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The following "master list" of errors comes from a (still-incomplete) document of advice for amateur writers which Troper-and-paid-author Looney Toons has been composing on and off since early 2007. (At some point in 2012, Looney Toons spun off the error list into its own document, but feel free to check out the guide anyway.)

While it is in no way definitive or exhaustive, it is rather extensive and ever-so-faintly snarky in places. It is more-or-less organized in alphabetical order by the erroneous word or phrase, although in some cases two or more terms may turn out to be interchangeably misused for each other, in which case the "key" entry is pretty much arbitrarily selected.

Additional examples are always welcome, and will probably be stolen for Looney Toons' master copy. New entries should, of course, be inserted into the list alphabetically by the erroneous word.

Definitions

A term that will be found frequently in the following, but which may not be immediately familiar, is "eggcorn". "Eggcorns" are words or phrases that a person has only ever heard and never seen written, which when that person needs to write them down get written the way they sound to him. The term comes from the transcription someone once made of the word "acorn", which they had somehow gotten through their life without once seeing (or recognizing) in print. The eggcorn is the half-sibling of the Mondegreen.

An excellent guide to known eggcorns can be found here.

Related to the eggcorn is "eye dialect". This is a term for the writer's device of spelling words as they sound in order to give a sense of a speaker with a foreign accent, an odd dialect, or poor education. For example, using "gonna" or "gunna" for "going to". In general, this is a deliberate stylistic choice made by a writer, but on this page it's used also to reflect a variety of eggcorn that is caused by poor literacy skills -- the key example would be writing the contraction "'ve" as " of" (as in "could of", "would of") out of simple incomprehension that the words in question are a contraction.

As a final note, the original core set of examples here were primarily collected from Fan Fics (mostly for Anime, at least at first). As a result, you will occasionally find specific references (though not links) to the fics in question; this is to allow the reader the opportunity to view the errors in their native environment, should they so choose.

No relation to Boo-Boo Bear, Bobo Bombardment, or any List of Big Booboos.


The List:

