Denizens and designs 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.
Denizens (pronounced “den-ih-zihns”) is the plural form of the noun “denizen.” Denizen can mean:
- An occupant or resident.
- An frequent customer at a bar or restaurant.
- A non-native species (plant or animal) that has adapted to a new environment. For example, tea and rice are denizen crops of the US southern colonies.
- In the UK, a resident alien that has some rights of citizenship, but not all of them.
So the plural form, denizens, indicates more than one of any of the above meanings.
Designs (pronounced “dee-sighnz”) has multiple meanings.
As the plural form of the noun “design:”
- It can mean another word for ideas, intentions, or plans.
- It can mean all the criteria involved in the look and feel of a product so that it appeals to any intended clientele or buyer.
- In architecture, interior design refers to use of space and the function of rooms and buildings. Sometimes interior decoration and interior design are used interchangeably but they aren’t quite the same thing. Click here to learn more.
- In fashion, it means the qualities that go into individual pieces of clothing in a given season. Every season, designers have to answer these type questions with every piece:
- What fabrics will be used?
- How fitted or loose will a garment be?
- What colors will it be available in?
- What prints will it be available in, if any?
- Will skirts flare or be pencil straight?
- How long or short will skirts be?
- How long will sleeves be?
- Will the sleeves be straight, will they taper, will they flare, will they be cuffed?
- How long will sleeves be?
- Will pants reach the top of the foot, or be above the ankle, or mid calf?
- Will the legs of pants be straight, taper, or flare from the thigh or knee?
- Will short pants be knee length or mid-thigh or shorter?
- Will the crotch closure on pants be a zipper or a series of buttons?
- What style of pockets on a jacket: patch or a slit?
- Will stitching and seams be very visible or unnoticeable?
These are all considerations for someone designing fashion for men, women, or both. Learn more about fashion industry seasons here.
As a verb:
- It means the planning, researching, and ideation activities in making something.
The following story uses both words correctly:
It was almost re-opening day. Denmark invited former denizens to come in and paint and sign the wall for better luck this time around. Six months ago, an oven hood fire had destroyed his restaurant. His school sports jerseys and other memorabilia had gone up in smoke.
He had taken over the space after graduating high school, using money left to him by his dad. Because of a brain aneurysm, Denmark Sr. didn’t get to open the restaurant he always dreamed of having in retirement. His son took up the task of making it happen, with his mother helping for the first few years.
When they first opened, Denmark hadn’t made many changes to the 1970s style interior. But now, having to start over from scratch, changing wasn’t optional. Thankfully, he was financially in a much better place than he was 10 years ago, but trying to restore the place to 40 year old styles would have been pricier than adapting to modern times.