Easily Confused Words: Vest vs. Vista

Vest and vista 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.

Vest (pronounced “vest;” rhymes with best, guest, test, rest, west) has multiple meanings.

  • It means a waistcoat that buttons in front and has no sleeves.
  • In woven tops, it can mean a sleeveless sweater: “sweater vest” worn by itself or over a buttoned shirt.

As a verb:

  • It can mean to put money towards an effort, a project
  • It can mean to assign responsibility or duties to someone
  • It can mean to dress someone, especially a member of clergy
  • It can mean to assign job benefits to an employee

Vista (pronounced “vih-stuh”) is a noun.

  • It can mean a view or prospect. Waterfalls, canyons, and mountaintops offer incredible vistas from their summits. Sometimes there also vistas along the sidelines on the way to the top. Driving through mountainous areas, there are occasional roadside vistas for walking, stretching, and taking photos.
  • It can mean a long corridor that leads to a view or prospect.
  • It can mean a dream or vision of things to come.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Vischer wore his dad’s green vest for luck today. He had a big proposal to make to the county about increasing the local greenspaces and adding a few vistas around town for locals and travelers alike. He also wanted to launch a new bike sharing initiative. All of these things were intended to curb a local obesity epidemic. The CDC had released a report saying that, in the last decade, Vachelburg county had the highest rates of morbid obesity in the nation.

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