Easily Confused Words: Chive vs. Chide

Chive and chide 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.

Chive (pronounced “cheye-v”) is a noun. It means the diced green stalks of spring onions. Chives are served in soup and atop fully loaded baked potatoes.

Chide (pronounced “cheye-d”) is a verb. It means to criticize and ridicule someone else.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Clive was chided by his coworkers. He overindulged in the cream cheese and chive dip at the office party. He reeked of onions for the rest of the day. His cubemates moved their laptops into the meeting room.

Easily Confused Words: Boolean vs. Bullion

Boolean and bullion 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.

Boolean (pronounced “boo-leen”) is an adjective. It is a mathematics, specifically, algebra. A boolean expression is a logical statement that is either true or false, you can read more about that here.

On the internet, a boolean search means phrase typed into an search engine that features conjunctions like “or” and “and.”

Bullion (pronounced “boo-lee-ahn”) is a noun. It means a mass of gold or silver. It can also mean corded embellishments on uniforms, or embroidery featuring gold or silver wire, or thread.

In the culinary world, bullion (also spelled boullion), can mean the bone broth created while cooking chicken, turkey, or beef.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Buona was ordering supplies online for her upcoming Feast of the Seven Fishes. She did a boolean search for the best fishmongers and butchers in her area. She wasn’t sure if she should get bullion cubes, boxed broth, fish sauce, or anchovies from their online marketplace, so she ordered all four.

Easily Confused Words: Stream vs. Steam

Stream and steam 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.

Stream (pronounced “streem”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a small tributary that trails off from a larger body of water.
  • As a verb, it means to view video and film via an internet connection.
  • As a verb, it means to flow like a stream.

Steam (pronounced “steem”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means vaporized water that rises from a pot of boiling water. This is an indicator the water is hot enough for boiling food for cooking, or using the water to make instant beverages.
  • As a verb, it can mean a cooking method that prepares vegetables, rice, or other food by using steam.
  • As a verb, it means a person feeling irritated or angry at someone or something.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Steele collected some from water from a nearby stream to make dinner. He wasn’t sure if it was potable, so he took it back to his campfire and brought it to a boil. Once the steam began to rise from his kettle, he knew it was ready. He pulled out the fish fillets he had prepared and dropped them in a portion of the boiling water. He also poured a cup of tea. 

Easily Confused Words: Bier vs. Beer

Bier and beer are easily confused words. They are also homophones, meaning they are pronounced 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.

Bier (pronounced “beer”) is a noun. It means a pedestal used to support a coffin or casket.

Beer (pronounced “beer”) is a noun. It means a fermented alcohol beverage made from yeast, hops, water, and malted barley. Newer beers that feature sorghum and millet (instead of barley) are gluten-free.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Auntie Beatrix had an unusual request in her will. Rather than a formal funeral, she insisted on a casual affair at the graveyard. Friends shared stories of things she’d done and the impact she’d made on their lives. When guests showed up to her burial, kegs of beer flanked both sides of the bier supporting her coffin. Once her remains were buried in six feet of earth, everyone threw seeds on top of the dirt. Months later, it was the only plot covered in wildflower blooms.

Easily Confused Words: Apocryphal vs. Apocalypse

Apocryphal and Apocalypse 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-pock-ruh-full”) is an adjective. It describes something of doubtful origins, truthfulness, or both, something phony or false. For example, you might use this word to describe fake news.

Apocalypse (pronounced “uh-pock-uh-lips”) is a noun. It means a massive state of disaster or destruction.

As a proper noun (spelled with a capitalized first letter), the Apocalypse means the end of the world in Christian religions. This is a final showdown of good and evil. It is based on events documented in the Book of Revelations in the New Testament of the Bible.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Apu was watching his twin toddlers and trying to review some documents for work. The documents were hard to concentrate on; they contained some apocryphal spelling and grammar errors. Thankfully the boys were occupied watching a cartoon in the other room.

Two hours later, Anzu his wife came home with dinner. She was taking night classes for an MBA. Laughter and screaming erupted from the boys room as she set down the bags and she kissed Apu hello.

“Have you checked on them in awhile?” Anzu asked.

“They were fine, they had a movie on.” Apu said.

She walked down the hall and discovered a scene out of a daycare apocalypse: toys all over the floor, marker drawings on the wall and on the boys’ faces, and the smell of dirty diapers. 

“Honey, can you come here?” she shrieked. It had already been a long day of work and school, and it was going to be a long night cleaning all this up.

Easily Confused Words: Perimeter vs. Parameter

Perimeter and parameter 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.

Perimeter (pronounced “per-ihm-uh-turr”) is a noun. It can mean the lines demarcating an area. In geometry, it means the borders of a 2D figure. It can also mean the length of all a polygon’s sides, or the outermost limits of a thing.

Parameter (pronounced “puh-ram-uh-turr”) is a noun. In general, it means a guideline, a boundary, or condition for a project or other undertaking. It can also mean a characteristic or factor that is influential of an outcome.

In mathematics, it means an independent variable in parametric equations, or a variable in a function that determines the form, but not the nature, of the function.

In statistics, a variable in a distribution whose value creates different outcomes in distribution.

In coding, it means a variable that requires a specific value for the execution of a program or a procedure within a program.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Parmenia wanted to redesign her condo before the summer arrived. She sought quotes from a variety of professionals. The interior designers asked for the perimeter measurements of each room. They also asked for project parameters, like her budget, time constraints, and color preferences.

Easily Confused Words: Deference vs. Difference

Deference and difference 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.

Deference (“deh-fur-unse”) is a noun. It means a display of reverence for someone else’s, or a group’s, opinion or viewpoint. Typically the person or group being shown deference has more experience, wisdom, seniority, or nobility that legitimizes why their opinion is important and must be heeded.

Difference (“dih-fur-unse”) is a noun. It can mean a perceivable result from a chosen course of action. In mathematics, it’s also the term for the answer in a subtraction problem.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Things were very uncomfortable in the department as of late. The new supervisor was taking some getting used to. He was constantly butting heads with his subordinates, all of whom had been there for years. For example, Darren wasn’t showing his new supervisor deference in decision making. He had been with the company much longer and knew how things would work, so it was awkward to make the adjustment for a new person in charge. Dabney, Darren’s friend in another department, suggested Darren ask the new supervisor for his viewpoint more often for the next two weeks. Dabney asked Darren to try this for two weeks, and then tell him if this new strategy made a difference in the relationship.