Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Sarsparilla vs. Sassafras

Sarsparilla and sassafras 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.

Sarsparilla (pronounced “sarr-spuh-rihl-uh”) it means a climbing vine with lily-like flowers that grows in the warmer parts of the Americas. Its extract has been used for medicinal purposes. Check out this blogpost, and this one, to learn more.

Sassafras (pronounced “sass-uh-frass”) is a proper noun with multiple associations.

  • It can mean a mountain located in the northwest corner of South Carolina, a state in the US South.
  • It can mean a deciduous tree. It is recognizable by its leaves; they are mostly three-lobed with two lobed ones nearer the root. This tree flourishes in the US South, but can also be found in Maine, the US Midwest, and southern Canada. This is a flavoring used for root beer in the 1800s, but was later determined to be a carcinogen and capable of causing nerve damage in animals. A lot of today’s root beer uses imitation extracts to create a similar herbal flavor.
    • Sassafras is also used in elicit (illegal) drugs like ecstasy.
    • To learn more, check out a blog dedicated to tree-based extract sodas here.
    • If you are on a Route 66 roadtrip, check out Pops Soda Ranch of Arcadia, Oklahoma, it is a diner and a shrine to all things soda.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Sassandra ran a soda fountain and apothecary in Sashoma, Florida. Some kids were at the counter, sipping sarsaparilla and amaretto syrup sodas.

“Is it true Sassafras can make you feel funny?”

“It certainly does, and it’s not that funny. Where did you hear that?”

“Some older kids. They said were going to a dance at an old barn building on Route 27.”

“I need you to stay away from those kids. Some people let partying run their whole life, they accomplish nothing, they can’t support themselves. You don’t want to be those people.”

“We hear you, Miss Sassandra.”

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Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Mitosis vs. Osmosis

Mitosis and Osmosis 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.

Mitosis (pronounced “my-toh-sihs”) is a noun. It means a cell biology process of splitting into two new cells with their own pair of chromosomes from a single one.

Osmosis (pronounced “awzz-moh-sihs”) is a noun with multiple meanings.

  • it can mean the ability to absorb information with little to no effort.
  • it can mean water or another liquid moving through a semi-permeable membrane.
  • it can mean water’s tendency to move through a membrane into a higher concentraion from a lower concentration.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Osmond was studying harder this go round for his biology test. Last time he had claimed he learned by osmosis and didn’t need to hard. That big D on his graded test said otherwise. His study partner, Ollie, had some goody mnemonic devices for remembering things.

“What is the term for a cell splitting into two new ones?”

”Myopia?”

“No, but you’re close. So close I can feel it in my toeses.”

“Oh!Mitosis. I see what you did there.” It was going to be a long afternoon.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Thresh vs. Thrush

Thresh and thrush 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.

Thresh (pronounced “th-resh”; rhymes with flesh, mesh) is a verb. It is an agriculture (aka farming) word. It means to separate grains from the stalk or plant on which it grew. In the last century, machines have taken over this task that was once done by hand.

Check out a video of a thresher in action here. In the video you can see the plants are fed into one end of the machine. The machine cuts the grain portion off and siphons into a collection bin below. The rest of the plant is shredded and shot into the air. the discarded pieces pile up in a nearby field, to be used for compost or animal feed later.

Thrush (pronounced “th-ruhsh”; rhymes with brush) is a noun with multiple meanings.

  • It can mean an infection of the mouth caused by yeast overgrowth.
  • It can mean an insect-eating songbird. In the US, one species is called the Wood Thrush. They are recognizable by the auburn red feathers on their head, back and tail, while their chest is a creamy white color with brown speckles. Thrushes, like mockingbirds, tend to fly low, briskly walking around on the ground, and devouring lots of insects. You can hear a Wood Thrush’s song here.  Other Thrush species are different shades of brown.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Trudy was exhausted from her day job at the mill, but the wheat couldn’t wait another day. It had to be cut, threshed, and bushelled tonight, before a big stormfront rolled in. She and Truman stayed out past sundown to get it done, long after the thrushes and other songbirds had called it a day.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Succor vs. Sucker

Succor and sucker are easily confused words. They are also homophones, meaning they sound the same, but are spelled differently and have 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.

