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Easily Confused Words: Nave vs. Navy

Nave and navy 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.

Nave (pronounced “nayv;” rhymes with brave, save, cave) is a noun. It is an architecture and interior design term for Christian church buildings (especially Catholic, Anglican and Episcopal denominations.) The nave is the center aisle and the main seating area of the church, it connects the narthex (entryway/foyer) to the sanctuary (the area where the clergy conduct the ceremony, where the altar is, etc.)

Navy (pronounced “nay-vee;” rhymes with wavy) is a noun with multiple meanings.

  • It can mean a deep blue-green or deep blue-purple color. Both shades are meant to resemble a stormy ocean, or the night sky, with their rich tone.
  • It can mean a branch of the military concerned with a country’s defense on the ocean. Historically, they have used technology like battleships, aircraft carriers, submarines to fulfill their duties, but computers, IT, and satellites are also in their arsenal. The US Navy was founded in Philadelphia in 1775, while the British Navy was founded in 1546.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Much to everyone’s surprise, heiress Nanette Pendergrass failed to show up for her high-profile wedding with Thomas Needles, a banking tycoon. The family sat for an hour in the nave waiting for her to appear. The chaffeur helped her leave the family estate the afternoon before, reporting for boot camp in the WAVES. Nanette had enlisted in the Navy in the hopes of seeing the world and finally being herself, not an heiress, not a bankers wife, just herself.

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Easily Confused Words: Anise vs. Anais

Anise and Anais 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.

Anise (pronounced “ann-ihss”) is a noun. It means an herb, related to parsley, that has a licorice-like flavor and aroma.

Anais (pronounced “uh-neye-ihs”/”uh-nay-uhss”) is a female name meaning “grace.” It is a Spanish version of the Hebrew name “Anna.” Anaïs Nin, author and lifelong diarist, made the name famous in the 1950s.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Twin sisters Anaïs and Antonia decided to bring their grandma chocolate anise cookies when she was in the hospital. Getting visitors really made her day.

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Easily Confused Words: Ernest vs. Earnest

Ernest and earnest 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.

Ernest (pronounced “uhrr-nihst”) is a male name adapted from German (Ernst.) It means serious and resolute. Famous people with this first name include author Ernest Hemingway.

In pop culture:

  • In the 1980s, a character named Ernest talked to the camera in Mello Yello soda ads, with the catchphrase, “You know what I mean, Vern?” This character went on to be featured in children’s movies, like “Ernest Saves Christmas,” “Ernest Goes to Camp,” “Ernest Goes to Jail,” and “Ernest Rides Again.”

Earnest (pronounced “uhr-nihst”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, it describes seriousness and commitment to task or purpose.
  • As a noun, like in the phrase “in earnest,” it means speaking or behaving in total seriousness.

The following story uses both words correctly:

In order to make an earnest attempt at getting published before 25, Ernest decided he would get up early every weekend morning and devoted 5 solid hours to writing.

But what should he write about? He didn’t have swashbuckling adventures or army ambulance driving experience to draw from, like his namesake. Maybe he would join the local paper and write about school issues to get some ideas.

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Easily Confused Words: Cabasa vs. Kielbasa

Cabasa and kielbasa 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.

Cabasa (“kuh-bahss-uh”) is a proper noun. It is the name of a handheld percussion instrument used in Latin and African music. It is chains of steel balls grate against a crimped or serrated steel track attached to a wooden disk with a handle on it. The player creates multiple sounds using different hand techniques. Check out this video. This instrument is an industrialized interpretation of a dried hollow gourd covered in a chain of wooden beads or shells, the shekere (“shay-khuh-ray,” see the video for pronunciation and a demo.)

Videos featuring a cabasa: La Bamba (sorry this one’s audio only), the late Daniel Rodriguez, Cabasa! by Mark Ford performance, and a cabasa mounted on a cajon (drum box.)

Kielbasa (pronounced “keel-bah-suh”) is a proper noun. It is a pork sausage seasoned with garlic, pimento, and cloves. It is originally from Poland. In the US, sometimes it is grilled and eaten with red rice or cabbage, sometimes it is sliced and incorporated into soups and stews. It is also referred to as Polish sausage.

In Poland, there are many more varieties of kielbasa offered.

The following story uses both words correctly:

After a long day playing in the streets of New Orleans, Cabell’s band was starved. He pulled some leftover jambalaya from the weekend out of the fridge and warmed it up. All the flavors of rice, seasoning, shrimp, kielbasa, and andouille melded together actually tasted even better a day later.

So, guys, can my younger brother Corey join the band on some gigs? “

“What does he play?”

“He’s been practicing the cajon and the cabasa pretty hard.”

“If our usual drummer can’t make it for some reason, you can call him. How about that?”

“Okay, I will let him know.”

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Easily Confused Words: Bedside vs. Beside

Bedside and beside 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.

Bedside (pronounced “bed-seyed”) has multiple meanings.

