Thursday, October 4, 2012

Even More Words that Are Easy to Confuse



Words can be confusing. They sound the same but mean something completely different. Or they seem to mean the same thing but they really don’t. Because language is designed just to mess with our heads. Here’s another set of words that you should keep in mind.

Cheep/cheap
The first is the sound a bird makes. The second is in regards to money. I have to remind myself of that every time I use one of these words, otherwise I’ll end up writing entire paragraphs about the cheepness of someone who refuses to spend a lot of money…again (no I’m not showing it to you. Too embarrassing). The easiest way I’ve found to remember is that cheep is a synonym for tweet and both have two e’s, and that birds generally don’t have enough money to be cheap in the first place.

Hanger/hangar
I’ve seen these words mixed up lots of times. They’re homophones and it’s easy to forget that the place where a plane goes is spelled with an a at the end. Just remember: a plane can’t land in a hanger. It can land on one, but it’s very unlikely ; ).

Phase/faze
More homophones. I’ve actually not seen faze used in its proper sense much, but I’ve seen people who talk about the fazes of the moon and it makes me cringe (not any of my writer friends, thankfully). Unless you’re talking about someone’s perturbed reaction, it’s phase.

Mistrust/distrust
A lot of people use these interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference. Mistrust is a general feeling, a gut reaction, whereas distrust is based on past experience. You may mistrust someone at first sight because they look or act suspicious, but if there’s someone you know has betrayed someone and you’re wary of them doing the same to you, you’re distrustful of them.

Slander/libel
These words are easy to mix up, but libel refers to defamation by printed words or pictures (like from a newspaper or magazine) and slander is defamation by an oral statement (say, on television). If you need a synonym for defame, slander is probably your best bet.

2 comments:

  1. Hi JE. I absolutely love this list.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can't recall the last time I've seen faze used anywhere...

    ReplyDelete

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