Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Willow vs. Wallow

Willow and wallow 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.

Willow (pronounced “wihl-oh”; rhymes with pillow)

  • As a noun, it can mean a type of tree that grows in wetlands and near waterways. Willow’s trademark is long slender branches that form a drooping canopy around the trunk. Willows are described as weeping because the branches resemble a heavy rain downpour or a streams of falling tears. Check out a slideshow here. By the way, to attach human behaviors or characteristics to a plant, object, or animal is personification.
  • As a noun, it can also be a first name for a female.

Wallow (“wahl-oh”; rhymes with swallow, hollow, follow) is a verb.

  • It can mean to roll around or laze about. For example, pigs, hippos, and elephants wallow in mud to stay cool in summer.
  • In the figurative sense, it can means to intensely dwell or sulk in negative emotions, like sadness or anger.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Wilson was wallowing in misery after getting dumped by his first girlfriend. His father, Winslow, founded him listening to his headphones behind the branches of a willow tree.

“Look, Wil, I know this is hard. But I need you, and more importantly, you need you to get past this. It’s not that it doesn’t hurt, it does, but you can’t waste days sulking about it. Find an activity. Get interested in something.”

“Like what?”

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Winnow vs. Willow.

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Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Alison vs. Allicin

Alison and allicin 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.

Alison (pronounced “al-ih-suhn”) is a noun.

  • It is a female first name that means “noble;” it is related to the name Alice.
    • Other spellings include Allyson, Allison, Alysun, Alisun, and Alisson.
    • Famous people with this name: Allison Brie, Allison Janney
  • Allison can also be a surname of English and Scottish origin.

Allicin (pronounced “al-lih-sihn”) is a noun. It is a chemical produced by crushing fresh garlic cloves. It has antibacterial properties, and it responsible for garlic’s unique potent scent.

The following story uses both words correctly:

When Alison complained she was getting a cold, her friend Ellie suggested she use allicin to relieve it. Ellie told her to cut up garlic cloves and spread it on toast with olive oil.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Poise vs. Porpoise

Poise and porpoise 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.

Poise (pronounced “poyz”; rhymes with boys, toys, noise) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a state of balance or equilibrium, or displaying a state of calm confidence and stillness in the presence of others.
  • As a verb, it means balancing an object, or holding a tool, weapon ready for striking or casting.
  • As a verb, it means standing ready to act, literally or figuratively.
  • As a verb, it means to hover, or fly in place, like a bird.

Porpoise (pronounced “pohr-puhss”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a small toothed whale with a blunt nose found in coastal waters around the world. Porpoises are smaller than dolphins. Here is a video about porpoises.
  • As a verb, it means to burst through the water’s surface and fall again (like a porpoise) with a boat or other marine vehicle.
    • It can also refer to an overloaded car repeatedly lurching forward as it rides down the street.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Porter watched the porpoises playing in the waters in the harbor. A member of the Coast Guard, he and his team were poised to respond to any suspicious activity or badly operated vehicles on the water. So far, nothing unusual was happening today in the Gulf.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Permeate vs. Permanent

Permeate and permanent 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.

Permeate (pronounced “puhr-mee-ate”) is a verb.

  • It can mean to transmit or get through multiple places in a surface, to penetrate
  • It can mean to have presence throughout something else.

Permanent (pronounced “puhr-muh-nihnt”) is a noun with multiple meanings.

  • It can mean unerasable and ever-present, like some markings and tattoos.
  • It can mean existing in a space for the forseeable future, an undomitable presence, like a conquering army
  • In cosmetology, it can mean a chemical treatment for hair designed to make the hair retain a consistent curly texture for months at a time. Here, permanent is short for “permanent wave.”

The following story uses both words correctly:

Pamela gave herself a perm from a drugstore kit in her dorm room. She hadn’t told her roommates or her suitemates her plan, so this was a horrible smell to come home to. The smell of the hair chemicals permeated their living space for days. Pernella, Pippa, and Phoebe all complained of headaches. Pernella packed a bag and slept at a friend’s place.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Wiring vs. Wring

Wiring and wring 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.

Wiring (pronounced “why-rihng”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means the act of setting up electrical connections in a residence or in a device.
  • As a noun, it means the electrical connections that exist in a house or device.
  • As a noun, in a more figurative sense, it means how one person’s brain works versus another, or what aptitudes or skills one person has versus one or more other people.

Wring (pronounced “rihng”) is a verb. It means to twist and crush something to get the water out.

Typically humans wring out:

  • dripping wet laundry
  • a wet dish cleaning cloth or other cleaning cloth
  • dipping wet long hair on his/her head, either by twisting the hair itself, or twisting it in a towel.

Dogs wring themselves out by twisting their head and back to and fro, this force their loose skin to thrash the water droplets off their fur.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Wyrick wanted to check out the wiring in his cell phone that wasn’t working. The best lighting in their cramped apartment was in the kitchen so he was standing over the counter with a tiny screwdriver. Unfortunately his partner, Will, noticed the washer had stopped working and he was trying to wring out soaking wet clothes in the kitchen sink.

Wyrick said, “Could you do that in the bath? I need to fix my phone.”

“Oh sure man, sorry. We might need to go buy a washer later.”

“Thanks.”

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Wring vs. Ring.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Teethe vs. Tithe

Teethe and tithe 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.

Teethe (pronounced “tee-thuh”; rhymes breathe, seethe) is a verb. It means to start grow teeth in the gums. It happens to babies in the first six months of their lives. The gums are itchy or sore as this happens, so babies cry and crave opportunities to chew things during this time.

Tithe (pronounced “tie-thuh”; rhymes with blithe, lithe) is a verb.

  • It can mean to donate a 10% portion of income to a church one belongs to.
  • It can mean a ten percent donation, levy, or tax.
  • It can mean to demand a tithe from an individual.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Teegan was unable to make a tithe to her church this month. Her new baby was teething and going through a fussy period, and she couldn’t find a sitter.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Oddly vs. Oddity

Oddly and oddity 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.

Oddly (pronounced “aw-dlee”) is an adverb. Like many adverbs, it ends in “-ly,” but this isn’t a requirement to be an adverb. Adverbs modify verbs or nouns.

  • A common phrase is “oddly enough.” In this phrase, enough is a noun, and by adding “oddly,” the speaker is saying a particular situation is remarkably weird and/or surprising for him/her.

Oddity (pronounced “awd-ih-tee”; rhymes with commodity) is a noun.

  • It can mean a strange or weird person, place or thing.
    • For example, David Bowie’s 1969 album “Space Oddity,” featuring a song by the same title.
  • It can mean a strange or weird characteristic or trait of a person, place, or thing.
  • It can mean a strange or weird event or happening.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Oddly enough, Odelia didn’t realize the flowers were for her, recognizing her recent Pulitzer prize award. The office never received flowers, so their arrival was an oddity, but she wasn’t paying them any mind. She had also been working for 40 years, and always brought the same intense commitment to each piece, so one being singled out for excellence was surprising and felt a little awkward at the same time.