  • "A" for "I" (the word denoting first person singular, not the character).
  • "abject" (pitiful) for "object" (thing, goal); the case in point was "an abject lesson".
  • "absorbent" for "exorbitant". Nabiki's prices don't soak up water, they soak up money.
    • Also, "adsorb" and "adsorption" are technical terms used in chemistry; the difference between "absorb" and "adsorb" is explained here.
  • "accept" (agree to the existence of) vs. "except" (other than). "Nothing is known except A" means "All that is known is A". "Nothing is known accept A" (which should really be "Nothing is known; accept A") means "No information is available; understand that A exists."
  • "access" (permission, liberty or ability to enter) for "excess" (surplus).
  • The terms "accuracy", "precision" and "resolution" are, as pointed out in a mid-1970s article in British magazine Electronics Today International, often confused with one another; for example, so-called "double-precision" calculations are actually double-resolution, and in a computer exhibition at around that time, one exhibitor advertised a real-time clock board with a "1/100th of a second accuracy" -- a meaningless claim, for it failed to specify the interval over which that accuracy was obtained. (Again, they probably meant a "1/100th of a second resolution".) According to the article, if a series of tests are done with an instrument and in each case the result which should have been obtained subtracted from that which was, giving a set of error terms, the accuracy of the instrument is given by the arithmetic mean of those terms, and the precision by the standard deviation. The resolution is the smallest possible difference between measurements.
    • A common illustration of the difference is: fire a gun at a target repeatedly. Your precision is the size of the cluster of holes, your accuracy is how close those holes are to the bullseye, and the resolution is the size of the rings on the target.
  • "acronym" as a synonym of "initialism" (or, worse, "abbreviation"). An acronym is a new word formed from the initials of a phrase (such as laser); a phrase contrived to form an already-existing word, or the word thus formed, is an acrostic (e.g. MIME); and a bunch of initials which can't be pronounced as a word is just an initialism (e.g. HTML). Note also that while an initialism is an abbreviation, an abbreviation isn't necessarily an initialism (e.g. the British English "mash" for "mashed potatoes"). NASA (NASS-uh) is an acronym; NSA (inn-ess-ay) is not.
  • "adapt" (change to fit the circumstances) vs. "adept" (competent, skilled) vs. "adopt" (take as one's own)
  • "addictive" (causing a physical dependence) for "habituative" (causing a psychological dependence). Alcohol, marijuana, LSD, Doom and All The Tropes are all powerfully habituative, but (except in rare cases) none of them are clinically addictive.
  • "adjure" (to solemnly command) vs. "abjure" (to renounce or abandon).
  • "admits" (owns up to) for "amidst" (among) -- although this could be a simple typo
    • Also "amiss" and "a mist".
  • "adverse" (bad, negative, unpleasant) vs. "averse" (opposed)
    • I am strongly averse to adverse consequences.
  • "aesthetic" (having to do with the fine arts or appreciation of same) vs. "ascetic" (following a strict discipline of self-control and denying oneself excess and luxuries). The classic instance of this error showed up in an early Dungeons and Dragons rulebook in the description of the Monk character class.
    • "Acetic" (related to vinegar) is also used for either of the above.
  • The verb "affect" (to act on, produce a change) and the noun "effect" (result, consequence) are not interchangeable.
  • "afterwords" (author's notes at the end of the book) vs. "afterward" (in the time following an event).
  • "aid" for "aide" -- The first is not just the verb "to aid" but also can mean any inanimate object that helps with something; the second is a person who provides help of one sort or another.
    • "aides" for "AIDS" -- just see the South Park episode with Jared from Subway in it for this one.
    • On a related note, it's lemonade, which means "made from lemons", not lemonaid (something that helps lemons). Unfortunately, it is Kool-Aid, which means both halves of the word are spelled wrong.
  • "all for not" when what was meant was "all for naught".
    • Similarly, "ought" ("should") for "aught" ("nothing").
  • "ain't" when used in conjunction with any personal pronoun but "I". "Ain't" stands for "am not", so "you am not X" is not correct.
    • For that matter, "ain't" is an informal colloquialism and should only be used when trying to convey such informal colloquialism; technically, the above rule is invalid since "ain't" does not conform to formal English speaking rules anyway.
