Easily Confused Words: Billed vs. Build

Billed and build 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.

Billed (“bih-lld;” rhymes with pilled, willed, filled) is the past tense of the verb “bill.” To bill is to send an invoice or payment request for services or products rendered. So “billed” indicates that a person or business was sent a payment request in the past, or a paying provider, like an insurance company, was sent such a request.

Build (“bihld”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to construct something.
  • As a noun, it can mean:
    • A structure’s style or characteristics
    • A person’s body, for example: “she has a slight build,” “he had an athletic build”
    • In computers and IT, it can mean turning source code into a standalone, functioning program.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Billa had just wrapped another software build with her team. As a contractor, she was trying to remember if she billed last month’s clients. Work was steady, but it was getting harder to do all herself.

Just at that moment, Ms. Brianna brought over some pie. She was a new stay at home mom, she had adopted her grandchild. Billa made some coffee for both of them.

“I guess I have some accounting ahead of me,” said Billa. I can’t remember if I sent invoices or not.”

“You know I love my grandbaby Izzy, but I am about to climb the wall over there. I would be glad to do your books during her naptime, Billa. I’ve done accounting for years.”

“Oh my god, that would be a lifesaver. Thank you so much. This pie is amazing, by the way.”

“Thank you but I didn’t make this one. It’s a chocolate bourbon caramel from Blumfeld’s on the corner.”

Easily Confused Words: Rows vs. Rose

Rows and rose are easily confused words.

Rows (pronounced “rohws;” rhymes with flows) is the plural of row. A row is a horizontal line of typically identical objects. For example:

  • In the theater or cinema, seats are in alphabetical sections, but the rows are numeric.
  • In a stadium, seats are in alphabetical sections, but the rows are numeric.
  • In a spreadsheet, data is organized by vertical columns and horizontal rows.

Rose (pronounced “rohz;” rhymes with hose, nose, pose) has multiple meanings.

As a noun:

  • It can mean a species of flowering bush with an intense sweet scent. Wild roses have one row of petals around their center, while cultivated roses have been bred to have multiple rows of petals.
  • It can mean a female first name, it can also be a shortened form of Rosamund, Rosemary, Rosemarie, and Roseanne.
  • The heroine of the 1997 film Titanic was named Rose.
  • The mother of President John F. Kennedy, Senator Ted Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy was named Rose. They also had a sister by this name with special needs. Ultimately the family chose that she have a lobotomy.

As an adjective:

  • It can describe a pink or mauve color in any product. This includes clothes, accessories, cosmetics, hair color, and paint. [Mauve is #e0b0ff in HTML hexadecimal code.]
  • It can describe a scent derived from rose plant, or a chemical imitation of that scent.

As a verb, it is the past tense of “rise.” To rise means to elevate or to get up from a seating or resting position.

For example:

  • The audience rose from their seats to sing the national anthem.
  • In Christianity, Jesus Christ rose from the dead after three days.
  • The dough for a yeast bread rose when it was left at room temperature.

The following story uses both words correctly:

In Cavriglia, Italy, Rosalyn finally got to see the Fineschi Rose Garden, the largest of its kind in the world. She was mesmerized by all the colors in the field. Just rows upon rows of roses in every color of the rainbow.

Easily Confused Words: Fax vs. Facts

Fax and facts 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.

Fax (“facks”) is shortened form of facsimile. It means a copy of document sent over a telephone wire to a different location. Prior to email, this was how to quickly send documents from A to B without using a courier.

Today (post is being written in 2019), a person may be asked to use a fax machine to send a document somewhere, and for anyone under 35, this can be a perplexing and seemingly ancient request. Public libraries have facsimile machines and there are online fax services available in these instances.

Facts (pronounced “facktz”) is the plural of “fact.” A fact is a statement of truth based on science, evidence, or other verifiable data.

For example:

  • Like “The birds and the bees,” the phrase “the facts of life” is a euphemism for sex education for preteens and teens.
    • “The Facts of Life” was the name of a US TV series that ran from 1979-1988.
  • In the 1950s US TV show “Dragnet,” a popular catchphrase associated with the lead, Sgt. Joe Friday, was “Just the facts, ma’am.” Oddly enough, this character never said that line specifically.
  • In recent years, US journalism has been advocating for accuracy, reliance on facts, and the importance of journalism in society. This campaign has been in response to recent political leader (and their followers, staff, and party members) of accusing the journalism profession of falsehoods and fiction when unfavorable or negative news comes out about that leader. Prior to this time, right-leaning media (introduced post-1987 in the US) has accused older media (CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS) of being left-leaning. In response, some stations make a point to have left and right leaning commentators discuss issues and the news.

