Easily Confused Words: Beast vs. Breast

Beast and breast are easily confused words. The confusion here is about pronunciation. They both contain e-a-s-t. A newcomer to English might want to think they rhyme. But they don’t.

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.

Beast (pronounced “beest;” rhymes with feast, least) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it is another word for animal, usually one that lives in the wild.
    • It can also mean an animal, wild or domesticated, acting in an erratic or savage manner.
      • For example: Rabies is a disease that causes an afflicted creature to salivate foam and act like an angry, biting beast. Usually afflicted animals are shot to avoid the spread of the disease to humans or other creatures. Humans bit by rabid animals have an intense regimen of shots for treatment.
      • It can be used figuratively to describe human behavior that is violent, savage, or very passionate. In pop culture:
        • In Star Wars: the Force Awakens (2015), Maz Kanata calls the invading army “Those beasts!” as they fly into her planet’s airspace and drop bombs.
        • In Tim Burton’s Batman movie (1989), Joker awkwardly waltzes with his captive Vicki Vale and wisecracks,“Beauty and the Beast. Of course if anyone else calls you beast I’ll rip their lungs out.”
  • As an adjective, it can describe something aggressive or intense. For example, an exercise routine at a local gym being described as “beast mode.”

Breast (pronounced “bresst;” rhymes with west, test, best) has multiple meanings.

As a noun:

  • It can mean the mammary glands and surrounding tissue found on the chest of a female human and some land mammals, like elephants. Dogs and pigs have eight nipples or teats and minimal breast tissue surrounding each one.
    • An udder is also a type of mammary gland, but it is an external sac with teats found near the groin of cows, goats, giraffes, donkeys, squirrels, sheep, and deer.
    • Mammals that live in the water, like whales and dolphins, have nipples that retract into the body when not in use. To learn more about lactation in the wild, check out this Geek Mom post, but preferably not on your work computer.
  • It can be used more generally mean the chest area of a person. For example, a child reunited with a lost stuffed toy or doll squeezes it to their breast in a prolonged hug.
  • On a food menu, it indicates a food item contains the meat from the chest area of a chicken (or other poultry), or is a cut of meat from this area of a chicken (or other poultry.) For example, if you order a bucket of fried chicken at an American franchise restaurant, it usually contains chicken breasts, legs, thighs, and maybe wings.

As an adjective:

  • In fashion, it describes styles of jacket, vest (waistcoat), or coat with buttons.
    • A double-breasted jacket features two columns of buttons on the front. One column is used to fasten the panels together and close the jacket on a person’s body, the other column is for decoration and visual balance. The right and left panels of the front of the jacket also overlap by two inches or more. Usually the collar of the panel that goes underneath the other one visually aligns with the decorative buttons on the outside of the other panel. Since this is awkward to envision based on solely on a worded description, here’s a video.
    • A single-breasted jacket, vest (waistcoat) or coat features just one column of buttons and the panels don’t overlap much at all.
  • In medicine:
    • It describes cancer and other disorders related to this part of the body.
    • It describes charities, research, campaigns, and events about this type of cancer. For example, breast cancer awareness in the US takes place every October.
      • While breast cancer awareness campaigns and events target a female audience, men can get breast cancer too. Check out this clever ad that uses lemons to educate the public about warning signs to look for here.
    • It describes surgery and materials used in surgery that are performed in this part of the body. Example terms include breast enlargement, breast reduction, breast augmentation, breast reconstruction, and breast implants.
  • It describes lactation or the end product, as in the term “breast milk.”
  • It describes products for lactating women, like a breast pump. This pump which collects milk in bulk for feeding an infant later.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Today Bea learned her cancer was in remission. Her hair was slowly growing back. As she reached the end of this detour, she he found herself remembering how she got on this path two years prior.

It was Saturday morning. She had just climbed out of the shower and wrapped herself in a towels. Meanwhile, their Saint Bernard, Barney, came lumbering through the door as if he’d been gone forever. He ran down the hall to their bedroom. He burst through the doorway and lunged on her with his muddy paws. She felt an awkward feeling accompanied by pain in her right breast. It wasn’t the dogs claws. She felt the same area herself. Yep, it was a knot or lump of some sort. Oh God. Really?! This, now?

