Wicked Words

Hello SErs! Harmony here 🙂

A couple of books I’ve read lately have reminded me of how some common words are actually wicked words that like to trip us up at every chance. Because they are such common words, we think we know them and what they’re all about, but in fact, we’ve picked up the chameleon on the corner, who’s just pretending to be the word we want.

When we know that we’re not sure of a word, that’s easy because we can just go and look it up online. However, it’s the ones that feel like old friends that we have to keep an eye on the most. Sadly, we tend to use those old friends indiscriminately, and that’s when they stick out their legs and trip  us up.

A vast difference in meaning exists between the following words, even though they may seem the same …

Discreet/Discrete | Wave/Waive | Aloud/Allowed | Set/Sat | Hanger/Hangar | Hoard/Horde | Everyday/Every Day | To/Too | Peace/Piece | That/Than |

Common though they may be, I have lost count how many times I have seen the wrong version of the word used. It’s a bit like having an evil twin, lols. You can’t tell them apart, but–oh boy–you want to make sure you hang out with the nice one!

Below, I give you the meanings of some of the pairs listed above. All of these definitions can be found on Google 🙂





























One I haven’t mentioned is Baited/Bated … I saw a great post by Marcia on The Write Stuff, which you can read HERE.

What other words have you all come across in your reading that have pulled you out of a story or misled you due to being used incorrectly?

For more examples, you can check out my very first post on Story Empire called Where There’s Proof, where I list a lot of the commonly misused/misspelled words.

Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

Harmony Kent


44 thoughts on “Wicked Words

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  3. Great post, Harmony! And good reminders. I don’t get hung up on affect and effect; in fact, I’ve corrected them for my colleague (as a tech writer, it’d be a very poor showing to get those wrong 🙂 ). The homonyms don’t get me as much as the lay/lay/laid/lain or who/whom. Farther and further are another pair (pare?) that people stumble on. Oh, and ensure/insure (another pair I see often in technical writing). And I like the chameleon reference; my great aunt used to have a green anole that would change colors from green to brown. Loved to catch flies to feed to it !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oooh, now, that darned who versus whom! lols … one of my bugbears too 🙂 Lots of great words here. Thanks for your lovely comment, Julie 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  6. A subtle pare, Oops I meant a subtle pair that can create confusion is into/in to. The driver turned into a driveway. The driver turned in to a driveway. Very different meanings.

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  7. You caught one of mine in your list. I always seem to get the two confused, and I don’t think any of my editors or beta readers has ever caught it. (I guess I’m lucky most of my editing clients don’t use it—or don’t use it wrong—or I’d have to be embarrassed at missing it on their works.)

    I used to be an English professor, and I can’t tell you how many sets of words those students got wrong. Easy ones, too, that we should have learned in elementary school. Sometimes it’s an accident—I know; I goof, too. But sometimes I think it’s an indictment on our education system and our short-hand/texting culture.

    Liked by 4 people

    • When I know I have a hang-up on a word or pair of words, I usually make sure to double check, just to be on the safe side. Affect and effect drive me crazy, too, but I can remember by thinking “special effects,” which means effect is the noun. 😀 I have a thing for words that end in “ence” versus “ance.” I can never, EVER remember which it’s supposed to be. Is there some rule for that one I don’t know about, I wonder, or is it a matter of just memorizing each word?

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  8. Ugh! None of them pull me out of a story… ever. I get more wrapped up in character, plot, and arc. However, I make these mistakes as you well know. Waist/waste, affect/effect,etc. When we write, we just type away. On the editing passes, in my case, since the word doesn’t pull me out of the story I never catch some of these.

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    • I get totally wrapped up in the story and characters, too, but somewhere buried deep in my brain is a little monitor that starts beeping like mad when something really wrong passes in front of my eyes. (Sort of like the sound it makes when Justin Bieber pops up on tv. Oh, that was a cheap shot, wasn’t it?)

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    • Am laughing now because they ALWAYS pull me out of the read. My brain just catches this stuff, sadly, and it makes it hard to read sometimes! lols 🙂 This is why another set of eyes on our WIP is so useful 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree, but if I’m reading someone else’s story, I just blow right past them. Other things will catch me, but not words like you describe. It’s kind of a blessing and a curse. Depends on if I’m the reader or writer.

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  9. So many!! And a surprising number of darn good writers get them wrong at times. (Though I do think most should have been caught during some darn good editing.) Thanks for the link to my baited/bated post. I’m trying to make note when I see these errors, so I have fodder for my #WhyWriteWrong feature, so between us, maybe we’ll save a few souls from making these mistakes. (NOT that I haven’t made some of them, myself, but that’s one of the reasons I’m paying closer attention these days.) Great post, Harmony, and I especially like the “chameleon on the corner.” That doggone trickster! 😀

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    • He he he … I had a giggle when I came up with the chameleon, lols! Sometimes, I wonder where my brain gets this stuff. So glad you like the post, Marcia, and I love your #WhyWriteWrong feature 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Me, singing “We. Belong to a Mu-tu-al. Ad-mir-a-tion society, mybabyandme.” (You have to be older ‘n’ dirt to remember that one, but that’s just how they sang it. 😀 😀 😀

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