The following story uses both words correctly:

It was a somber day at work. Fatima, the newest pharmacy tech, noticed how quiet it was, and everyone seemed to be in a glum mood. She learned their oldest staffer, Felix, had died in his sleep. He had always assumed adults were boring and well-behaved, he never could have guessed they prove him wrong.

At some point that morning, business had slowed down and everyone was congregated in the cantina area. The conversation naturally gravitated to Felix.

“I can’t believe he’s gone,” said Kevin, “he was really good with customers answering their questions. He knew all about counterindications and bad reactions if they take a lot of pills.”

Everyone nodded. Then it was totally quiet as people each remembered their encounters with Felix, and that no one knows how much time he/she has left.

Fatima added,”When he was at the fax machine, he always said, “Just the facts ma’am,” he chuckled and winked.

“Yes, yes he did,” Sylvia smiled as she dabbed her eyes with a tissue.

Fatima asked, “Why was that funny? What was that about?”

D’Shawn answered, “It was a Dragnet reference, Fatima. It was a police detective show when he was younger.”

“Oh.”

In the weeks that followed, a sticker saying “Just the facts ma’am” would be put on the fax machine in honor of their late coworker.

Easily Confused Words: Kiefer vs. Kefir

Kiefer and kefir 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.

Kiefer (pronounced “key-fuhr”) is a masculine first name that comes from the German language. It means barrel maker.

Kefir (pronounced “keh-fuhr;”also spelled kephir) is a fermented beverage made of milk and kefir grains. It originated in the Caucausus and Eastern Europe, but has more recently become a global product. It is consumed for its probiotic and gut-bacteria benefits. While people with lactose intolerance can enjoy it, people with other milk-related allergies cannot.

The following story uses both words correctly:

After several rounds of antibiotics, Kiefer’s illness had finally passed. Unfortunately, his system was depleted. His personal trainer suggested he try kefir to start replenishing good bacteria into his system.

Easily Confused Words: Guest vs. Guessed

Guest and guessed 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.

Guest (pronounced “gyest;” rhymes with best, lest, zest) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a visitor to dinner or party. It also applies to the customers of hotels, cruises, airplanes, amusement parks, and restaurants.
  • As an adjective, it describes things related to being a customer of a hotel, travel transportation, or restaurant. For example:
    • “Guest Services” consults guests on activities, restaurant options, or resolving problems
    • “Guest Pass” a card that gives access to premium services or activities, shorter wait times, etc.

Guessed (pronounced “gyesssd;”) is the past tense of the verb “guess.” To guess is to give an answer one doesn’t know or isn’t fully confident about giving. So “guessed” indicates an answer one was unsure about, in the past. It can also be used when recounting performance on a quiz show or a fill-in-the-blank.

The following story uses both words correctly:

At his first job in high school, Gustel worked the desk at a hotel. He had always assumed adults were boring and well-behaved, like his parents and teachers. He never could have guessed they would prove these misconceptions wrong in a matter of months. He got odd requests from guests all the time. But he learned plenty from the other staff. Sometimes guests really trashed their rooms. Others nabbed toilet paper, shampoo, and bathrobes.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Gest vs. Jest

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 26, 2019, AT 2:00 P.M.

Easily Confused Words: Quokka vs. Quota

Quokka and quota 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.

Quokka (pronounced “kwawk-uh”) is a small wallaby living in the Rottnest Islands and Western Australia. Photos of the animals have gone viral because they are cute and photogenic.

Quota (pronounced “kwhoa-tuh”) is a numerical word. It indicates a percentage of a total.

  • It can mean a percentage of sales a salesperson in automotive, real estate, or other retail is supposed to achieve in a specific timeframe (week, month, quarter, etc.)
  • It can mean a percentage of traffic tickets an officer is expected to hand out to drivers in a month’s time. Some communities ban this practice, but an NPR article from 2015 affirms they do still exist.
  • It can mean a desired limit to members of a racial or religious group admitted to a college, club, or company.
  • It can also mean a desired increase in members of a racial, religious, or other group admitted to a college, club, or company.