Her husband Sam appeared, “Sorry! tThe old Barn got away from me again.” Then Sam noticed the distracted look on her face.

“Hey what’s wrong? Did he hurt you?”

“No. I don’t want it to be a big thing, but I have a lump that I never noticed before. I guess I should get it checked out.”

“Yes, you should definitely do that. Hey, how about I make us breakfast?”

Suddenly the day’s plans had a gray tinge to them. An elephant was in the room of her life’s plans. But she put on a brave face and smiled.

“That would be wonderful, Sam. I’ll get dressed and dry my hair.”

The above story may be hard to believe, but similar real stories have been reported in the UK in 2014 and 2015.

Easily Confused Words: Snore vs. Snort

 Snore and snort 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.

Snore (pronounced “snohr;” rhymes with bore, core, tore, sore) is a verb. A person snores in their sleep when their throat closes and the brain isn’t getting sufficient air. Usually this is a symptom of sleep apnea. Pillows that offer better neck support, and CPAP machines are two remedies for snoring.

Snort (pronounced “snohrt;” rhymes with torte, fort, sort, court) is a verb. It means to exhale quickly and audibly from one’s nose. Usually this is in response to something upsetting or ridiculous that someone else said.

The following story uses both words correctly:

At the doctor’s office, they had gotten on the topic of sleep. Snezhana said, “Oh I sleep really well.”

The obstetrician asked, “And how about you, young Dad?”

Snezhana interrupted,”Oh he sleeps fine.” Steve snorted and gave her side-eye. “Yeah, I manage okay. It’s not really quiet.”

“Oh do you live in a noisy area?”

“No.”

Snezhana blushed and seemed surprised. “Is it me? Do I snore?”

Steve chuckled. “Like a freight train. It’s okay though, honey, I got earplugs at some point.”

She seemed bothered by this revelation. “When were you going to tell me? How long has that been going on?”

“I guess just since you’ve been pregnant.”

The obstetrician interrupted the awkward lull in conversation. “That’s normal. The diaphragm is slightly compressed by the uterus. And your nasal passages can swell as well.”

‘Well really, what isn’t swelling at this point?!” Snezhana wanted kids, but the process wasn’t fun. And there was still 2.5 months to go.

Easily Confused Words: Confer vs. Conifer

Confer and conifer 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.

Confer (pronounced “kawn-fuhr”) is a verb. It means to discuss an issue or issues with a board, or other group of decision makers.

Conifer (pronounced “kawn-ih-fuhr”) is a noun. It is a botany word. Conifers are trees have needle-like leaves and they reproduce via cones and pollen. Many species are evergreen, but this is not applicable to all conifers.

Pines, junipers. firs, and spruces are types of conifer trees. In the West, you might call these Christmas trees, because these are the species farmed and then cut down for seasonal decorations in December. There are also plastic imitation trees and wreaths for sale.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Students at schools across the state staged a day long protest on Earth Day. They demanded the adults take more aggressive steps to save the planet. In Woodberry, the community beautification board agreed with the students, they needed to plant 100 trees around town, but they weren’t sure what species to pick.

Kahna drove around for local options. Local Christmas tree farmer Jacobson’s, offered 20 conifer seedlings. A local gardening superstore offered oaks, maples, sweetgums, ginkgos, and sycamores.

“It’s so awesome we’ve gotten so much support for this project. I need to confer with the board what our selections will be. I think we still need to get soil samples from the areas where we want to plant the trees so each one has the best conditions for success.”

Easily Confused Words: Vulnerable vs. Venerable

Vulnerable and venerable are easily confused words.

Vulnerable (pronounced “vuhl-nuh-ruh-buhl”) is an adjective.

  • It describes someone who is at risk or susceptible to exploitation, poverty, starvation, or other problems.
  • It describes something at risk or susceptible to exploitation or manipulation.
    • This could be a valuable port or land rich in natural resources without defense systems in place
    • A computer without antivirus.

Venerable (pronounced “vihn-uh-ruh-buhl”) is an adjective that describes someone or something honorable, revered, or at least worthy of reverence. For example, a high ranking member of the military, clergy or ministry, or the judiciary.

