Friday, December 21, 2012

Words That Are Often Confused

During the recent election I kept hearing a radio ad for a certain politician.  The ads contrasted the status quo of one candidate with the new ideals and energy of the opponent.  The candidate talked about the "10th-century ideals" of the other party. Would the electorate accept or reject liberal ideals in the aftermath of the recession?

Do they mean ideals?  Were they saying what they meant?  Or were they confusing "ideal" with "idea"?  After all, there are similarities between the words.  An ideal is, after all, one kind of idea.  But somehow I think somebody thought "idea" is sometimes spelled with a silent-L.  (Pssst.  It's not.)

When people are in a coma, they do not lose "conscienceness."  Your conscience is your moral compass.  It pricks when you've done wrong.  "Conscious" means you're aware; it's what you are once you've come out of that coma.  Besides, one is a noun and the other is an adjective.

There also seems to be confusion out there in the big wide world about losing things.  I understand why: when something is loose (like the screw that holds your eyeglasses together) you may lose the item.  When you're talking about clothing or the twist-tie on the bread or how your car tire is attached to the axle, loose is the opposite of tight.  When you're talking about freedom versus captivity, loose is the opposite of bound.  (See, it's not that different from the opposite of "tight.")  But lose is the opposite of win, or the opposite of find.  "Loose" rhymes with "goose," but "lose" rhymes with "ooze."  Yes, the single-O or double-O doesn't change the vowel sound in those words; the number of O's changes the S-sound from ssss to zzzzz.

Shall we all recite the quote together?
"I do not think that word means what you think it means."

 And thus concludes my current rant about spelling.

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