It’s been too long since I’ve done this. I don’t know how there aren’t more words that confuse me.
I’m terrible with these words. Sheer has a ridiculous variety of meanings. It can mean transparent, pure, utter, steep, and in reference to ships, swerve. On the other hand, shear always means something to do with cutting, like shear a sheep or another word for scissors. But it’s hard to tell them apart! I try to remember that shear always goes with sheep, which reminds me that it has to do with shaving. And anything else gets sheer.
Words with similar sounds but completely different meanings are the bane of my existence. Illicit means illegal, and it’s easy to remember if you remind yourself they both start with “ill”. Elicit is a synonym for evoke. Again, both start with e’s. Why are they so close in spelling? Well, it’s all about the prefixes. The ex- prefix often loses the x (think of emigration or the above mentioned evoke) and for the in- prefix loses the n and picks up an l in front of words that start with l (like licit and legal) [http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=in-&allowed_in_frame=0]. And also because languages are confusing.
This one I’ve come across once or twice. I’ve also made the error myself a few times, but that’s more because personnel is one of those words that for some reason I can’t spell for the life of me (I always do one n and two l’s…really). The definition of personal is between you and me. The definition of personnel is a group of employees. Although “a personal” seems like a good name for a group of psychologists.
I’m mentioning this one because I totally mixed them up in one of my WIPs, and if you know the definitions, that’s kind of an issue. For those who don’t know (like the me from last week), breech means the rear part of anything, but more specifically humans. It means butt, is what I’m saying. And I used it when I needed to say breach, as in rupture. I tell you, “breeching the gate” makes for some awkward visuals.
Just brought up because it’s bit of a problem to read “plum the depths of my soul”. Plum means only one thing:
|I plummed my soul once. Turned the entire thing into fruit.|
It’s a fruit, for always and ever. If you’re talking about measuring the depth of water (or the human soul), perpendicular or vertical, or complete (in a colloquial sense), then stick that b on there.