Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Reputable vs. Repudiate

Reputable and repudiate 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.

Reputable (pronounced “rep-yuh-tuh-buhl”) is an adjective. It describes someone who comes highly recommended, someone with a lot of integrity, someone that does a great job at the things he/she undertakes.

For example:

  • Yelp and Zomato use crowdsourcing to connect new diners with the most reputable restaurants in their current area. Criteria includes excellent food, attentive service, and an appealing atmosphere.
  • Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor use crowdsourcing to connect homeowners with house repair and utility professionals, like reputable plumbers, gutter cleaners, and home remodeling contractors.

Repudiate (pronounced “ruh-pew-dee-ate”) is a verb. It means to negatively respond to offers or claims by others.

For example:

  • A local Roman Catholic clergyman repudiated claims by a woman that he was her father. A DNA test proved she was correct.
  • The defendant in a murder trial repudiated claims that she murdered her spouse. A money trail and a hired assailant proved she was guilty and stood to make a lot of money from a life insurance claim on her partner in the event that person died.

The following story uses both words correctly:

“Who is this Rodriguez guy? When has he served? He has no experience. He’s not reputable!” Reggie could feel his blood pressure rising. His daughter’s new boyfriend, Gerard, was asked to dinner and being an outspoken guest. Gerard had fiercely held viewpoints for a young man of 25. He repudiated every one of Reggie’s points about candidate Thomason, and Reggie wasn’t used to the pushback.

“A lot’s changed in 40 years, Mr. Johnson. The parties aren’t almost the same. That may have been true for a long time, but it’s not anymore. Thomason is giving away the store and lying to people about it. Mrs. Johnson, thank you for making a lovely dinner, but I’ve lost my appetite. I think I should leave for now.”

He turned to his girlfriend. “Good night, Regina. I’ll see you tomorrow at class.”

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Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Dregs vs. Drugs

Dregs and drugs 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.

Dregs (pronounced “dr-eggs;” rhymes with begs, eggs, legs, kegs) is a noun. It is a winemaking word.

  • Literally, the dregs are the sedimentary grape bits at the bottom of a wine cask.
  • More figuratively, dregs is used to indicate something or someone at the bottom or lowest level, or the remnants or last drops of something.

In pop culture:

  • I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs, from the brim to the dregs, it pours sweet and clear, it was a very good year.” A Very Good Year,” covered by Frank Sinatra in 1966.

Drugs (pronounced “druhgs;” rhymes with hugs, thugs, bugs, tugs) is a plural noun.

  • It can refer to prescription drugs, which must be ordered by a doctor and picked up at a pharmacy.
  • It can refer to everyday remedies, called OTC medicine, which stands for “over the counter.” Headache, cold, allergy, and indigestion medicines typically fall in this category. However, due to the meth epidemic (1980s-present), pills containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine are no longer on the shelf. They often have to be requested by store staff, they require photo ID to purchase, and a signature.
  • It can refer to illegal or illicit drugs. In the US, this includes drugs like marijuana, cocaine, meth, and heroin. [In US history, alcohol was an illicit drug from 1920-1933, but this law was repealed when the policy was determined to be a failure. Alcohol is a drug but it is legally penalized when a person drinks too much and causes violent harm to others, damages property, or both.]
  • More figuratively, it can mean anything that dramatically changes how a person feels. For example, in pop music, love is likened to a drug, like in “Love Is the Drug,” by Roxy Music in 1975.
  • In the phrase “on drugs,” one person is accusing another of acting in a way that’s abnormal or not in his/her right mind. Asking someone else if they are high, on crack, etc. is a similar meaning.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Drummond was suspicious that someone on his staff was on drugs when several casks turned up emptied of wine, with just the dregs remaining. They needed to be ready for a busy wedding gift season ahead and couldn’t afford to lose inventory. He stepped up security measures on his property. But ultimately it was a phone call that tipped him off.

“Hey Dru, did you authorize your staff to sell inventory unlabeled? I am a sommelier at D’artagnans. They said we had something new and it tastes just like your Thoroughbred Red. When I asked how we got it they said a blonde woman had brought it by.”

Oh no. Debbie? It was hard to learn that one of his hardest working staffers had bottled some wine and sold it to get extra cash. When he confronted her about it, she teared up in humiliation. He learned it wasn’t drugs, but a family gambling problem that had gotten out of hand. It was really hard, but he had to let her go.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Aspen vs. Aspic

Aspen and aspic 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.

Aspen (pronounced “asp-ihn”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a deciduous tree species. It has teardrop shaped leaves that have serrated edges. The stems of the leaves are flat rather than tubular. As a result, when the wind blows, the leaves move can wave in all directions. Check out a video here. in fall, aspen leaves turn saffron yellow or shades of orange. These trees are native to the US Plains and Midwest. They also grow across Canada and Mexico.
  • As a proper noun, it means a town in the center of the US western state of Colorado. Aspen is popular for skiing in winter.

Aspic (pronounced “asp-ick”) is a noun. It is a food word. It means a gelatin-based dish served cold. It is made from meat stock and gelatin, and it also includes vegetables, herbs, and pieces of meat or fish. In the US, it was a popular dinner item in the 1950s-1960s, but then fell out of fashion.

  • It is made from meat stock and gelatin, and it also includes vegetables, herbs, and pieces of meat or fish. In the US, it was a popular dinner item in the 1950s-1960s, but then fell out of fashion. Aspics are molded in a ring, fish, or other metal pan shape as they cool.
  • Tomato aspic is served at summer picnics and luncheons. Check out a recipe here.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Aspasia looked perplexed at the offerings on the table. She and some friends met at a local park in Aspen for a spring picnic.

