Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Sensor vs. Censor

Sensor and censor 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.

Sensor (pronounced “sihn-sohr”) is a noun. It means a tool using lasers or other tech to scan content.

For example:

  • At the airport the TSA scans people’s clothing items, luggage, and personal tech devices for explosive or other “banned from flight” materials.
  • On automated sliding doors, a sensor responds a person walking up to it to enter or exit a store or other building.
  • In some buildings, metal detector gates or other sensors aim to prevent people carrying weapons into a government building, or trying to leave a store with stolen merchandise. Should a person attempt to carry one through the gate, an alarm goes off and security guards respond.
  • At a store checkout, a sensor gun reads price barcodes on products as their labels or tags are run across its front panel.
  • At the library, borrowed books are scanned by the librarian’s sensor so their records are updated with what books are have been loaned out to which patrons.

Censor (pronounced “sihn-suhrd”) is a verb. It means to block content that is socially deemed illicit or objectionable.

  • Some songs on the radio have been censored when making references to marijuana use. In the 1990s, Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels” scrobbled “joint.” Back in 1970, Brewer and Shipley’s “One Toke Over the Line” was pulled from radio airplay.
  • Typically video content is censored from television because it is deemed too violent, sexual, crudely worded, or all of the above for consumption by unsupervised children and teens. Radio stations over the airwaves are censored for language.
    • The most censored TV channels in the US are ones that available over the air via an antenna or aerial.
    • Home Box Office (HBO) and Showtime are paid subscription cable channels in the USA, they feature films and original content without censoring. Satellite radio from Sirius, which is also a subscription service, is also uncensored.
    • Online streaming content is typically not censored at all. Youtube accounts are supposed to be for ages 13 and up, but there are plenty of younger people than that with accounts and channels.

The following story uses both words correctly:

The culture clash came early. Zanna, a foreign exchange student, went to check out Lady Chatterly’s Lover from the library. But the sensor made an odd buzz sound. The librarian told her, “I’m sorry the local school board has censored this book from reading by anyone under 18. It’s been deemed indecent for reading by children. I’m sorry we failed to remove it from the shelf.”

As the library was so quiet, the librarian’s voice seemed that much louder in the room as she shared her disappointment. She tried to help as best she could. “Here. Here is a list of approved books for high school papers.” As Zanna reviewed the list, it was hard not to notice none dealt with mature themes.

She whispered at the librarian,”Why are these books so immature? This is what I would be reading in fourth grade back home and they are old books, too. Nothing was published after 1980.”

The librarian understood her frustration, but didn’t know what to say. Zanna was in a bind. Her reading assignment and paper was due in two days. Zanna just shrugged and used the list to find a new book.

She would be calling her parents about returning home promptly. She wasn’t encouraged by what she was learning about this new culture at all. She at least had a choice to leave. She felt bad for her peers who were growing up in a limited environment and just accepting it as normal.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Ameliorate vs. Amelia

Ameliorate and Amelia 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.

Ameliorate (pronounced “uh-mee-lee-ohr-ate”) is a verb. It means to make easier, improve, help lessen the load. It is similar to alleviate.

Amelia (pronounced “uh-mee-lee-uh”) is a female first name. It comes from the German language and means “work.”

The following story uses both words correctly:

When her best friend Dallas lost her husband and children to a horrible car accident, Amelia sprung into action to help. Dallas was understandably devastated and fell into a deep depression. Dishes, garbage, and bill paying all seemed exhausting, not to mention pointless. Amelia checked on her daily, doing anything domestic to help her out since she couldn’t ameliorate the pain of such a big loss. She helped her find an attorney to handle things related to the accident.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Pizzas vs. Pizzazz

Pizzas and pizzazz 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.

Pizzas (pronounced “peetzas”) is the plural form of the noun “pizza.” A pizza is a vegetable pie from Napoli in Southern Italy. Brought over to US by immigrants in the late 1800s, its become a ubiquitous part of American cuisine. The US has multiple regional styles of pizza: New York style is huge, Chicago style is a thick crust with lasagna-like layers of sauce, cheese and meat baked into the middle. A more recent introduction has been brick oven style, which is closest to the Italian original.

Pizza is constantly evolving to accommodate regional tastes, gourmet trends, and unique diets. In recent years to accommodate gluten-free diets, cauliflower crust has become an option.

Pizzazz (pronounced “puh-zzazz”) is a noun. It describes something dazzling, exciting, or otherwise fascinating. If something is described as lacking pizzazz, it’s boring, dull, or uninteresting.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Petra was discussing the benefit party menu.

“We thought we’d have chicken pizzas, a baked potato bar, fried chicken, and mac and cheese,” said Peggy.

“Hmm, that lineup lacks pizzazz,” said Petra. “How about something global? Something people can’t get at a restaurant around here?

“If it’s not at a restaurant around here, how will we know people want to come out and eat it?” Peggy asked.

“She’s got a point.” added Jen.

Petra had an epiphany. “Okay, how about this compromise, fried chicken tenders in a variety of dipping sauces.”

