Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Garbage vs. Garage

Garbage and garage 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.

Garbage (pronounced “garr-bihj”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means waste or trash collected in a bin and wheeled to the curb for collection once a week.
  • As a noun, it means the bin that discarded items are collected in.
  • As an adjective, it describes something unneeded, or of little value.

Garage (pronounced US:”guh-rahj” rhymes with “barrage”/UK: “gare-ihj”; rhymes with “carriage”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means an enclosed room with a raising door designed for storing an automobile or other vehicle. In some American homes, some garages become storage areas, workshops, or are converted into a sitting room.
  • As an adjective, as in the phrase “garage rock,” a style of rock music known for prominent use of raucous electric guitars. It was a precursor to punk. It rose to prominence in the West in the mid-1960s, and had a resurgence in the 2000s. At this link, Paste Magazine lists the 50 best garage rock songs. The Kinks, the Troggs, the Strokes, and the White Stripes are just a few examples of bands making music in this style.
  • As a proper noun, Garage Band is a music software application on MacIntosh computers.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Twins Gary and Gabby really annoyed their parents’ neighbors when they started a garage rock band called the Gargoyles. A familiar refrain became, “Can you tell the kids to turn that garbage down?” But they weren’t deterred, and a few friends joined the project.

Even after putting sound proofing inside the walls, people could hear the band practice and didn’t like it, so they ended up moving to their school or playing at the park for tips. They quickly got an offer to play at the local fair. Their sound wasn’t as annoying as the neighbors had indicated. It was actually pretty catchy to a lot of people.


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