
- Hell’s Half Acre: Wind River Basin, Wyoming
- Adobe Town and the Honeycomb Buttes: Red Desert, Wyoming
- Outside the US:
- Drumheller Valley, Alberta, Canada
- Devil’s Town (Davolja Varos), Serbia, Europe
- Cavusin, Cappadocia, Turkey, Asia
- Awa Sand Pillars, Tokushima prefecture, Japan
- Alpes de Haute-Provence, Provence, France, Europe
- Wanli, Taiwan, Asia
Whodunit (pronounced “who-duhn-iht”) is a noun. It is a slang, run-together word made from the phrase “who did it?” or the grammatically incorrect “who done it?” It is a catchphrase for detective and mystery novels. Usually the plot involves a murder or series of murders, and the quest to find the killer. This type of story has translated well to movies and television.
In the UK, it’s “whodunnit” with two n’s.
The following story uses both words correctly:
While staring at a sunset over the hoodoos in Utah, Hoover realized something. He wanted to write whodunnit novel. As a park ranger, he was an unlikely source for stories about detective work in the big city. But it was just something he felt he had to do.