Easily Confused Words: Carmel vs. Caramel

Carmel and caramel 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.

Carmel (pronounced “karr-MELL”) is the name of two geographic locations.

  • In the US, it is Carmel by the Sea, a town in middle coast of the state of California. It is south of San Francisco and San Jose, but north of Big Sur. Check out a website here.
  • In the Middle East, it is a mountain range in Israel near the Mediterranean Sea.

Caramel (pronounced “care-uh-mell”/”karr-muhl”) is a noun with multiple meanings.

  • It is a sweet, sticky liquid made from heated sugar. It is a honey brown color. It is used to top ice cream sundaes, decorate cookies, cakes, and other sweets. It is also used on popped corn to create “caramelcorn.”
  • It can also be poured into a mold and allowed to firm up. It is then cut into squares and eaten like fudge or taffy.
  • It can mean the color of caramel, a golden brown, in other, non-edible objects, like  clothing, hair color products, furniture, shoes, plants, or land.
  • NOTE: Check out regional pronunciation differences in the US here. Caramel is the second word covered on this page.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Carmelita was vacationing in Carmel by the Sea as part of a road trip down Highway 1. After spending a couple days at the beach trying out kitesurfing, she noticed more caramel highlights in her hair and a sense of refreshment from being outdoors.

In addition to new experiences, her other goal was to try as many American foods as possible. Burgers, fried cupcakes, pork barbecue, brisket barbeque, Philly cheesesteak, and frozen cheesecake on a stick were all on the list.

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Easily Confused Words: Loom vs. Loon

Loom and loon 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.

Loom (pronounced “loo-mm”; rhymes with room, broom, boom) is a noun.

  • It means a frame used for weaving, they can be a small handheld model to make socks or a hat, or a large model where the weave uses their hand and feet to weave a rug or other large piece. Typically looms they are made from wood or plastic.
  • In tech, it can mean an application used for video recording a screen.

Loon (pronounced “looo-n”; rhymes with noon, moon, boon) is a noun. It means a bird native to North America freshwater. It has a short neck, a pointed beak, and it dives to catch fish. It has a unique call that can be heard here.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Leona worked a stressful job as an emergency responder. On the late afternoons of her days off, she walked to the lake shores behind her cabin. She brought Pinot Grigio, a folding chair, and her knitting loom. Weaving the threads together was very calming. Eventually it got too dark to see her work and it was time to set it aside. Listening to the loons’ calls and sipping wine as dusk set in was good for the soul. Her friends who lived downtown didn’t understand the appeal of living out here, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Easily Confused Words: Whisky vs. Whisking

Whisky and whisking 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.

Whisky (pronounced “whihss-kee”; rhymes with frisky, risky) is a distilled spirit made from corn and freshwater. Historically it has been made in Ireland, Scotland, and in the Southern US, but since the 2000s it has really taken off in Japan and other places.

Whisky is also sometimes spelled “Whiskey.”

Whisking (pronounced “whiss-kihng”; rhymes with frisking) is the gerund form of the word “whisk.”

  • Generally speaking, someone whisking is sweeping items off a surface with one fast swipe, or scooping up another person or animal to take them elsewhere.
    • Here’s two examples:
      • The child was fully engrossed in playing with his Legos until his dad whisked him away for a dreaded bath.
      • She whisked the clutter off the counters when she learned her family was dropping by to see her new apartment in the next five minutes. 
  • In baking, to whisk is to mix a batter with the intent of getting air into it. So whisking is doing this activity right now, in the present.
    • For example, by whisking egg whites with a dash of cream of tartar, meringue is formed. It is a foamy topping traditionally used for chilled pies with creamy filling (i.e., key lime, banana cream)

The following story uses both words correctly:

Whitley was making her famous bourbon whisky chess pie for the local farmers market contest. For an elegant finishing touch, she was whisking some meringue.  After letting it cool and thicken, it would be piped onto the top, then she would lightly brown it in the broiler.

Easily Confused Words: Primer vs. Primary

Primer and primary 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.

Primer (pronounced “pry-muhr”) has multiple meanings, all nouns.

  • It can mean an introduction or a brief on the basics of a subject.
  • In painting furniture, walls, or cars, it means a base coat product that is applied so the color or varnish adheres better and lasts longer.
  • In facial cosmetics, it means a cream or lotion that is applied after a moisturizer. This type of primer allows eyeshadow, foundation, or other makeup to apply smoothly, look flawless, and last longer than makeup on a bare face.

Primary (pronounced “pry-mare-ee”) has multiple meanings.