As a noun, it means attending to a sick or wounded person who is in bed. For example:

  • The former First Lady and his children were at his bedside when former President Besiz died.
  • Florence Nightingale got nicknamed “the Lady with the Lamp” because she appeared at soldier’s bedsides after dark to monitor their condition.

As an adjective, it describes something related to attending to someone else who’s ill or wounded. For example, a healthcare professional’s “bedside manner.” If a doctor listens to their patient, explains things that are unclear, and acts like the patient’s concerns matter, he/she is said to have a good bedside matter. If a doctor talks down to a patient, is abrupt, rude or dismissive of the patient, and just barks orders at him/her, then that person is said to have a bad bedside manner and lacks the personality characteristics needed to succeed in the role.

It can also describe accessories used near a bed. For example:

  • A bedside commode is a toilet for people with mobility issues that can’t get to a regular toilet in a bathroom.
  • A nightstand is a regular piece of bedside furniture in the West.

Beside (pronounced “bih-seyed;” deride, decide, denied) is a preposition, it is a word used to indicate location or time relative to other things in the sentence. “Beside” indicates something is next to something else, or needs to be next to something else. Here are some examples:

  • Please take off your shoes and place them beside the doorway.
  • Bobby thought about sitting beside Alice at lunch, but Nathan stole the opportunity for himself.
  • I think she left her phone beside the register.

To be “beside oneself,” “beside yourself,” or “beside myself,” is to be experiencing overwhelming emotion, either really good or bad, to the point of losing one’s senses.

A related form, “besides,” can be an adverb, or can be a preposition.

  • As an adverb, it is usually at the front of a sentence, like furthermore, moreover
  • As a preposition, it indicates being in addition to, or supplementary.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Bastet, a translator for the US Army, was badly hurt in an IED explosion. He would spend months in a hospital in Germany. His mother, already beside herself with grief from losing his older brother last year, flew overseas and stayed at his bedside until he woke up.

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Easily Confused Words: Gemma vs. Gamma

Gemma and Gamma 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.

Gemma (pronounced “jem-uh;”) is a first name for females. It is Italian for “gem,” meaning a precious stone like a diamond, emerald, ruby, sapphire, etc. An alternative spelling is Jemma.

Gamma (pronounced “gam-uh;” ) has multiple meanings.

  • It is the third letter of the Greek alphabet. Its symbol, “Γ” looks like a letter L flipped vertically.
    • It is featured in the symbols for Greek sororities, like Delta Gamma (ΔΓ) and Sigma Gamma Rho (ΣΓΡ), and fraternities like Alpha Gamma Rho (ΑΓΡ) and Kappa Kappa Gamma (ΚΚΓ). If you see a shirt or license plate frame with Greek letters on it, the owner is an alumni of one of these organizations.
    • Gamma is the highest frequency wave of light. It is the radioactive decay of atomic nuclei and it is very fast, moving at the speed of light. Gamma can penetrate every cell and bone in the human body, causing mutation of a person’s DNA and potentially death. Thankfully, Earth’s atmosphere prevents gamma rays from space to affect life on our planet. NASA uses satellites to study gamma ray activity in space; check out this magazine’s blog to learn more.
    • Gamma rays are used in cancer treatment to kill tumors and cancer cells. There is one example at this link. While X-rays, CT scans are also forms of radiation used in healthcare, they have a longer wavelength and are not as dangerous to the human body as gammas. X-rays are made by activating electrons, which is a different process than the creation of gamma rays.
    • In the pop culture, exposure to gamma rays are what caused Bruce Banner to gain superpowers. Following the event, he gained the power to become the Hulk, a very strong giant, when angry.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Gemma knew what she wanted to do when she grew up. She wanted to find a cure for cancer. She had watched her mother, Jamie, undergo treatment for brain cancer involving gemma rays. She was always very nauseous and tired after the treatment.

There had to be an easier way to be cured, Gemma thought, and I’m going to find it.

Easily Confused Words, Uncategorized

Easily Confused Words: Gait vs. Gate

Gait and gate are easily confused words. They are also homophones, meaning they sound the same, but they 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.

Gait (pronounced “gayt”) is a noun. It means the rhythm of walking and running. People and animals have them.

  • If you’ve ever had a leg injury, relearning your gait is part of the process of walking normally once again.
  • If you’ve ever watched a horse or dog race, the commentators’ may discuss an animal’s gait.

Gate (pronounced “gayt”) is a noun.

  • It means a door to a fence or other outdoor enclosure that delineates someone’s property.
  • It can also mean a security door that demands visitors use a keypad or a callbox to allow grant entry into a neighborhood. Before keypads and call boxes, a human gatekeeper would check for an access badge (sticker, plate, etc.) or make a phone call to the destination to verify entry is allowed by a visitor before allowing access. A gatekeeper typically had a booth or shelter in front of the gate.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Gatsby knew something was wrong the minute his horse left the gate. Sure enough, it had broken its back leg but was still attempting to run. It had an awkward gait that looked extremely painful with each step the horse made.