The following story uses both words correctly:

After speaking out against dictator Brandino, the venerable Reverend Vincenzo Vito had to up his security. By speaking out, he was much more vulnerable to attack by the dictator’s police, or vigilanteism by one of Brandino’s rabid followers.

Easily Confused Words: Griffon vs. Gargoyle

Griffon and gargoyle 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.

Griffon (pronounced “grih-fuhn;” also spelled gryphon and griffin) is a mythical creature with the head and wings of an eagle, but the body of a lion. Sometimes the forelegs resemble an eagle’s talons, but not always.

Gargoyle (pronounced “garr-goy-uhl;” rhymes with parboiled) Is a noun. Gargoyles are sculpted monsters and ghouls featured on the roofs of gothic architecture. They were intended to scare off evil spirits.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Greg and George loved to read and didn’t take the school social scene too seriously. While their friends were all movie superheroes and pop stars for the Halloween party, they took a different path. Greg sat in the corner of the party for an hour, absolutely quiet and staring. When no one could guess what he was, he announced he was a gargoyle. Meanwhile, Greg was a griffon. He wore lion pants and an eagle head, making creative use of old mascot uniforms from his siblings. Incredibly he had developed a mechanical means to get his wings to flap as he walked around the room. When the party started getting a little boring, the two grabbed a football and went outside to play.

After high school, the two started working as personalities at the local radio station, under the monikers Griff n’ Garg.

Easily Confused Words: Face vs. Phase

Face and phase 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.

Face (pronounced “fayss;” rhymes with place, race) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means the front of the skull, from the hairline to the tip of the chin.
  • As a verb, it means to confront circumstances or problems head on.

Phase (pronounced “fayz;” rhymes with maze, taze, daze) has multiple meanings.

As a noun:

  • It means a period in a growth or maturity cycle.
  • It can mean a brief infatuation with a color, a piece of fashion, a music band, or other item.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Fae really hoped her boys were just in a phase, and by high school they would outgrow their love for colored mohawk hairdos. She doubted they would succeed in adulthood, trying to work in an office with that style hair. She wasn’t sure she could face that future.

Easily Confused Words: Boost vs. Boast

Boost and boast 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.

Boost (pronounced “boo-st;” rhymes with roost, loosed) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to lift or help raise something vertically in the air.
  • As a noun, it means the lift or raise being given to someone or something else.

Boast (pronounced “bohst;” rhymes with toast, most, roast, coast) is a verb. It means to brag, to make bold claims about oneself, one’s achievements, or one’s possessions. It can also mean a proud sharing of good news or new developments.

  • It means to brag, to make bold claims about oneself, one’s achievements, or one’s possessions.
  • It can also mean a proud sharing of good news or new developments.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Brianna Boswell, band director, was tired that Barbra boasted about how much her dad had donated to the band’s fall fundraiser. She claimed their donation was what boosted them over their $2000 goal for new uniforms. In reality, trumpeter Brian’s parents had donated far more money and some of their time on weekends to help the band out. Boasting just wasn’t their style. Brianna didn’t want to seem ungrateful for their contributions, and was determined set the record straight.

At the end of the year, the band put on a special concert and special horn of plenty fruit basket was given to Brian’s family. Barbra came and played her oboe as required, but her mood seemed sour. Her parents weren’t at the show.

Easily Confused Words: Crowd vs. Crowed

Crowd and crowed 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.

Crowd (pronounced “kr-owd;” rhymes with loud, proud) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a large grouping of people, usually huddled closely together. For example, concerts for popular musicians and the opening weekend of blockbuster movies usually draw large crowds.
  • As a verb, it means to huddle together. For example, reporters usually crowd around athletes after they’ve won a game to get a statement on camera, or around politicians during campaigns, debates, or during government actions like hearings.

Crowed (pronounced “kroh-wd”) is the past tense of the verb “crow.” To crow is to say something loud and unpleasant tone, like the call of the crow species of bird. A person who crows what they have to say are usually angry or upset. Maybe he/she is feeling ignored, or he/she is sharing an unconsidered or neglected point on a controversial issue.