As a noun, in politics, it means an election held to determine a candidate from a list of people running within a party. For example, in the US, each state holds Democratic and Republican primaries before general elections.

As a verb, it means to hold a primary election for an incumbent candidate. In the situation there’s one or more challengers within their own party and they think he/she can do a better job than the current office-holder.

As an adjective, it means first, earliest, or primitive. For example, primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. These colors, when paired and mixed, form the secondary colors green, purple, and orange.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Primrose Pendleton had served as representative for her district for 15 years. She felt confident in her position and that members of her community communicated with her readily, they had a strong relationship. So it was shocking when a challenger in her party appeared on the scene. He had no experience, and a lot of opinions about problems in the community. 

She hired a PR firm to help with her campaign. They started by giving her a primer on being an incumbent in a primary. “Representative Pendleton, its not that your constituents are necessarily unhappy. This is happening in a number of districts across the country. A new wing of the party wants influence, so they are pursuing unseating some of the longest serving people in the party in their home district. If they win enough seats, the party will have to listen to them and let them take charge of the party’s agenda.”

This post relates to other posts: Easily Confused Words: Premier vs. Primer

Easily Confused Words: Furlough vs. Forlorn

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.

Furlough (pronounced “furr-low”) has multiple meanings.

As a verb:

  • It means releasing an employee (or employees) from work temporarily. The US government shut down in December 22, 2018 and re-opened in late January 25, 2019. During this period, 350,000 employees were furloughed.
  • It means granting a leave of absence for an enlisted member of the military.
  • It means granting a period of leave for a prisoner.

As a noun:

  • It means the period of time in which someone is released from work, from military service, or from serving a prison sentence.

Forlorn (pronounced “fohr-lohrn”) is an adjective. It describes someone or something that is sad, yearning, or experiencing loss.

  • For example, traditional country music often features forlorn themes: lost love, unrequited love, deceptive lovers, being financially broke, or drinking alcohol to escape misery. The late Hank Williams wrote classics like Your Cheatin’ Heart, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, and Cold, Cold Heart. 

The following story uses both words correctly:

Fereshteh had been furloughed from her government job for two weeks now. As each day started and she had nowhere to go, she became more forlorn and frustrated. Maybe it was time to start something of her own. 

Easily Confused Words: Indict vs. Indicate

Indict and indicate 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 means the formal means of bringing charges against someone, which is required to bring them to trial.

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

Indicate (pronounced “ihn-dih-kayt”; ) is a verb. It means to provide information or illustrations that supports a specific procedure or outcome.

For example:

  • Building instructions indicate how something is put together, and in what order it should be put together.
  • Food labels indicate how the contents should be cooked, at what temperature, for how long. For meats, it may also indicate what internal temperature cooked meat should be to confirm it’s thoroughly cooked. Food labels can also indicate if they can/cannot be frozen or refrigerated.
  • The findings of a science project indicate a confirmation or denial of the initial hypothesis.
  • Evidence in a criminal investigation indicates whether the accused is guilty or innocent, or more evidence is needed.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Indira was told she needed to hire an attorney.  People around her were also being given similar advice. Like her, many couldn’t believe that their boss, the governor, was likely to be indicted in the coming weeks. There was evidence that indicated he had taken money and lavish vacations from a big energy company in order to get favorable treatment in the state. The state could use the jobs, but not at the expense of public health. Indira had worked for this campaign right out of college. She viewed the governor as an upstanding citizen who wouldn’t compromise his integrity. What had happened since then? 

Easily Confused Words: Topaz vs. Tapas

Topaz and tapas 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.

Topaz (pronounced “toh-pazz”) is a noun with multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a mineral, composed of fluorine and aluminum, that comes in a variety of shades. Topaz’s carved into gems, they range from brown and amber to saffron yellow colors. But those with additional impurities, they come in every shade of the rainbow. Topaz is the gemstone of November.
    • Multi-tone topaz stones, like mystic, fire and rainbow, are created by taking a clear stone and applying a coating to it.
  • As a noun, it can also mean two species of hummingbirds with golden throats that live in South America.

Tapas (pronounced “tuh-puhz”) is a Spanish word. It is a noun. It means small plates of food. In the US, we would liken these to appetizers.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Topher was truly surprised that his partner Tim proposed over dessert after an evening sampling tapas. 

He presented him a plate with a topaz ring on it.

“You know, it’s been an incredible three years, Topher. I think things can only get better from here. How about we make it official?”

Topher was floored. “Yes! I’m the luckiest man alive right now.” He was trying really hard to blink back grateful tears. This was really happening.