    • The King disagrees.
    • Ain't used as [I] am not, [you] are not, [she] is not or [They] are not are all perfectly acceptable in any dialog in which informal colloquialism is acceptable. Most circumstances that require a more formal tone also proscribe contractions in general. One example is the quote These numbers ain't for fiddlin', attributed (if not confirmed) to professor and astronomer William H. Jefferys, in explanation of the physical constants of the universe i.e. that these constants arrived at their respective values through natural forces (as opposed to by chance, or through the actions of a higher intellect).
    • It started as a contraction of "I am not", and could even be used formally for this purpose for a short time. It was doomed to informal situations afterward, and as long as you're using the anything-goes brand of English, there ain't no problem in using it for other pronouns (or with double negatives, for that matter); hell, it's one of the best words in the language that there is for indicating that you are avoiding being completely formal.
      • Another one involving informal contractions -- using "y'all" as if it were a singular (sometimes even to the extent of saying "y'all all"). It's a contraction of "you all" and which could be very useful, as English lacks a distinct second-person plural.
        • In some dialects, the rule is that "y'all" is singular, "all y'all" is plural and "all y'all's" is plural possesive.
  • "alley" (narrow little street) for "ally" (someone on your side). Example: "And just like that, Neville knew that he had uncovered an alley in the Slytherin House" from "Longbottom's Army" by kerrymdb. The reverse mistake is made as well; I've frequently seen fics where someone "goes down an ally", which is either unintentionally sexual, or just improbable.
    • And then there's "allay", which means to put at ease.
    • And "alloy", a mixture of two metals. [1]
  • "aloud" (audibly) for "allowed" (permitted)
  • "alot" for "a lot". "A lot" is two words. "Allot", meaning to distribute, should certainly not be used here. "Alot" is not a formally recognized English word at all; the stricter grammarians will demand even "a lot" as two separate words be replaced with something more formal and proper.
  • "alright" for "all right"
    • To clarify, using 'alright' in formal writing is generally a big no-no. It's debated whether it's acceptable in less formal writing.
  • "alter" (change) for "altar" (sacrificial table)
  • "altitude" (flight height) for "attitude" (personality trait) This one has been intentionally used as a pun. People have been known to tell someone who has their head in the clouds that they "don't like your altitude" on purpose.
    • Although, it is possible for an aircraft to have an adverse attitude (inclination of the three main axes)...
      • Yaw angle of attack is a drag: couldn't be any rudder. Contrail yourself!
  • "amendable" (easily modified) for "amenable" (agreeable)
  • "angle" for "angel"
  • "and" for "an" -- Usually a typo.
    • Probably a particular type of typo: the finger macro. Particular character combinations are so common that typing part of them subconsciously causes "missing" characters to be added (like "d" after "an", to make the more common "and").
  • "ancestors" (members of prior generations of one's family) for "descendants" (members of subsequent generations). It's amazing they could be confused, but it's quite frequent of a mistake.
  • "Anchors away" is not a proper nautical term, but could mean the the anchor is dropped. The proper term is "anchors aweigh," which means the opposite of the former -- the anchor is raised and the ship is about to leave.
    • "Anchor's away" could mean that the captain of your team is absent, or you have no one to host your news broadcast.
  • A common error (especially on signs) is to use the wrong conjunction, particularly "and" (intersection) when "or" (union) is the intended meaning. For instance, "Do not consume food and drink in this shop," meaning that it's all right to consume one or the other as long as you're not consuming both. To clarify:
    • "A and B" -- both of them at once.
    • "A or B" -- either (or both) of them.
    • "Either A or B" -- either (but not both) of them. In computer languages this case is called "A xor B" (eXclusive OR).
  • "anomalous" (at odds with its surroundings or companions) vs. "anonymous" (nameless or unknown)
  • "Anticlimatic" means you're against the weather. The adjective form of Anticlimax is "anticlimactic."
  • "anyway" (however, whatever) vs. "any way" (an indeterminate direction)
  • "apidimy" for "epitome," a spelling error from the Internet.
  • "armature" (a wire frame, esp. for clay sculpture) when what is meant is "amateur".