The following story uses both words correctly:

After the resounding success of the quokka display at the zoo, Quinn program coordinator wanted to increase the quota of Australian animals in their collection. By increasing visibility of animals, the public might show a more engaged interest in conservation.

Easily Confused Words: Epilogue vs. Epitaph

Epilogue and epitaph 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.

Epilogue (pronounced “ep-uh-lawg”) is a literary term. It means a synopsis at the end of a novel or play that provides additional information about the characters.

Epitaph (pronounced “ep-uh-taff”) is a noun. It is a mortuary science word. It means the inscription found on a tombstone or a mausoleum crypt. For example, if you go to Key West, Florida, its graveyard features some funny epitaphs like “I told you I was sick.”

The following story uses both words correctly:

Efram had an unusual request in his will. He wanted the epitaph on his tombstone to read like the epilogue in one of his novels. Rather than acknowledge death as an permanent ending, it was a shifting to a new existence. “Ephram saw fit to join the stars, touring galaxies one by one.”

Easily Confused Words: Timber vs. Temper

 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.

Timber (pronounced “tihm-buhr”) has multiple meanings.

As a noun, it refers to:

  • forests used for commercial building materials.
  • wooded land
  • wood that was part of a building that has fallen off.
  • a cry made by lumberjacks when cutting trees to tell their teammates a tree is going falling and to get out of its path as soon as possible if they haven’t already.
  • in equestrian sports, a fence or hurdle used for jumping.
  • in politics, academia, and other esteemed jobs, it means a combination of the personal and professional qualities desired for a high-profile job like POTUS, Prime Minister, or University President.

As a verb, it refers to:

  • performing the duties of a lumberjack
  • to provide wood for supports or other use.

Temper (pronounced “tihm-puhr”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a quality relating to someone’s control over their emotions, especially negative emotions like anger and sadness.
  • As a verb, it means to make a material more robust and less prone to breakage. For example, to temper glass.
  • As a verb, in cooking, it means to prepare an ingredient beforehand so it will blend in with others more readily. For example, tempered eggs are mixed with warm dairy before being used in custard and ice cream. Adding the eggs straight into the main mixture would cause the eggs to scramble instead of blend in properly.

The following story uses both words correctly:

It was an ordinary day at the family ice cream parlor. Timothy was tempering eggs for a new set of flavors when Howard stooped by for an afternoon snack. Howard was an accountant who had grown up with Timothy. As he munched on his cone, he asked, “Hey Tim, word on the street is Mayor Jimson’s gonna retire. Have you ever thought about running?”

No.”

“Well you know everybody and you’re not a politician. Think about it.” This wasn’t easy for Howard to bring up with Tim, but he always felt Tim had the timber to be in a leadership role. It was good to finally bring it up, and Timothy didn’t immediately brush it off.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Timbre vs. Timber

Easily Confused Words: Gallivant vs. Javelin

Gallivant and Javelin 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.

Gallivant (pronounced “gal-uh-vant”) is a verb. It means a prancing, a proud or self-satisfied style of walking around.
It can be used sarcastically to mock someone else’s snobbery, aloofness, or other perceived negative quality.

Javelin (pronounced “jav-uh-lihn”) is a noun.

  • It can mean a spear with a long handle that is thrown from the hand. It is used for defense, or to kill a land or aquatic animal for food.
  • It can mean the Olympic event that determines skill in spear-throwing.
  • In defense and weaponry, it can mean a launched explosive that can destroy a tank.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Javier was gallivanting about the field. So far, he had thrown the javelin the farthest at his company’s informal Olympic games. The next three competitors couldn’t beat his score. He thought he had it locked. His pride was dashed when the final competitor, Josie, threw it farther.

Easily Confused Words: Magnate vs. Magnet

Magnate and magnet 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.

Magnate (pronounced “mag-nayt”) is a noun. It means a successful business leader in a particular industry.

Magnet (pronounced “mag-niht”) has multiple meanings.

As a noun:

  • It means an object containing metal that either clings to or repels other metals. Photons either attract or repel each other.
  • In a figurative sense, it means something attracting attention, admiration, or both in large quantities. This might be a person, a trendy restaurant, or a vacation spot.

The following story uses both words correctly:

With his exquisite sense of style and charming personality, it was no wonder Magnus Musselwhite became a fashion magnate by age 30. Movie stars wanted his gowns on the red carpet. Pieces from his ready to wear line flew off the shelves. He acquired storied brands and breathed new life into them by hiring top design talent from around the world.