Easily Confused Words: Drizzle vs. Dazzle

Drizzle and dazzle 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.

Drizzle (pronounced “drih-zuhl”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to pour very hard and persistently, like heavy rain.
  • As a verb, it can also mean to pour a liquid generously over a surface. Imagine pouring maple syrup over pancakes, or hot fudge over a bowl of ice cream.
  • As a noun,

Dazzle (pronounced “da-zuhl”; rhymes with frazzle) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to really impress or bowl over someone. This can be with memorable behavior, gifts, displays or gestures.
  • A related adjective, “dazzling”, describes someone or something with an amazing quality.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Diza aimed to dazzle the application board at an Ivy League school. She applied early. She had a cornucopia of extracurricular activities, both charitable and recreational. She played the cornet. She was also an accomplished volleyball and golf player. Sure enough, she was accepted quickly. Her letter arrived one afternoon, just as the rain started to really drizzle. She didn’t care, she ran for the mailbox and opened the envelope right there.

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Easily Confused Words: Utensil vs. Tinsel

Utensil and tinsel 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.

Utensil (pronounced “yoo-tihn-suhll”) is a noun. It means a tool used to facilitate a task. Most of the time, it’s a way of collectively talking about the forks, spoons, and knives used for eating in Europe and the Western Hemisphere. In plastic picnicware, this means the sporks (forked spoons)

Tinsel (pronounced “tihn-suhl”) is a noun.

  • It means the silver plastic threads that are used to decorate Christmas trees.
  • It can also mean metallic cloth thread, which often spins the plastic metal strands with black fabric threads.
  • It can also mean very thin pieces of metal used to create a shimmering effect cheaply.
  • TRIVIA: An older nickname for Hollywood, CA is “Tinseltown.”

The following story uses both words correctly:

Tennyson was almost ready for a Christmas dinner party for her staff. The room glistened with tinsel, and it was filled with an aroma of warm spices. She had asked her assistant to bring disposable utensils. 

Tania burst through the door, soaking wet. “Man it’s really pouring out there.” She removed her coat and hat.

Tennyson asked, “I don’t see a bag. Did you bring the utensils?” 

“Oh no, I forgot. I will be right back.”

Then Lacey came in, holding a box of utensils. ” I had a hunch you would need extra.”

Tania gave Lacey some side-eye and scowled.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Tinsel vs. Tensile

Easily Confused Words: Extinct vs. Instinct

Extinct and instinct 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.

Extinct (pronounced “ex-tihnkt”) is an adjective. It describes the complete depletion of a species. It no longer exists, and it cannot be brought back to life or reintroduced.

Instinct (pronounced “ihn-stihnkt”) is a noun. It means the behaviors animals rely on for survival. “Instinctive” is the related adjective, “instinctively” is the adverb.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Everlyse was narrowing down her choices of what to study in college. It was coming down to preventing more species of trees from becoming extinct, or studying animal behaviors and instincts as a field researcher. 

Easily Confused Words: Are vs. Ate

Are and ate 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.

Are (pronounced “arr”; rhymes with tar) is a verb, it’s the “you,” “we,” and “they” form of “to be”.

Ate (pronounced “eht”; rhymes with late, eight, fate) is the past tense form of “eat.”

  • I ate collards at New Years, now I’ve won the lottery.
  • You ate too much, that’s why your stomach hurts.
  • He ate his body weight in crab legs at the Calabash seafood spot. 
  • We ate at Ronaldo’s for prom.
  • They ate shrimp and grits and pimiento cheese sandwiches for brunch.

The following story uses both words correctly:

“Armande, you ate my last Toblerone?!”

“I don’t know what you are talking about, Amanda.”

“There was only one left, and you’re the only one here. You ate it.” They had been a present mailed from her brother far away. She was looking forward to that one last piece. Now that hope had been dashed.

 

Easily Confused Words: Clam vs. Claim

Clam and claim 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.

Clam (pronounced “klamm”; rhymes with “lamb,” “dam”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun. It means a bivalve type of shellfish. It has two identical shells attached by a joint on the outside, and muscles and ligaments on the inside. The muscles and ligaments on the inside are part of a soft, wet body that siphons food from the ocean floor. For human consumption, clams are steamed until they pop open, or their soft interior is pulled out for deep frying or sauteeing.
  • As a verb, it means to dig for clams.
  • “Clam diggers” is a style of shorter pants, like today’s capris, that resemble the style of pants a person who clams would wear, also called “pedal pushers.”
  • In the idiom “happy as a clam”
  • In the idiom “clam up,” it means to refuse to talk.
  • In American slang, “clam” was a euphemism for money in the 20th century.

Claim (pronounced “clay-mm”; rhymes with “same”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means to provide an account of events, usually when there’s a grievance or dispute involved.
  • As a verb, it means to make the account of events verbally or in writing.
  • As a noun, it means a request for reimbursement or repairs that’s submitted to a health, car, or property insurance company.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Claiborne got sick at the party. The morning after, he claimed it was not due to tequila shots, but food poisoning from undercooked clams and oysters. 

“Whatever you say, Clay…” said his younger sister, Clairee.

 

Easily Confused Words: Sicily vs. Cecily

Sicily and Cecily 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.

Sicily (pronounced “sis-uh-lee”) is a proper noun. It means one of two islands of the Italian peninsula. Sicily is closer to land than its sister island, Sardinia.

As a proper noun, Sicily is always spelled with a capital S. It’s people and cultural items are Sicilian, and also spelled with a capital S.

Cecily (pronounced “sis-uh-lee”, sometimes “sess-uh-lee”) is a noun. It’s a feminine name. Sometimes it is short for “Cecelia,” sometimes it stands on its own.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Sigmund was devastated to be left by his fiancee the night before the wedding. At the rehearsal dinner, Cicely failed to show up. She left a note saying she couldn’t go through with it, and she was already on the road with someone else from college.

So no wedding. He used the honeymoon tickets to get out of town and regroup. And that’s why he was here in Sicily, on a clear and beautiful night having drinks by himself. That is, until Samar came up and introduced herself. Suddenly, things were looking up.

Easily Confused Words: Scare vs. Scarce

Scare and scarce 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.

Scare (pronounced “sk-yair”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to inspire terror in someone else or a creature. Maybe his/her eyes grow wide, he/she lurches or jumps backward, maybe he/she screams.
  • As a noun, it means an event where someone or some creature experiences terror.
  • In the idiom “scare up,” it means to discover or locate resources.

Scarce (pronounced “sk-yair-ss”) is an adjective.

  • It describes something that is in a small or rapidly disappearing quantity. For example, Before a bad storm, the milk, bottled water, and bread becomes scarce at the grocery store.
  • In the idiom “make myself scarce,” it means to disappear or lay low to avoid attention.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Skanawati was on a hunting mission in a scarce, harsh winter. It was his first year hunting in the wild, and his aim wasn’t as sharp as his older siblings. One had been wounded in battle, the other was sick, so it was up to him to bring back an animal or animals.

After sitting still in the dark for hours, he was getting bored and tired. Suddenly, he heard a noise that scared him. It was a young moose coming to get a drink of water. He raised his bow and arrow and took a shot. He hit the animal on its back. It took a few more shots before it stumbled to the ground.

It would take hours to drag the animal home by himself. But when he got there, his family was delighted to see him.