    • Also, note the difference between an amateur (one who engages in an activity for the love of it) and a novice (a beginner or a n00b). Not all amateurs are novices; to the contrary, amateur is related to the Latin amour, to love, so amateurs are often experts in their field. The opposite of amateur is professional, (also not necessarily an expert).
      • Note that "amateur" usually carries the implication of being a dilettante or lacking in professional training. Another case of a word having deviated significantly from its Latin root.
    • A common misspelling of amateur is amature. This one pops up a lot in amateur and novice writing.
  • "artic" (short for "articulated", hinged in the middle, especially of a vehicle and particularly a truck) for "Arctic" (the region surrounding the North Pole). Even worse is the eggcorn "Antartic" (against the truck?) for "Antarctic" (of the South Pole).
  • "Artist" (one who creates) for "artiste" (one who performs). This error is far too common; for instance, it's embedded in the ID 3 tag system.
  • "ascent" (an upward motion) for "assent" (agreement)
  • "asinine" is not spelled with two esses, however much the word "ass" (with which it is admittedly cognate) might be in the mind of the person typing it.
  • "atheistic" (not believing in God) for "aesthetic" (related to the beauty of something). IGN's guide to The Movies probably did not mean to say that "[s]creen fades are purely atheistic".
    • Also, 'atheism' is not the same as 'agnosticism'. Atheistic means you don't believe in the existence of a god. Agnostic refers to someone who feels there is insufficient evidence to decide one way or the other. While it is possible to be both, it's also possible to be one or the other.
  • "Athiesm" for "Atheism" is extremely common.
    • I'm the athiest atheist in town! (Now we just need to invent a meaning for "athi" so that can make sense...)
    • Also atheist doesn't mean the same as non-religious. They often overlap, but not necessarily.
  • "Attorney Generals" is not the plural of "Attorney General." The proper plural form is "Attorneys General"
    • Likewise the plural of "Surgeon General" is "Surgeons General"
    • And the plural of "court martial" is "courts martial"
    • And it's "passers-by", not "passer-bys".
    • Also, for Brits, it's "Trades Union" not "Trade Unions".
    • This is a general rule; since only nouns and verbs can be plural (adjectives cannot be), to obtain the plural of a compound noun of the form noun-adjective, one pluralises the noun-part. Another example is "bureaux de change".
  • "aviator" (a pilot) for "avatar" (a physical embodiment of a god, especially in Hinduism, or an icon used to represent a user on a computer system).
    • So we can look forward to Aviator: The Last Airman?
  • "Bacteria" is a plural (of "bacterium"). If you say "bacteria is", then the Biology Police will hunt you down and place your figgin upon a spike.
  • "banzai" (an exclamation of excitement or success) vs. "bonsai" (the art of carefully growing and sculpting miniature trees).
  • "barbeque" for "barbecue".
    • The dictionary lists both as being correct, though the former is a "variant" or "slang" version.
  • "bare" (to reveal or strip nude) vs. "bear" (to carry; to give birth to; large, dangerous omnivore -- yes, I've seen a "grizzly bare" show up in a story.)
  • "barley" (a grain, used to make beer and soups) vs. "barely" ("almost", "by a narrow margin")
  • "barrow" (peddler's wheeled cart, or a large burial mound) for "borrow" (temporarily take or make use of something owned by another person)
  • baited vs. bated. "Bated" is a proper English word (same root as in to abate), and has nothing to with "baited". You can wait for something with bated breath; but only a mosquito, irresistibly drawn by the carbon dioxide in the air we exhale, may possibly know what a "baited breath" is supposed to mean.
  • "Beck and call", not "beckon call".
    • In the Star Wars EU, a "beckon call" is a remote control which orders the user's spaceship to home in on said remote-control's location using autopilot. The pun is almost certainly intentional. Zahn likes his wordplay, but tends to make it subtle enough not to distract the reader.
    • A beck (noun) is a signal, hence to be at one's beck and call is to be receptive to communications and summons. To beckon is the verb form of beck. A beacon is a locational signal used for navigation, and yes, they're all derived from common Middle English roots.
  • "Begging the question" as used to mean "raising the question", as opposed to in reference to the logical fallacy (which does not involve begging or a question).
  • "bellow" (yell, shout) vs. "below" (underneath)
  • "bemuse" (and its forms) vs. "amuse" (and its forms). If your joke bemuses your audience, then they will be scratching their heads in puzzlement, not laughing[2].