Succor (pronounced “”suh-kuhr”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means help, aid, or assistance given to another person, or a larger group of people.
  • As a verb, it means to give help or aid.

Sucker (pronounced “suh-kuhr”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun:
    • It can mean a thing that acts like a vacuum or uses suction to function. Leeches have suckers at their mouth which enables them to feed on blood. It can mean a gullible or naive person which is likely to be conned or deceived by others. For example, maybe you’ve heard the phrase “there’s a sucker born every minute,” which means there’s a lot of gullible people in the world. It can mean a person who is a loser, or at least appearing to lack savvy and sophistication compared to the person who is speaking. It can mean another way of saying lollipop. For example, a basket of suckers or candies awaits children at the doctor’s office sometimes.It can mean a very young mammal that is sustained by its mother’s milk. I admit I don’t hear this usage often.
  • As a verb:
    • It can mean to be conned, deceived, or taken advantage of.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Sussex tried to warn his friend Cecille not to get suckered in by Stedman’s charms. Stedman was handsome, very good at being attentive, and providing succor if there was an audience nearby, or better yet, a smartphone camera, to witness his good deeds. He had a whole crowd of girls swooning after him for every one of his heroic actions. Who wouldn’t want to be his friend or girlfriend?

Little did they know, that in private Stedman was rude, demanding, and selfish. Sussex discovered who Stedman really was after doing all the work for their recent school project. When the due date came, Stedman took over the presentation and took all the public credit. Sussex was embarrassed in front of the class as his partner ridiculed him for being unhelpful.

Unfortunately, Cecille hadn’t had any boyfriends. Getting Stedman’s attention was a dream come true. It was getting hard for Sussex to keep his mouth shut when she was so happy. Unfortunately, he knew that Stedman never had one girlfriend at a time.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Indict vs. Induct

Indict and induct 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.

Indict (pronounced “ihn-dye-tt”; rhymes with invite, insight, delight) is a verb. It is a criminal justice and legal term. It is the formal means of bringing a charge, or charges against someone. This is a requirement for bringing him/her to trial.

The related noun, indictment, is the charge, or set of charges, brought against the accused.

Induct (pronounced “ihn-duckt”) is a verb with multiple meanings.

  • In science, it means to create an electrical or magnetic current. In school, children learn about electricity through demonstrations, and projects, like making a battery from a potatoes, nails, and coins. Click the link for a video.
  • In the military, it’s another way of saying enlist or conscript a person for service.
  • In organizations, it means to admit someone as a member by vote from existing members, or make someone an officeholder by vote from existing members. For example, in the US, nominees for induction into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame are announced the previous year. Members vote, and the inductees are announced before the ceremony in March. Acts become eligible for nomination 25 years after the release of their debut album. So any group releasing an album in 1995 or earlier is eligible for the 2020 class of inductees. Here is a link about the newly eligible music acts.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Inessa had a roller coaster week ahead of her. Tuesday night she was going to be inducted into the board at her children’s private school. Friday afternoon, her husband, Mayor Izzy Inman, was going to be indicted on fraud and embezzlement charges. The prosecution, looking to make an example out of him, was going to make the case for 10 years in prison. He wanted her to appear in court with him, even though she was aware he had a relationship with his personal assistant. The idyllic family life she had envisioned was quickly falling apart through no fault of her own.

Easily Confused Words

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.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Farsi vs. Farce

Farsi and farce 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.

Farsi (pronounced “far-see;” rhymes with Darcy, Marcy) is a proper noun. It is the native language of Iran, formerly Persia.

Farce (pronounced “farse;” rhymes with parse) is a noun. It means a comedy play or film. It can also mean a real life situation that makes a mockery of how things should properly work.

The following story uses both words correctly:

He liked to feel more comfortable in new situations. So Farren had studied Farsi before his trip to Iran this summer so things would go smoothly. He also booked his flight and hotel well in advance of leaving.

Despite all the planning and preparation, his arrival and first few days were something of a farce. Luggage got lost, his lodgings were also problematic. His taxi driver invited him to stay at his home until things got sorted out.