Easily Confused Words: Epidemic vs. Endemic

Epidemic and endemic 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.

Epidemic (pronounced “ep-ih-dem-ick”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a sudden prevalence of a disease in locations where it doesn’t normally appear. It rapidly spreads from person to person.
  • As an adjective, it describes something widespread, affecting many people at once.

Endemic (pronounced “ihn-dem-ick”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a thing that is characteristic or has a history in a particular place on the globe.
  • As an adjective, it describes something as belonging to an area’s culture, climate, people, etc.
  • As a noun, it can specifically mean a disease found in a geographic area. For example, tropical areas that have certain fevers associated with them.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Enid was fascinated to learn that the Utuvarian flu epidemic in 1900 nearly wiped out a tribe in Peru that she was studying for anthropology class. Prevalent thought of these peoples was that something more recurring and endemic to the area had been the culprit. For example, the animals in their diet being killed by nearby colonists, a series of devastating storms, or loss of forest habitat. 

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Easily Confused Words: Lute vs. Jute

Lute and jute 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.

Lute (pronounced “loot”; rhymes with newt) is a noun. An ancestor of the modern guitar, lutes were common instruments in medieval Europe.

Today, people who build and repair guitars are still called “luthiers.” Bosnian lutist Edin Karamazov recently recorded with British singer Sting in 2006.

Jute (pronounced “joot”; rhymes with newt) is a noun. It means a plant that is dried and used to make rugs, baskets, and other woven materials.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Lavinia had a wonderful time as an exchange student in Bulgaria as an exchange student. As she unpacked her things, she was flooded with so many good memories of new friends, new experiences. As she reached the bottom of her suitcase, she realized some things were missing. 

Just then, a postman came to the door with a package for her. It was from another exchange student from Mexico, Jabez. The note read: “I think you forgot something! Hope to see you soon!” As she opened it, she realized it was the lute she was worried she had lost forever, wrapped in a jute rug. 

Easily Confused Words: Buy vs. Bye

Buy and Bye are easily confused words. They are also homophones. This means they sound the same, but have different spellings and different meanings.

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.

Buy (“b-eye”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to purchase something with money.
  • As an adjective, it describes something that is available for purchase. For example: The new Ford Focus is described as a great buy in Car and Driver magazine.

Bye (“b-eye”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an interjection, it is short for “goodbye,” a word said when leaving someone else’s company.
    • It is also used sarcastically to indicate someone should get lost. For example: “Bu-bye, now”
  • As a noun, in sports, it means preferential rankings where no competitor exists, so these players are automatically moved to the next round.
    • In golf, it means the unplayed holes of a finished match.
    • In cricket, (a sport popular in the UK & India), it means a run made on a ball not hit by the batsman.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Buffy was crossing paths with her ex, Burney and his new girlfriend Britney. She couldn’t pretend she hadn’t seen them, they had already made eye contact. So she did the next best thing, she pretended she was in a hurry. 

“Oh good to see you, Burney, Britney. I’d stop and talk, but I have to buy some groceries and pick up my cat from the groomer. ‘Bye now!” She drove off before they had uttered a word. 

Easily Confused Words: Enchanting vs. Enhancing

Enchanting and enhancing 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.

Enchanting (pronounced “ihn-chan-tihng”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, it describes something attractive, bewitching, charming, or otherwise appealing to someone.
  • As a verb, it means to charm or bewitch someone.

Enhancing (pronounced “ihn-han-sihng”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it is the gerund form of the verb “enhance.” To enhance is to improve something’s characteristics, performance, or appearance.
  • Used hyphenated, it can be an adjective. For example, “mood-enhancing” or “performance-enhancing” drugs. A “life-enhancing” experience.
  • A related noun is “enhancement.”

The following story uses both words correctly:

Ennis found Enid had an enchanting personality, but she was very popular and he was not. He joined more clubs at school and got more active in the community in the hopes of enhancing his profile. He got busier and made more friends, but Enid was not noticing. Lindsey did, though. 