  • "bespeckled" for "bespectacled." Megane wears glasses, and isn't freckled or otherwise spotted.
  • "blond" and "blonde". In French, "blond" is masculine (and therefore used for men) and "blonde" feminine (and used for women). In English, you won't be making a mistake if you follow that rule. Or you can simplify and use "blond" for both (and lose the opportunity for wordplay). Hair, no matter whose, is always "blond". "Blonde guy" is either a linguistic abomination or someone in dire need of gender reassignment therapy.
  • "boarder" (someone who rents a room from you, or someone who is attacking your ship, as in the phrase "repel boarders") vs. "border" (the edge of a country or other political unit)
  • "borne" (carried) vs. "born" (begin living as an independent organism)
    • Further muddied by phrases like "she had borne him a child".
      • Although, of course, the child was borne in her womb for nine months before it was born.
      • And neither one has anything to do with Jason Bourne.
    • There is a book Airborn (born in the air), a word play on Airborne (lit. carried in the air). On of the characters was born on an airship.
  • "bosoms" when referring to a a single person. "Bosom" means the upper chest, the breasts or (figuratively) the heart; a woman has breasts, but only one bosom.
  • "boson" (subatomic particle) for "bosom" (breasts).
  • "bossism" (the ideology of being a boss?), also for "bosom".
    • Bosoms should always be handled with care.
  • "Bowl" (open container) for "bowel" (intestine), and vice versa.
  • "brazier" (a pan for lighting fires in) for "brassiere" (female underwear, usually shortened to "bra")
  • "breaks" (fractures, turns of fortune) for "brakes" (devices for stopping a vehicle)
  • "breath" (noun) for "breathe" (verb).
  • "breath" (air in the lungs) for "breadth" (width).
    • Also, a tiny distance is "a hair's breadth"; "a hare's breath" is the respiration of a large lagomorph.
  • A person from Britain is a "Briton", not a "Britain".
  • "broach" (to make a hole in, or the hole itself, or to open a subject for conversation) vs. "brooch" (piece of jewelry)
  • For Americans writing Brit Fic: "bullocks" (young male cattle) vs. "bollocks" (testicles). "Cutting off your bullocks" simply means you're no longer providing those calves with financial support.
  • From numerous Sailor Moon fics: "Burning Mandella". Rei does not ignite the former president of South Africa and throw him at her target. Not even with his name spelled right. This should be, of course, "Burning Mandala" (a Buddhist meditation symbol).
    • Nor does the same happen to William Mandella, the protagonist of the sf novel The Forever War, whose name actually is a misspelling of "mandala".
  • "calendar" (a means of keeping track of dates) vs. "calender" (a machine for glazing paper or cloth). It's hard to imagine a situaton where a fanfic writer would actually intend a reference to the latter (unless there's an anime based around papermaking that I am unaware of).
  • "caliber" (degree of competence, also a diameter of a bullet or something similarly shaped) for "caliper" (an instrument to measure thickness or part of the brakes on a car). "Man of his caliper" is used far too often. Interestingly, you can use a caliper to measure caliber.
  • "callous" (uncaring) for "callus" (hardened skin).
    • Actually, "callous" is the adjective form "callus." (Calloused skin has calluses on it.)
  • "cannon" for "Canon" -- mostly found in reviews. (The Verne Canon is the body of Jules Verne's fiction; the Verne Cannon is a fictional very-large-bore weapon from Castle Falkenstein.)
    • A Kannon is a Buddhist Boddhisattva, sometimes called the goddess of mercy. The company Canon is named after her.
    • Now that's my kind of mercy.
    • The back-cover blurb for Bolos: Honor of the Regiment speaks of them having a "laser canon."
      • Depending on the style of that, laser weaponry could be canon. Laser rifles, on the other hand -- what difference could rifling the barrel possibly make to a beam weapon?
        • Most military firearms are now rifled; the ones called "rifles" fulfil a sparticular role (precision shooting), so a "laser rifle" is probably a reasonable concept. A "laser canon" on the other hand could be a high-tech Badass Preacher.
  • "cant" (hypocrisy or slang) for "can't" (cannot) -- sometimes seen in trope titles. Also "wont" (habit) for "won't" (will not).
  • "canvass" (to search thoroughly) for "canvas" (heavy cotton fabric)
  • While "capeesh" or "capiche" can be acceptable, as the expression itself has become more of an interjection than a word with actual meaning, the original Italian is "capisce." Best translation is "do you understand?"

