Easily Confused Words: Aberrant vs. Abhorrent

Aberrant and abhorrent 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.

Aberrant (pronounced “uh-bear-uhnt”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, it describes something tangential, something off course from the original path, action, or train of thought.
  • As a noun, it means someone or something in the state of being unusual, exceptional, or divergent in some way.

Abhorrent (pronounced “uhb-hore-uhnt”; rhymes with torrent) is an adjective. It describes something detestable, disgusting, or horrifying.

The related verb, abhor, means to feel intense hatred for something.

The following story uses both words correctly:

At a debate, Abhinav was writing about what each candidate had to say. He had studied political science and rhetoric in school, so he was wise to techniques others might miss.

A popular time-killer was the aberrant folksy tale about a candidate’s childhood or family. It gave the audience a warm, relatable feeling, but it took up time and failed to answer any real questions about policy. Abhinav found these habits abhorrent; they would never fly in ordinary job interviews. What mattered was could you do the job, and did you care about doing the job, especially in hard situations. 

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Easily Confused Words: Feet vs. Feat

Feet and feat are easily confused words. They are also homophones, meaning they sound the same, but are spelled differently and mean different things.

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.

Feet (pronounced “feet”; rhymes with wheat, teat, meat) is a noun. It means the part of the body at the end of the legs. Feet enable us to balance, walk, run, dance, etc.

Feat (pronounced “feet”; rhymes with wheat, teat, meat) is a noun. It means an achievement, or an impressive goal or task performance.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Phoebe was training hard to take her gymnastics skills to the highest levels. Her unique choreography with her flips, tumbles and cartwheel combinations were an incredible feat. The hard part was landing on both feet without stepping to adjust her balance.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Fete vs. Feat

Easily Confused Words: Wind Shear vs. Windshield

Wind shear and windshield are easily confused terms.

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.

Wind shear (pronounced “wihnd sh-ear”) is a noun, it’s a meteorological (aka weather) term. It means the rate at which the wind changes direction, at how fast those changes are occurring.

Wind shear is annoying for people on the ground trying to keep their scarves or umbrellas from blowing away, but it can be deadly for aircraft trying to stay on course in stormy, or wintry, conditions. The lighter and smaller the aircraft, the more vulnerable it is to get whipped around by wind shear. Even heavier planes, like commercial flights, experience turbulence, which can happen in reaction to wind shear.

Windshield (pronounced “wihnd-shee-ld”; rhymes with repealed, revealed) is a noun. It means a curved pane of glass found on airplanes, powerboats, yachts, motorcycles and automobiles. Windshields protect the driver from wind resistance, precipitation, and airborne insects.

In the UK, they are called windscreens.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Windel noticed the rain slapping his windshield as he headed to the airport. He had a feeling his passengers would be angry when their holiday flights were delayed. Given today’s wind shear, though, it was likely impossible to fly into Chicago from Denver.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Wind Chill vs. Windshield

 

Easily Confused Words: Decisive vs. Divisive

Decisive and divisive 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.

Decisive (pronounced “dih-sigh-sihv”) is an adjective. It describes someone who can quickly make choices and move forward without doubt or deliberating.

For example:  I have a hard time being decisive with a restaurant menu. Everything looks so good!

Divisive (pronounced “dihv-eye-sihv”) is an adjective. It describes someone or something that is trying to create separations or rivalries among groups of people. Perhaps this division is intentional, like an individual that uses speech to claim one group is the “enemy.” Perhaps this division is unintentional, an individual takes a stance and others respond by agreeing with the stance, while others oppose, complain, or boycott that individuals efforts in retaliation.

Being divisive can be a lot like being polarizing, but polarizing means dividing into two extremes. Being divisive can lead to many more groups or factions. In being divisive, the goal is discord in general.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Devann had thought the key to winning the class election was to be decisive and come across as a man with a plan. It should have been an easy win. Devann was relatively well-known and well-liked.

But Declan, editor of the school paper, was making it a difficult campaign. He asked very hard questions at the debates. He wrote critical pieces about what needed to happen at the school, yet didn’t run himself. Devann felt he was being divisive, and it was motivated by his interest in Devann’s opponent, Devi.

Easily Confused Words: Apocryphal vs. Apothecary

Apocryphal and apothecary 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.

Apocryphal (pronounced “uh-pawk-ruh-fuhl”) is an adjective. It describes something untrue, dubious, doubtful.

Apothecary (pronounced “uh-pawth-uh-carry”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun. it’s an English word for pharmacist, who can prescribe, mix, and dispense drugs. The word “chemist” is also used.
    • In the US, pharmacists typically do not write prescriptions; doctors and high level nurses can do that. Pharmacists fulfill prescriptions that are brought to them, advise patients about using the medicine, and they can suggest over the counter, non-prescription remedies to customers.
  • As an adjective, it describes curvy glassware that has a vintage look and feel. Often there’s a knobbed cap or lid. Apothecary jars are used for decoration, storage, or to hold sweets.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Apollo felt a cold coming on, so he decided to visit his local apothecary. As he entered the store, he could hear a cranky, elderly woman telling a complicated, apocryphal story about the day she had. Then he realized he recognized the voice. Maybe he should try another shop.

Easily Confused Words: Boer vs. Boar

Boer and boar are easily confused words. They are also homophones, meaning they have the same sound, but they have different spellings and are pronounced differently.

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.

Boer (“bohr”) is a proper noun. As a proper noun, it means a specific person, place, thing, or idea, and consequently, it is always spelled with a capital “B” for its first letter. The Boers were the Dutch population living in South Africa. The Boer Wars took place from 1880-1881, and 1899-1902. Sometimes they are called the Anglo-Boer wars to reflect the two warring parties, the English and the Dutch, who were fighting over control of South Africa, where both had colonies since 1652.

If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, you may recall Bates and Lord Grantham fought in the Boer War. Bates was injured in helping Grantham during the war, and for that, Grantham feels indebted to Bates for life.

If you wish to learn more about the history of South Africa, check this site out.

Boar (“bohr”) is a noun. It has several meanings, both relating to pigs, or swine.

  • It can mean a pig that lives in the wild.
  • It can mean a male pig. Female pigs are called sows, babies are called piglets.

The following story uses both words correctly:

It was 1902, in the second Boer War. Bartel left his Afrikaners regiment after receiving significant nerve damage in the field. He subsisted off what he could find: leaves, ground squirrels, berries, and the occasional wild boar. It would be miles until he reached the coast on foot. He wasn’t sure he would survive. but he had to try to get to the coast, hop on a boat, and never see Southern Africa again.

This post relates to other posts: Easily Confused Words: Bore vs. Boar, Easily Confused Words: Board vs. Bored