Easily Confused Words: Ruche and Rush

Ruche and rush 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.

Ruche (pronounced “roosh”) is a noun. It’s a fashion word that comes from French, specifically a word used for beehives and tree bark. In fashion, it means a pleated or gathered piece of lace or other trim for a piece of clothing.

Today (2017, 21st century), ruche can appear on clothes, especially formal dresses. However, on casual clothes, “ruching” means pleated or gathering stitches. Often, it’s so the fabric drapes in form-fitting, or other eye-catching ways. Vintage 1930s and some early 1940s women’s clothes in the US and Europe feature ruching on the bodice, the waist or hips.

Check out this post on craftsy for examples of ruching on handmade clothes.

Rush (pronounced “ruhsh”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to move fast, or at least, in a hurried manner.
  • As a noun, it means a state of hurry or being busy.
  • As an adjective, it describes a stressful, hurried situation, for example, “rush hour” means a timeframe when commuters crowd the roadways and go nowhere fast.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Ruzzo has signed up to design and sew the flag girls’ uniforms for this year’s band competition, which was coming in two weeks. His team was rushing to sew on a lot of sequins and lots of ruching details on each leotard. It was all to complement the Gershwin “Rhapsody in Blue” theme of the band’s music selections. Before the sewing was completed, he was wishing they’d gone with a simpler design. This was proving to be a painstaking effort.

This post relates to another post:  Easily Confused Words: Rook vs. Ruche.

Easily Confused Words: Shudder vs. Shutter

Shudder and shutter 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.

Shudder (pronounced “shuh-duhr”) is a verb. It means to shake with fright or terror in response to something else.

Shutter (pronounced “shuh-tuhr”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means the sliding door mechanism in a film camera that exposes the film to light for a designated period of time. Pushing the button on the camera is what triggers the shutter, and the shutter is what makes that “snapping” sound that tells the photographer the image has been captured.                                                             In digital photography, a file is created instead of a piece of film being exposed. But the “shutter” sound effect remains on cameras and smartphones to let the user know they got a photo. It is not unusual for legacy language to be incorporated in new technology to help users understand how the new tech works.
  • In housing, shutters are also used to frame windows on the outside of a house. In colonial times, shutters were drawn, or pulled together over a window and locked together to prevent wind, rain, and debris from getting inside the house during a storm.
  • As a verb, to “shutter” means to close something, to end a project or business venture. In recent years (2000s-present), this is how news writing has described closures in the business world.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Sutton had just scored a great new job at Politics Weekly. Previously, he had been freelancing for years for multiple publications. It had been a tumultuous journey to get here. Some publications he had really liked writing for were shuttered due to lack of a following, a lack of advertising revenue, or a little of both.

Today he had a steadier paycheck and represented a well-known masthead. Both were a welcome change. He shuddered to think about returning to eating ramen and breakfast cereal on a regular basis. 

Easily Confused Words: Laudable vs Audible

Laudable and audible 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.

Laudable (pronounced “lawd-ih-buhl”) is an adjective. It describes something praiseworthy, something worthy of acclaim and attention.

Audible (pronounced “aww-dih-buhl”) is an adjective. It describes something that can be heard.

  • As a proper noun, it’s the name of a company that sells audiobooks.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Audie received an award for her outreach towards sensory impaired and disabled communities. United Way and other groups recognized her efforts as laudable and worthy of emulation. 

Over the course of five years, she had upgraded local government websites and other information to better reach sensory impaired  and disabled communities. Websites now had audible functionality for the visually impaired. Animations were added to improve understanding of complex concepts for the general audience, they too had a strictly audio version for the visually impaired. She implemented more multimedia that was responsive to people’s needs and enhanced their understanding of information. She provided her own name as who to contact if anything was still unclear or could use improvement.

Getting an award after all that work felt good and was very exciting. But even better, Audie was now getting calls from other communities on how to implement similar measures for their town’s websites.