Easily Confused Words: Attach vs. Attack

Attach and attack 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.

Attach (pronounced “uh-tatchh”; rhymes with latch, patch) has multiple meanings.

As a verb:

  • It mean to adhere or stick to a surface, or to adhere or stick something else to a surface.
  • It can mean a person becoming emotionally bonded or affectionate toward someone else.

Attack (pronounced “uh-tack”) has multiple meanings.

As a verb:

  • It means launching an assault as an army or military.
  • It can mean to commit an act of violence against a person or persons.

As a noun, it means the event of an attack. For example:

  • Pearl Harbor (in the US State of Hawaii) was under attack by Japan on December 7, 1941.
  • Four years later, in August 1945, two major cities in Japan, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were under attack by the US when it dropped one nuclear bomb at each site.
  • England was repeatedly under attack by German bombs from the air from the late 1930s-early 1940s.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Throughout his military training, Adderberry had learned to be emotionally and mentally ready to be attacked by the enemy. What he hadn’t anticipated was being betrayed by a spy in his own company. Through boot camp, all the men had grown attached to each other. They were like siblings, and they went through all kinds of hell together, which further cemented their bond.

So it was bewildering and unthinkable to realize that they were being ambushed and it was one of their own that had given away important information that compromised their mission. How could Rayburn have changed, and why didn’t he see it happening?

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Attaché vs. Attack.

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