Similar Words That Can Trip You Up!

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Words That Are Easily Confused -

and Words that Even the Best Spellcheckers

Don’t Always Pick Up.


I was talking to another writer the other day about easily confused words, and words that even the best spellcheckers don’t always identify as errors, and we swapped notes and here’s a brief list of some of the blighters that can occasionally slip through if you are not 100% on top of your game!

Many of them sound exactly the same when spoken, and when you are writing quickly they can find their way into your work when you least expect it!


Here Are Some Common Ones to Look Out For.


Peak and Peek:


Peak is the top of a mountain.

Peek is taking a look at something.


Peel and Peal:


Peel is the coat of an orange or any fruit.

Peal is the ringing sound that bells make.


Wave and Waive:


Wave is waving someone goodbye, or a radio wave.

Waive is cancelling something, or giving something for free, as in waiving the cost.


Sole and Soul:


Sole is the underside of your feet or shoes.

Soul can be emotional feelings, your spirit surviving death, a type of music, or even a person, as in he’s a happy soul.


Break and Brake:


Break means to smash something, or a break in play.

Brake is to slow down or stop a car or train or bike.


Steak and Stake:


Steak is a juicy piece of meat.

Stake is a pointy thing driven through the heart of a bad man, or simply a piece of sharpened wood driven into the ground, or maybe to affix a fence to.


Lose and Loose:


Lose is when you don’t win something, you lose it, or when something gets lost, as in don’t lose that.

Loose is something that isn’t tight; it’s loose, as in a loose cardigan.


It’s and Its:


It’s with an apostrophe is a shortened form of it is, it has, or it was.

Its (without an apostrophe) is used when something belongs to something, such as its tail, its mouth, its legs, its dinner, its money, its coat, its brother, its mother, its dictionary.


Dough and Doe:


Dough is a constituent of bread, or a slang word for money.

Doe is a female deer or rabbit or even a kangaroo.


Their, There, and They’re:


Their relates to specific people or things, as in their house, their car, their dog, their coat, their music etc.

There relates to a place, as in how do I get there? Or over there; or we’re getting there, or are we nearly there yet?

They’re is a shortened form of they are, as in they’re horrid people, they’re having a lot of success, or they’re mad!


Bite and Bight and Byte: - They all sound the same!


Bite is to grip with teeth.

Bight is a wide curving indent in a shoreline forming a bay.

Byte is a computer term representing eight bits.


Wonder and Wander:


Wonder is amazed admiration, or to speculate about something, as in, I wonder about that.

Wander is to move from place to place, or to walk away, as in wandering off, and don’t wander away!


Faint and Feint:


Faint is to pass out, maybe through the heat.

Feint is to pretend to go one way and switch back in the other direction, as used in sport or even on the battlefield.


Rain, Reign and Rein – and again they all sound the same.


Rain is water falling from the clouds.

Reign is the period of rule of a monarch or ruler.

Rein is a strap for controlling a horse.


Compliment and Complement.


Compliment is saying something nice about a person, usually when they are present, as in you have nice eyes.

Complement is something that completes or improves or perfects something.


Who's and Whose.


Who's is the shortened form of who is or who has.

Whose, meaning of whom, and is used when asking about belonging, as in whose shoes are these? Whose house shall we go back to? Or even Whose idea was it?    


There are dozens and dozens of these kind of trip-up words that sound identical, or are very similar, and automated spellcheckers will simply not find many of them.


All writers know that they can occasionally fall into the trap of using the wrong word, and this can especially happen if you are rushing things and your brain is already formulating the next sentence, while still typing the previous one.


I am not immune to it I can assure you of that!!!


I cannot see the words Doe and Dough without cringing about using Doe for Dough in one of my books that was spell-checked and proofread several times before being published, and one thing is for sure, if you rely on spellcheckers alone to weed out these nasty little beasties you could end up disappointed.


Do you have any favourite, or more to the point, least favourite words that can be easily confused?


Feel free to share them here, and I’ll add them to the list above for all to see!!! Shame them, that’s what I say.


Thanks for reeding, er, sorry, reading!!!


Have a great day.


David C.





Tags: easily confused words, confusing words, spellcheck busters, spellchecker errors, spell-check beaters, incorrect spellings, similar words, incorrect words, wrong words,              

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