Easily Confused Words: Ballot vs. Ballet

Ballot and ballet 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.

Ballot (pronounced “bough-luht”; rhymes with mallet) is a noun.

  • It means a paper or electronic form a citizen uses to vote. Votes can be for political leaders, new laws, or changes to existing laws.
  • In organizations, it means a written note indicating a preference for organizational business: officer choices, spending funds, etc.

Ballet (pronounced “bah-lay”; rhymes with beret, delay) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a form of dance famous for leaps, elegant spins on one foot, dramatic lifts of female dancers by male dancers.
  • As an adjective, it describes costumes, shoes, and other items related to this form of dance: ballet slippers, ballet tutu, ballet dance class.

The following story uses both words correctly:

It was almost the end of the year, and there was a Beta Club fund surplus. Club members were asked to vote by secret ballot: should they go to a baseball game, a ballet, or throw a party for fun?

Easily Confused Words: Taciturn vs. Tactile

Taciturn and tactile 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.

Taciturn (pronounced “tass-ih-tuhrn”) is an adjective. It describes someone who is quiet, reluctant to speak. Someone of few words.

There’s a legend that President Calvin Coolidge was a taciturn man. Once a woman bet him she could make him say more than two words. He turned to her and said, “You lose.”

Tactile (pronounced “tack-tuhll”) is an adjective. It describes something with a touchable quality, or something for use with one’s hands. For example, Braille, the raised dot system that enables the blind to read, has a tactile quality. Braille appears on signage, and some keypads so a blind person can navigate the system as easily as a sighted person.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Tacita was a taciturn person; she preferred that her art do the talking. Originally a painter, she turned to sculpture and pottery for their tactile qualities.

Easily Confused Words: Chyron vs. Chronicle

Chyron and Chronicle 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.

Chyron (pronounced “chi-ron”; rhymes with “environ”) is a noun. It means text appearing at the bottom of the screen. Typically they are seen crawling across the bottom of the screen on news channels and during newscasts on other channels.

Chronicle (pronounced “krawn-ick-uhl”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to document or write down a detailed account of events. This can be like a diary or log, or something more public, like a newspaper column focused on a specific subject.
  • As a noun, it means the document where records are being made.
  • As a proper noun, it can be the name of a newspaper or news program. For example the San Francisco Chronicle.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Kai was a seasoned reporter at the Charleville Chronicle. He enjoyed writing longform stories and doing in-depth research for 20 years. He had planned on doing this for a lifetime.

Unfortunately, the audience’s attention spans had shortened, their patience had waned, and they had grown to distrust reporters. They often paid attention to headlines delivered crawling chyron-style: just an encapsulating phrase or a tweets-worth gist of each event. The old “Who, what, where, when, and why” now was only “who, what, when, and where.” There was just no time for “why” anymore. If a “why” was proposed, it was accused of having a bias or agenda.

It really broke his heart to see his profession watered down and cheapened in this way.

Easily Confused Words: Druzy vs. Drowsy

Druzy and drowsy 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.

Druzy (pronounced “drew-zee”) is a noun. It is tiny crystals on the surface of a colorful mineral. Today (2017), it is used in jewelry pieces for its sparkly quality. It is not expensive to cut and manufacture into jewelry compared to more precious gems.

Druse is a geology (aka “science of rocks”) term, from which “druzy” is derived. Click the link to learn more.

Drowsy (pronounced “droww-zee”; rhymes with mousy) is an adjective. It describes a feeling of sleepiness, fatigue, and tiredness. The feeling of finding it hard to keep one’s eyes open.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Doralee wanted to find some druzy earrings to match her new spring formal dress, but her allergy medications had made her drowsy. She would have to stop driving and return home. Maybe after a nap, she could try again, or shop online. 

 

Easily Confused Words: Forlorn vs. Forewarn

Forlorn and forewarn 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.

Forlorn (pronounced “four-lohrnn”; rhymes with born, torn, corn) is an adjective. It describes feelings of sadness, loss, and hopelessness, and sometimes, all of the above. In the US, classic country music has a forlorn quality; the singer or songwriter has lost love or lost everything.

Forewarn (pronounced “four-wohrn”) is a verb. It means to caution someone else about danger, a problem, or other conflict that he/she doesn’t see coming, or appear to be worried about.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Forrest was sad to his friend Felipe so forlorn, but he kept his distance. He had tried to forewarn his friend about characters he was involved with that couldn’t be trusted. Felipe had been naive and he hadn’t listened to Forrest’s attempts to tip him off. The consequences had been predictable and painful to watch.

Easily Confused Words: Scabbard vs. Scarab

Scabbard and scarab 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.

Scabbard (pronounced “scab-uhrd”) is a noun. It is a sleeve or sheath for holding a sword.

Scarab (pronounced “scare-uhb”) is a noun.

  • It is a species of beetle. A sacred symbol in ancient Egyptian art and artifacts, it represents immortality and regeneration. These ideas were personified as the god Khepri, who had the head of a scarab.
  • It can mean a gem or stone cut to resemble a beetle.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Dr. Scott couldn’t believe his luck. On day 30 of his excavation, one of his students found the scabbard of a high-ranking Egyptian soldier. It was embellished with intricate carvings and sparkled with carved gems resembling scarabs. Hopefully the sword itself would be found as well. 

Easily Confused Words: Skeptical vs. Spectacle

Skeptical and spectacle 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.

Skeptical (pronounced “skehp-tih-kuhl”) is an adjective. It describes someone who doesn’t believe what he/she sees or hears, someone who tends to ask questions or be critical. For example, being a journalist often requires a person to be skeptical and curious.

Spectacle (pronounced “spehk-tih-kuhl”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, it describes an event or happening coming into view or placed before one’s eyes.
  • As an adjective, it also describes an impressive display, or an elaborate show, a remarkable event meant to wow onlookers.
  • The plural noun, spectacles, means the glasses worn by a person for better vision.
  • In the idiom “make a spectacle,” someone is drawing attention to themselves to get attention, be a topic of gossip, or both.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Scarlett was skeptical. Her friends were raving about a boy band concert. They insisted she had to go too, because it promised to be quite the spectacle, and everyone would be there.