“That might work. Now what about the sides?”

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Wrath vs. Writhe

Wrath and writhe 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.

Wrath (pronounced “rath;” rhymes with bath, math, path) is a noun. It means thirst for revenge or payback for wrongdoing. It is one of Western culture’s “seven deadly sins.”

Writhe (pronounced “reyethh;” rhymes with lithe, blithe) is a verb. It means to move about. This can mean as in dancing or exercising, in struggle when captured, or in reaction to extreme pain.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Roger had been her boyfriend for years but then suddenly broke it off. A week later, he was out and about with Renee, and it wasn’t long before they were engaged. Ragnara felt tremendous wrath when towards Renee and Roger. It was hard to get out and move on with her life without seeing them together.

One morning Ragnara was out for a walk when she saw Renee lying on the ground, writhing in pain. She had twisted her ankle and couldn’t move. As much as Ragnara was annoyed with Renee, she felt obligated to call 911 on her behalf and get her help. Roger was not around.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Wry vs. Rye

Wry and Rye 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.

Wry (pronounced “reye;” rhymes with pry, fry) is adjective. It describes things that are twisted or distorted. These can be tangible things like a face or body, or more abstract things like a person’s sense of humor.

In the US, we have satirical news sources that showcase an often wry sense of humor with their stories: The Onion, The Borowitz Report, The Babylon Bee (Christian religious satire), and on Twitter, the DPRK News Service (US foreign policy and critiqued from a fake North Korean source)

Rye (pronounced “reye;” rhymes with eye, lye, bye) is a noun. It is a grain in the wheat family that grows well in the Northeastern US and the Great Plains. Outside the US, it is grown in Canada, Germany, and Eastern Europe. Rye seed is oval shaped with a crevice running down the middle on one side.

It’s most notably used in bread, distilled spirits, animal feed, and used as a cover crop. Rye whiskey is said to have a spicy flavor compared to other spirits. When rye is used in other spirits as a secondary ingredient, it lends its spiciness to the flavor.

In pop culture:

  • Don McLean’s “American Pie (1971):” Good ol’ boys drinking whiskey and rye
  • Tex Ritter’s “Rye Whisky” (1959)

The following story uses both words correctly:

After making a name for herself as a comedic actress, Wrigley Riles ventured into directing and screenwriting. She reunited with old friends from improv to discuss ideas. After a couple shots of rye whiskey and catching up, she shared why she brought them together again.

“Ok guys, I asked you over because you are the funniest people I know. I need your help. If I were going to make a film about US politics with a satirical bent and lots of wry humor, what would that look like? I want it to be like nothing anyone’s seen before.”

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Coati vs. Cody

Coati and Cody 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.

Coati (pronounced “koh-tee;” rhymes with goatee) is the short form of Coatimundi (“koh-tuh-muhn-dee”). On first look, they resemble a small bear or dog with a monkey or lemur’s tail and a long snout. But they are actually cousins to raccoons; both are members of the procyon family.

It is closely related to the North American raccoon, it also has contrasting color bands around its eyes and a striped tail. However, it has a longer, more upturned snout than a raccoon. Coatis are native to South America, Central America, Mexico, and the US Southwest. Also a nocturnal forager like its raccoon cousin, the coati eats all kinds of plant and animal matter, whatever it can find.

Cody (pronounced “koh-dee”) is an Irish name. Traditionally used for a males, it can also be used for females. It is also a surname, as in famous 19th century entertainer Buffalo Bill Cody.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Dr. Cody Carmichael was out for a morning run when she discovered a dead female opossum had been hit by a car. Its babies were still clutching her body. She pulled off her hoodie and gathered them up in it. Foregoing the rest of her run, she took them back to her veterinarian clinic. Using a tiny portion of electrolyte juice, she got them rehydrated, then gave them milk. She found some towels and a small cat carrier for their bed. Her usual patients were domestic dogs and cats, so this was going to be interesting.

After four months, the opossums had grown up and were ready for release elsewhere. But other wildlife were in the office and the backyard of her clinic: these included other vehicle victims like a baby deer and now-surrendered coatis taken from the wild.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Grovel vs. Gravel

Grovel and gravel 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.

Grovel (pronounced “graw-vuhl”) is a verb. It means to make a showy demonstration of grief or shame, an attempt to get back in an authority figure’s good graces.

Gravel (pronounced “gra-vuhl”) is a noun. It means small rocks used in paving surfaces like driveways or parking lots. Some species of birds eat gravel to aid in digestion.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Giselle had thrown all Gene’s belongings and him out onto the gravel a week ago. So she was surprised to see Gene back this morning at her door and groveling for her forgiveness.

This time it wasn’t happening. She was tired of his over the top romantic schemes each time he screwed up, and tired of hearing about girls he was cheating with once they were back together. She had been through this twice before, but he never changed for the better. So she had to make the changes and ditch him already. It wasn’t easy. She was about to go on a girls trip that would hopefully clear her mind.

“Are you still talking? Gene, get lost. I have places to be.” She slammed the door.