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: Flamingo vs. Flamenco

Flamingo and flamenco 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.

Flamingo (pronounced “fluh-mihng-oh”) is a wading bird known for its bright salmon colored feathers, long legs, and short, hooked beak. Flamingos filter feed off the ocean or swamp floor. Some shellfish they eat give their feathers that brilliant salmon hue. Birds that eat less of these creatures have less brilliant feathers. Check out a video of a mating procession here.

Flamingos are not native to the US* or Europe, but they have caught people’s imagination in these places for a long time.

  • Some Americans have plastic ones in the yard for decoration. These were introduced in 1957.
  • It’s not unusual to see flamingo shapes and patterns used on clothes, furniture, and products for spring and summer.
  • Flamingos were used as croquet clubs in the Lewis Carroll classic “Alice in Wonderland.”
  • English pop singer Dua Lipa featured flamingos in her 2017 “New Rules” video and does a flamingo-inspired dance with the other women in it.

Flamenco (pronounced “fluh-mihn-koh”/”flah-MEEn-koh”) is a native dance associated with southern Spain. While an acoustic guitar plays, a dancer claps, spins, and makes syncopated steps and stomps. Simultaneously, their arms are making dramatic gestures, snapping, or playing castanets (a percussion instrument of two wooden shells that are clapped together in one hand). Female dancers usually wear ruffled gowns and fringed scarves that accentuate the drama of their movements. Check out a video here.

Flamenco can be found in some former Spanish colonies of Central and South America, but these countries also have other dances their known for that come from indigenous traditions and large immigrant groups, like the Italians in Argentina. Check out more about those dances here and here.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Every year coming up with new ways to spark public interest and produce sellout shows was a challenge. Artistic Director Phyllidia Peterson thought the next season’s opening ballet company show could incorporate wildlife inspirations in the costuming while the dance styles would show global influence.

“I’m not going to be an ostrich doing ballet like Fantasia am I?”

“No. And no swans. The goal is to dazzle people, show them something new. It can’t be predictable or something they’ve seen before. Why should them come here if they’ve seen it before? So if we have flamingos, they’ll do the samba. Maybe we’ll have some hoopoes do a flamenco inspired dance. Ticket sales need to have an environmental charity donation.”

*=A colony was imported to Hialeah Park, Florida, where it still exists today.

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: Odious vs. Odoriferous

Odious and odoriferous 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.

Odious (pronounced “oh-dee-uhss”) is an adjective. It describes something disgusting, revolting, hateful, gross, or worthy of contempt.

Odoriferous (pronounced “oh-dihr-ihf-uhr-uhs”) is an adjective. It describes something with a pungent smell. For example: Every time the trashcan opens, an odoriferous blend of rotten food smells wafts into the air. This tells the people in the room that it’s time to take out the trash.

The following story uses both words correctly:

After stepping into an odoriferous dorm room for the third time, Odina realized she had had enough. The room smelled like laundry and dirty dishes. Her roommate was refusing to shower or clean anything after her recent breakup.

“Look, Donna, I know you’re upset.”

Donna looked up at her wearily. This was a hard confrontation for Odina, but it needed to be said.The consequences of saying nothing would be much harder than the temporary awkwardness of this confrontation. Odina continued.

“But our place,” she kicked at a plate on the floor, “is becoming a hazmat situation. I can’t stand it. I can’t go to class if my clothes smell like an odious dumpster. Take a shower and pull yourself together, or I’m moving out and demanding a new roommate. You might get kicked out of school if no one wants to live with you and they see the place like this.” Wow. Once she got going it was hard to hold back just how problematic this situation was.

Donna wiped her bloodshot eyes and looked around. “I guess you’re right. Sorry.”

“You could do so much better. He’s not worth this.”

Donna glared at her. “Okay, mom,” she said sarcastically. “Give it a rest.” Odina laughed and backed off.