Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Iniquity vs. Ubiquity

Iniquity and ubiquity 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.

Iniquity (pronounced “ihn-ick-kwihtty”) is a noun. It means something possessing qualities of wickedness, debauchery, or sinfulness. For example, the seven deadly sins are a short list of iniquities: gluttony, greed, envy, lust, sloth, wrath, and pride.

Ubiquity (prnounced “”yoo-bih-kwihtty”) is a noun. It means something that is ever-present or widely available.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Initially during Rumspringa, Uriah expected iniquities around every corner in the outside world. Growing up, it had always been presented as a ubiquity, and a hard to resist one, at that. But now that he was experiencing it for himself, it wasn’t all that bad. And the opportunities were bigger. If anything was proving hard to resist and head back to the community, it was fear of missing out on that.

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Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Arcane vs. Arcade

Arcane and arcade 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.

Arcane (pronounced “arr-kayn;” rhymes with disdain, explain, insane) is an adjective. It describes something old and out of date, something that’s obsolete.

Arcade (pronounced “arr-kayd;” rhymes with dismayed) is a noun.

  • In architecture, it means a series of adjoining arches. There’s a list of these here.
    • In historic cities of the US, arcades were a hallway of stores & offices, a new trend in urban planning that flourished from 1890s-1930s. Here are some of the cities that have historic arcades:
    • In the 1970-90s, this could mean a room or hall of coin or token operated video game consoles. Pinball machines and merchandisers (one of many items encased in glass can be “grabbed” by robotically controlled arms within a short timeframe) also fit in this machine category. Sometimes these spaces are called penny arcades.

The following story uses both words correctly:

For Arkin, relating and using analogies was an easy way to relate to students as a young teacher. Twenty years into the job, though, this “relating” was getting harder. Students were finding his references to arcade video games and other 1980s culture to be arcane. They also seemed more indifferent to school than he recalled being at that age. It was time for new strategies to make the material engaging.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Abyss vs. Ibis

Abyss and Ibis 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.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Abyss (pronounced “uh-bihss”; rhymes with amiss) is a noun.

  • It can refer to a great expanse, gulf, chasm, or the universe. Something tangible or perceivable that is infinite and immeasurable.
  • More figuratively, it can refer to infinity of time.
  • Historically, it can refer to bodies of water underground or in the deepest depths of the ocean. It can mean how Christians describe the state of the world before their creation story begins: in a dark and hellish state.

Ibis (pronounced “eye-bihss”) is a noun. It means a wading shorebird with skinny scaled legs, long necks, and a long slender beak that arcs downward from their face. Ibises are larger than ducks, but shorter than cranes and flamingos.

Ibises tend to travel and graze in small groups in shallow water and in grasses. They can be found almost anywhere in subtropical and tropical climates, near marshes, swamps, and sources of freshwater. In suburban areas, they can be spotted on golf courses and freshly watered grasses.

The following story uses both words correctly:

In her Jon boat, Abilene canoed into the foggy abyss of a winter morning on the Ibbesossa swamp. It was three weeks in to her photo assignment, she was running out of time to capture images of all the creatures she wanted. Today would hopefully be the day she could get a shot of the elusive black ibis.

[Ibbesossa is not a real place, but this link takes you to an ibis video on Youtube.]

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Molt vs. Mold

Molt and mold are easily confused words.

Molt (pronounced “mowlt;” rhymes with bolt, colt, dolt, jolt) is a verb. It is an ornithology (bird) term. It means to shed feathers in order to make room for new ones. Wild birds molt twice a year–they grow spring feathers at the end of the winter for their mating and reproducing season, then at summer’s end grow fall and winter feathers to survive harsher weather, less sunlight, and less ample food supply.

In tropical climates, birds molt, but their feathers don’t change colors.

Domestic and domesticated birds also molt.

Mold (pronounced “mowld;” rhymes with fold, bold, old, cold) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a bacterial growth on rotting food. For example, if fresh fruit is left in a dark and damp environment, it can easily grow mold. This appears white and fuzzy patches.
  • As a noun, in pottery, it can mean a container used to shape clay into a final product with a specific design. In baking, molds are also used to shape fondant for cake decorations, or shape cookie or cake batter into a desired shape.
  • As a verb, it means to shape or sculpt something with one’s hands. Clay forms and hairstyles are things that can be molded.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Malý was molding feathers out of fondant for a special occasion cake. This was his business, but this cake was celebrating an atypical occasion: a woman was being released from rehab and starting her life over.

The theme was a phoenix, so it needed to appear that a fiery colored bird appeared to be molting old faded feathers and ash as it resurrected itself.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Denizens vs. Designs

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.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Extricate vs. Intricate

Extricate and Intricate 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.

Intricate (pronounced “ihn-trih-kiht”) is an adjective. It describes something complicated, highly detailed, hard to understand, or something having many parts.

Extricate (pronounced “ex-trih-kayt”) is a verb.

  • It can mean to release a person or animal from capture or bondage.
  • It can mean to release gas or liquid from a chemical combination.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Two hours in, Enton was regretting choosing an extreme escape room for a first date. There was no way they would have time to get some food and see a movie tonight. What the hell was Morse code and wasn’t that a little too intricate for these type amusements? 

Then his flashlight waved over the wall and what looked like a utility box. Ixora opened it and found a guide to Morse code. She smiled at him. Things were looking up.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Sarsparilla vs. Sassafras

Sarsparilla and sassafras 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.

Sarsparilla (pronounced “sarr-spuh-rihl-uh”) it means a climbing vine with lily-like flowers that grows in the warmer parts of the Americas. Its extract has been used for medicinal purposes. Check out this blogpost, and this one, to learn more.

Sassafras (pronounced “sass-uh-frass”) is a proper noun with multiple associations.

  • It can mean a mountain located in the northwest corner of South Carolina, a state in the US South.
  • It can mean a deciduous tree. It is recognizable by its leaves; they are mostly three-lobed with two lobed ones nearer the root. This tree flourishes in the US South, but can also be found in Maine, the US Midwest, and southern Canada. This is a flavoring used for root beer in the 1800s, but was later determined to be a carcinogen and capable of causing nerve damage in animals. A lot of today’s root beer uses imitation extracts to create a similar herbal flavor.
    • Sassafras is also used in elicit (illegal) drugs like ecstasy.
    • To learn more, check out a blog dedicated to tree-based extract sodas here.
    • If you are on a Route 66 roadtrip, check out Pops Soda Ranch of Arcadia, Oklahoma, it is a diner and a shrine to all things soda.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Sassandra ran a soda fountain and apothecary in Sashoma, Florida. Some kids were at the counter, sipping sarsaparilla and amaretto syrup sodas.

“Is it true Sassafras can make you feel funny?”

“It certainly does, and it’s not that funny. Where did you hear that?”

“Some older kids. They said were going to a dance at an old barn building on Route 27.”

“I need you to stay away from those kids. Some people let partying run their whole life, they accomplish nothing, they can’t support themselves. You don’t want to be those people.”

“We hear you, Miss Sassandra.”