The following story uses both words correctly:


Thundercloud was a band on the rise. After four hit singles in a row, they had returned home to perform at a local college stadium. Based on how fast tickets sold, it was going to be a sellout crowd.

It was supposed to be a happy occasion given their recent success, but tempers inside the band were flaring. The lead singer, Caufield, was getting too cocky. He was taking credit for everything in radio interviews. A lot of their songs had been cowritten by their drummer, Dylan, and bassist Joe, but no one would know that based on what was said to the media. Dylan and Joe had had about enough of his antics.

“Why didn’t you talk about the band’s contributions this morning?!” asked Dylan.

“Are we really getting into this now? I need to get in the right frame of mind before performing,” said Caufield.

Joe chimed in. “We haven’t been together that long, but it’s not hard to notice that it’s never a good time, Caufield. We are a team. We are getting famous together. It’s not all you and tight jeans.”

“Guys, guys, let’s talk about this after the show, okay?i need to be in top form.”

“This band is nothing without songs,” Dylan crowed, “I quit!”

The remaining bandmates stood in shock for a moment. For whatever reason, no one ran after Dylan to talk him down. The show was set to start in five minutes.

Caufield turned to his younger brother Carlton, who happened to be hanging around backstage. “Well Carlton, here’s your chance for a debut. Hope you are ready for it.”

Easily Confused Words: Suffix vs. Suffice

Suffix and suffice 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.

Suffix (pronounced “suh-fihx”) is a noun. It is a grammar term also called a morpheme. A suffix is a 2-4 letter sequence attached to the end of a word to change its tense.

Here are some examples, but by no means an all-inclusive list:

  • -itis, for example: bursitis, phlebitis, dermatitis
  • -sis, for example: psoriasis, scoliosis
  • -ic, for example: anemic, bionic, cyclonic, stereophonic, symphonic
  • -ism, for example: Buddism, Catholicism, Nihilism
  • -ing, for example: running, jumping, trying, bringing
  • -an, for example: Alaskan, Nebraskan, Montanan
  • -ian, for example: Martian, Californian, Georgian
  • -er, for example: New Yorker, Mainer, Marylander
  • -ch, for example: French, Dutch
  • -ite, for example: Wisconsinite, New Hampshirite
  • -ette, for example: Dinette, Kitchenette, Silhouette
  • -phyte, for example: neophyte, dermatophyte, epiphyte

Suffice (pronounced “suh-feye-ss;” rhymes with entice, nice, ice) is a verb. It indicates something being enough, or fulfilling a requirement.

Suffice is related to the adjective “sufficient.”

The following story uses both words correctly:

Sufa was having to adjust her lesson plans this week. She thought her students would get the hang of suffixes in English after two days of discussion and exercises. However, that coverage did not suffice, over half the class was still struggling. So all the subsequent lesson plans had to be delayed by another week. Hopefully they would not run out of time before she covered everything they needed for their big exam.

Easily Confused Words: Lobbed vs. Lobbied

Lobbed and lobbied 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.

Lobbed (pronounced “lahbd;” rhymes with robbed, bobbed) is the past tense of lob. To lob is to launch an object so that it flies at a high arc and into its target area.

  • In warfare, this might be a grenade or cannonball.
  • In sports, this a tennis or cricket ball.
  • More figuratively, a journalist lobs a difficult or hard-hitting question at their subject.

So “lobbed” indicates this was done in the past.

Lobbied (pronounced “lah-beed”) is the past tense of the verb “lobby.” To lobby is to appeal or request favor from someone else, usually an authority figure. For example, industry and organization representatives have lobbied members of the Legislature and Executive branches of the US government for decades.

The following story uses both words correctly:

A number of local workers had died in a refinery explosion. Investigations of the site were showing that safety measures that should have been taken were not. It was cheaper for major industry just to pay negligible fines. The families of the victims lacked the financial means to sue the company. The multinational corporation that owned the pipelines lobbied government officials to relax standards on the industry as a whole to favor their profits and lower their obligations to the environment and their workers.

When the refinery owner agreed to an interview on local news, reporter Loba Idowu was ready. She lobbed serious questions at the local refinery owner who was believed to be taking bribes from his multinational corporate superiors.