Easily Confused Words: Forlorn vs. Forewarn

Forlorn and forewarn 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.

Forlorn (pronounced “four-lohrnn”; rhymes with born, torn, corn) is an adjective. It describes feelings of sadness, loss, and hopelessness, and sometimes, all of the above. In the US, classic country music has a forlorn quality; the singer or songwriter has lost love or lost everything.

Forewarn (pronounced “four-wohrn”) is a verb. It means to caution someone else about danger, a problem, or other conflict that he/she doesn’t see coming, or appear to be worried about.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Forrest was sad to his friend Felipe so forlorn, but he kept his distance. He had tried to forewarn his friend about characters he was involved with that couldn’t be trusted. Felipe had been naive and he hadn’t listened to Forrest’s attempts to tip him off. The consequences had been predictable and painful to watch.

Easily Confused Words: Scabbard vs. Scarab

Scabbard and scarab 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.

Scabbard (pronounced “scab-uhrd”) is a noun. It is a sleeve or sheath for holding a sword.

Scarab (pronounced “scare-uhb”) is a noun.

  • It is a species of beetle. A sacred symbol in ancient Egyptian art and artifacts, it represents immortality and regeneration. These ideas were personified as the god Khepri, who had the head of a scarab.
  • It can mean a gem or stone cut to resemble a beetle.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Dr. Scott couldn’t believe his luck. On day 30 of his excavation, one of his students found the scabbard of a high-ranking Egyptian soldier. It was embellished with intricate carvings and sparkled with carved gems resembling scarabs. Hopefully the sword itself would be found as well. 

Easily Confused Words: Skeptical vs. Spectacle

Skeptical and spectacle 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.

Skeptical (pronounced “skehp-tih-kuhl”) is an adjective. It describes someone who doesn’t believe what he/she sees or hears, someone who tends to ask questions or be critical. For example, being a journalist often requires a person to be skeptical and curious.

Spectacle (pronounced “spehk-tih-kuhl”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, it describes an event or happening coming into view or placed before one’s eyes.
  • As an adjective, it also describes an impressive display, or an elaborate show, a remarkable event meant to wow onlookers.
  • The plural noun, spectacles, means the glasses worn by a person for better vision.
  • In the idiom “make a spectacle,” someone is drawing attention to themselves to get attention, be a topic of gossip, or both.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Scarlett was skeptical. Her friends were raving about a boy band concert. They insisted she had to go too, because it promised to be quite the spectacle, and everyone would be there. 

 

Easily Confused Words: Empire vs. Umpire

Empire and umpire 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.

Empire (pronounced “emm-pie-uhr”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, in government: it means a large area of lands or multiple countries ruled by an emperor. History has known many empires: The British Empire, the Napoleonic (French) Empire, the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Egyptian Empire, just to name a few. Today, only Japan’s monarch is called Emperor in the English language. Most other countries with monarchs are referred to that person as King, Queen, Prince, or another title.
  • As an adjective, in fashion: it describes a dress style that became popular in the early 1800s in England, Western Europe, and the US. The waistband is positioned not at the actual waist, but slightly above the waist; sometimes, right under the breast area. [In French, this is called an “awmm-peer” waist.]. Cutting dresses and tops with this “above natural waist” trait is still common in women’s fashion.
  • As a noun, in business: a corporation with a lot of divisions, or a person with a lot of business or branding interests under their leadership can be described as an empire.
  • As a proper noun, in US pop culture: “Empire” is a successful television show about a fictional recording corporation and the drama experienced by the people involved.

Umpire (pronounced “umm-pie-uhr”) has multiple meanings, but they relate to the sport of baseball.

  • As a verb, it means to make calls in baseball.
  • As a noun, it means the role in baseball of the person who makes the calls.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Umberto had built quite an empire for himself a music producer in just five short years. Now it wasn’t just music, it included fashion, home interiors, liquor, and resort brands. He liked his work, it was glamorous, the money was excellent.

But one of his favorite things was playing umpire for local little league team tournaments. No one knew it was him. He used an alias name and dressed incognito to avoid upstaging the kids.

Easily Confused Words: Procure vs. Peculiar

Procure and peculiar 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.

Procure (pronounced “proh-kyoor”) is a verb. It means to buy, or to arrange a purchase.

Peculiar (pronounced “peh-kyool-yuhr”) is an adjective. It describes something odd, weird, or unconventional.  In the 1965, Marvin Gaye had a pop song “Ain’t That Peculiar?”. The song is about a man loving a woman more each time she treats him badly. The refrain expresses bewilderment at his affections, because they don’t add up with how he’s being treated.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Panya was ordering a new shipment for his company’s supply lines. His usual administrator was on leave, and someone new was filling in.

A copy of the list of materials to procure was in Panya’s inbox. He skimmed over it, and noticed the codes for the desired materials looked peculiar. He compared it to last year’s orders of the same equipment. Sure enough, the new list was totally wrong.

 

Easily Confused Words: Pleats vs. Plates

Pleats and plates 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.

Pleats (pronounced “pleetz”) is the plural form of the noun pleat. It means a folded piece of fabric with consistent width, often sewed in place at the top and then ironed into place. Perhaps the most famous pleats are those seen on Scottish kilts, and plaid skirts worn for school uniforms. But pleats can also appear on the front of pants and shorts between the fly and the pockets.

Plates (pronounced “playtz”) is the plural form of the noun plate.

  • It can mean a flat dish used by a person to eat a meal. Plates can be made of porcelain, china, styrofoam, paper, etc.
  • It can mean a meal or snack portion of food.
  • In seismology, tectonic plates that shift beneath the surface of the earth and occasionally collide and rub together. These collisions cause earthquakes. Click the link to learn more.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Pleasance had planned every last detail for her someday perfect wedding. From the pleats in her going away dress to the design on her wedding china plates, she had really thought of everything. 

This post relates to other posts: Easily Confused Words: Platte vs. Plait, Easily Confused Words: Plates vs. Plaits

Easily Confused Words: Concert vs. Consort

Concert and consort 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.

Concert (pronounced “kawn-suhrt”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a live musical performance by a singer, a band, or an orchestra, performed for a large audience.
  • As an adjective, it describes places used to perform concerts: concert hall, concert arena, concert auditorium, etc.
  • As a verb, it means to coordinate, arrange, design, or plan something, especially a tough agreement with high stakes, or a project with a lot of moving parts or details.
  • In the idiom, “in concert” it means to perform or act in rhythm or harmony with others. This can be literally, like in synchronized swimming or dancing, or figuratively, when people work well together in complicated, team-effort jobs.

Consort (pronounced “kawn-sawrt”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun. It means the spouse of a reigning king, queen, or emperor. Typically the consort is the one who married into a reigning family, they are lower in rank to their spouse.  It can also mean a companion.  It can mean a device that acts as a companion to a larger entity: a consort ship.
  • As a verb, it means to accompany, or keep someone else company.

The following story uses both words correctly:

The symphony eagerly anticipated performing a concert for the Queen and her Prince Consort. They practiced for months in preparation for this event.