“What is that?”

Leksi said, “Kholodet, it’s a vegetable aspic we had back in Ukraine. Have you never had one before?”

“I can’t say that I have.” Aspasia lifted a wedge of it onto her plate. She was’t expecting to like it.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Rind vs. Rhine

 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.

Rind (pronounced “ryend;”rhymes with kind, hind, find, bind) is a noun. It is the hard exterior of aged cheese, or cheese that’s coated in wax.

Rhine (pronounced “ryenn;” rhymes with wine, fine, mine, sine, line) is a proper noun. It means a major river of central Europe. It starts in Switzerland, winds through Germany, and empties into the North Sea.

  • Rhine wine is grown in this region of Europe. It is white, light, and sweet compared to other white wines like Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, which are dry.
  • The rhinestone, a white gemstone used a cheaper alternative to diamonds, come from this river.

The following story uses both words correctly:

After taking a sip of Rhine wine and nibbling the rind off a piece of Brie, Rinaldo felt pretty lucky to be working in the river cruise business. He met new people all the time. He ate better than he ever had back in Cadiz. After graduating school it was assumed he would go to work, but he just started walking one afternoon, found a bus stop, hopped on and just kept going until he was in France, then Germany.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Shallot vs. Charlotte

Shallot and Charlotte 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.

Shallot (pronounced “shal-uht;” rhymes with mallet, pallet) is a noun. It is a food word. It means a small relative of the onion, usually about 1/3 size of a red onion, and pearl onions are even smaller. A shallot has a brown papery peel and thick purple-red skin underneath. Check out a video of cooking with shallots here.

Charlotte (pronounced “shARR-luhrt;” rhymes with scarlet) has multiple meanings.

  • It can mean a chilled cake-looking dessert. Cookies, spongecakes, biscuits line a springform pan, and the inner circle is filled with custard, cheesecake, fruit, whipped cream, gelatin, or a combination of these ingredients. Check out a video of one being made here.
  • It is a female name from the French language, it is related to the masculine name “Charles.”
    • Famous Charlottes include young Princess Charlotte (UK), Charlotte Bartholdi (the model for the Statue of Liberty), Charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlotte Tilbury, and the spider in EB White’s novel Charlotte’s Web.
  • As a proper noun:
    • it is a major city in the southern US state of North Carolina. It was named after George III’s wife, Queen Charlotte. Check out a video about the city here.
    • Charlotte Russe is the name of a trendy fashion store in US malls that targets the 15-25 age groups.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Charlotte was running behind in making a dream dinner for her new love interest, Rory. So she called in a favor from Claude, who arrived in 10 minutes.

“Ok, I’m here to help, Charlotte, what do you need?”

Can you cut the shallots? If I do it my mascara will run and I don’t have time to redo my eye makeup at this point.

“You’ve got it. If I have a hot date I’m cooking for in the future, you have to be backup for me.”

“Oh, of course!”

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Either vs. Ether

Either and ether 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.

Either (pronounced US: “ee-thuhr; ” rhymes with neither (“knee-thur”), teether, seether UK: pronounced “eye-thuhr;” rhymes with neither (“neye-thur”) is an adverb.

Here are some examples:

  • “Either, either, neither, neither, let’s call the whole thing off” 1937, by George & Ira Gershwin, “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off,” from the film “Shall We Dance?
  • “You can go or you can stay, I won’t love you either way.” 2008, Lee Ann Womack, “Either Way” (there’s also a 2017 version by Chris Stapleton)
  • “Baby step back either step up or step back” 1982, Gordon Lightfoot, “Baby Step Back

Ether (pronounced “ee-thhh-uhr”) is a noun.

  • In chemistry and medicine, it can mean diethyl oxide (sulfuric oxide, ethyl ether, ) which is used as a solvent. In the late 19th and early 20th century, it was used as an inhalant anesthetic. It is referenced in the novel The Cider House Rules, which takes place in Maine (the northeasternmost US state) at the turn of the 20th century.
  • In liquid form, it has also been used as a recreational drug, and its abuse is like that of alcoholism. It is referenced in Tolstoy’s 1869 novel War and Peace.
  • In the phrase “in the ether,” ether means the heavens or in the upper atmosphere.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Ethelred couldn’t decide whether to navigate to the west or to the south. Either one could be a intriguing journey to exotic peoples and exciting places. He looked into the ether of the night sky for guidance. Perhaps his ancestors were looking back. A star fell in the western sky. Well, that decided it. He would sail west.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Negligent vs. Negligible

Negligent and negligible 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.

Negligent (pronounced “negg-luh-jihnt”) is an adjective. It describes carelessness in a job, task or responsibility. For example, extreme negligence by a caregiver towards a child, a disabled or bedridden person can come with criminal charges. Criminal negligence may also come up with failure to maintain mechanical or vehicular equipment so that they are still safe to operate, and in caregiving negligence towards farm or pet animals.

Negligible (pronounced “negg-luh-jih-buhl”) is an adjective. It describes a scant, a tiny, or barely noticeable amount or difference.

The following story uses both words correctly:

In a crime that shocked the Nicodemus community, prosecutor Nigel Nathansson brought criminal charges against a negligent crematorium and funeral home. An odd smell was reported in the area. When a vendor paid a call to the property, they witnessed improper storage of the deceased and a backlog in the crematorium. It was evident that oversight of the departments had been negligible, staff had verbally reported everything was fine and no one was confirming this onsite.

Even worse, in the last two years, there was no guarantee that families who had received remains of what they thought were their loved ones had received the correct remains. Some of these had been buried and would now have to be exhumed.