Words that are not the same but get interchanged

I think there must be quite a few of these. Some are derivatives of each other and do mean the same thing, some are usage driven, and some are just coincidence. I get reminded when a word in a book seems a little off, like:

Hearty, hardy

Stanch, staunch

I had more but these things just fly in and out of my head. What say you all?

I see a lot of people using peaked or even worse, peeked, when they should be using piqued.

As in that really piqued my interest.

There are lots of these. Sometimes the correct word is uncommon, so people tend to use the more common but incorrect word. Like “mute” instead of “moot”. Others that peeve me:

compliment / complement
averse / adverse
discreet / discrete
affect / effect
flaunt / flout
home / hone (as in “home in on something”)
prosecute / persecute
tack / tact

remuneration vs renumeration

I remember coming across this huge wall of text that contained an absolutely ridiculous number of malapropisms and eggcorns.

Seems relevant to the thread, so I’ll quote it here.

lose/loose (I see that one quite often; though not as often as I used to see it)


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That loose/lose thing is weird to me. I have never made that mistake in my life and never saw it until the internet message era.

For me, the first time I ever saw it was late '90s. Buffy The Vampire Slayer fanfic, actually. I saw a lot then (I think I even checked to make sure all weren’t same author). And since then, I’ve seen it every so often, in various places online. I agree that it’s not a mistake I’ve ever made myself. So I’d never seen it before the internet-era, either.

Previously posted by me:

Go Warriors!

Thanks to Unabashed Fascist for the Malaprop essay. Some of those were real groaners.

Seen on Facebook recently - A person who writes ‘burro’ when they should write ‘burrow’ literally doesn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.

I think they mean he’s on autopilot and making shots without thinking.

I have an entire book of these, the wonderful Penguin Dictionary of Confusibles

It not only gives pairs (and triplets, and quadruplets) of words of similar meaning, but also parses the differences between them.
Sadly, it was published in 1980, to my knowledge hasn’t been reprinted, and is this Out Of Print. Your best bet is Alibris or Abe’s or Amazon or some other online used-book source.

A brake is something you use to stop a moving vehicle. If you are braking, you are slowing down.

A break is an interruption of some kind (a break from work, a break in a structure). If you are breaking, you are falling apart.

“Damp” means to reduce or mitigate. It’s often used in engineering contexts to describe the reduction of oscillations or movement in a system. On your car, shock absorbers damp the movement of the suspension; dampers are doors in HVAC ducts that control the movement of air.

“Dampen” means to moisten. Rain dampens the street. Your mom dampens a washcloth with her own spit to wipe that smudge off of your cheek.


The one that drives me nuts:


disperse/disburse – I just saw that one recently.

Also, not what the OP asked, but my voice-to-text for my voicemail once came up with “cat wrecked” when my mother left a message about her cataract surgery.

Also “expostulate” does not mean “guess,” just because it sounds like “postulate”-- which doesn’t really mean guess either, but it’s closer.


I’ve seen extrapolate confused with exacerbate.

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If you read the local “FOR SALE” pages on Facebook you’ll see tons of these.

One woman was trying to sell (or sale) her uncle’s fishing waders. She used “waiters” instead of “waders” and she did it over and over and over.

“My uncle needs to sale his fishing waiters. They are great waiters, no leaks”