 "So sit down and be quiet, capiche?"

<pause>

"Do you understand me?!"

"...everything except the capeesh part at the end."

    • This one is a problem, since it stems from a Sicilian colloquialisation of the word "capite" in Italian. The Corleones were Sicilian, so, "capisce" became the most common form known to non-Italians.
      • And you know, it's not even really pronounced that way in Italian. Rather than "kuh-PEESH" it's really "kah-PEE-shay."
  • "capricious" (whimsically arbitrary) for "capacious" (having lots of room)
  • "caret" (^-shaped cursor or mark for insertion of text into a document) vs. "carat" (tiny unit of mass for gemstones) vs. "karat" (measure of pure gold in a jewelry alloy, ranging from 0=none to 24=100%) vs. "carrot" (orange root vegetable)
    • Measure of gold purity may be also spelled 'carat', but 'karat' is preferable due to similarity to its symbol (K or kt). Unite of gemstone mass is always spelled wit a 'c' however.
  • "carrel" (a library cubicle used for private study) vs. "corral" (an enclosure for horses). Neither should be confused with "coral" (the stuff reefs are made of), "carol" (a song of joy) or "choral" (of a chorus or choir).
    • And while we're at it, "CHOral" (adj. meaning of a chorus or choir) is not the same as "choRAL" (noun, a religious melody). In English, the latter is sometimes spelled "chorale," to make the (spoken) distinction plain; the former is not.
  • Just about the worst thread hijacking on the EmailDiscussions forum was when one poster posted a thread on cases (of lettering) and one of the less-intelligent posters mistook the thread topic to be classes (of the socio-political kind, hence banned from discussion on EMD). She subsequently got banned for a far more serious breach of the rules, and the thread was locked and a "clean" copy posted in its place; but how she managed to mistake the two words, which are not only totally dissimilar in meaning but aren't even spelled all that similarly, is a mystery to this day.
  • "cash" (money) for "cache" (a stash, possibly of cash).
  • Or "cache" for "cachet" (a distinctive quality).
  • "casual" (informal, unconcerned etc.) vs. "causal" (being or involving a cause)
  • "cater" (to provide people with food) for "kilter" (balance or a nominal status, usually noted when something is off kilter or out of kilter), an eggcorn.
  • "cathouse" (brothel) for "cattery" (place containing cats)
  • "cavalry" (horse-mounted soldiers) for "Calvary" (place where the Romans supposedly stuck some Jewish carpenter up on a stick) and vice versa. Bugs Bunny mixes them up all the time.
    • That's pretty standard in the American Southern dialect.
      • Which is really ironic, the South being the Bible Belt and having fielded some of the most impressive mounted units in the American Civil War. You'd think they'd be more careful about that particular one.
    • In the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, Starbuck does this at least once when she says, "Here comes the Calvary," which is especially odd when you consider that Caprica shouldn't have had a history with Jesus in it.
  • "chaff" (metallic debris used as a countermeasure for radar) vs. "chafe" (literally, to rub the skin raw, but also used metaphorically to indicate impatience or annoyance with some kind of obstruction or restriction).
    • "Chaff" originally meant the seed coverings from grain, which was removed by threshing (hitting it with a stick and throwing it in the air). The radar countermeasure was named "window" and "Düppel" by the Brits and Germans who independently invented it, but its resemblance to the organic material (especially the way it falls and flutters through the air) took over as the Trope Namer.
      • And getting this kind of chaff in your clothes (surprisingly easy to do) will make them chafe for the rest of the day.
  • "chalked full" for "chock full" (Eggcorn)
  • "check" for "cheek".
  • "choral" (having to do with music sung by a group) for "coral" (sea creature that produces rocky outcroppings and reefs)
    • Not forgetting "corral" (an enclosure for animals, or to round-up said animals) and "Corel" (a software house).
  • "chord" (notes played together; also, a line segment with both endpoints on a circle) for "cord" (string or wire).
    • Musicians and linguists would rather you referred to "vocal cords" than "vocal chords", because they are cords of tissue that can only play one note at a time. Linguists are less likely to be fussy about it because they know that most use of a language is nothing but a lot of well-established mistakes in the use of an older one.
  • A 'Christain' is, presumably, a smudge or mark left behind by a Chri. A 'Christian' is a follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Compare 'athiest'.
  • "chute" (a slide or duct, as in a laundry chute) misused for "shoot" (in the specific case I read, "a young growing plant")
    • Bamboo chutes are not something you'd eat, then.
    • Or vice versa. Pharaonic Guardian was a dark time for ~Yu-Gi-Oh!~ fans.
    • This error cropped up in the official subtitles of the Stellvia DVDs.
      • Most official subs and dubs can't hold a candle to the more popular of fansubs. It's really fansub's raison d'etre, except in cases where official subs don't exist (then, fansubs may be quite crude).
    • The subtitles on the official DVD of The IT Crowd series 4 make the opposite mistake, referring to the "shoot" of an arcade crane game.
    • "chute" is actually a false friend for Spanish speakers, as "chute" is the subjunctive conjugation for the verb "chutar" which is actually synonymous to "disparar" (shoot) when the object being shot is a toy ball or soccer ball, and the propeller are the shooter's feet.
  • Regarding the CIA, while not an error per se, it's considered extra swanky in espionage circles to refer to intelligence institutions as proper names (as per Coke, Xerox or Ozymandias), hence without the leading article, the as in I worked for CIA during the Reagan years before selling out to KGB. Lay folk will still call it the CIA.
  • "circumflex", "^", is sometimes confused with a "tilde", "~", both diacritical marks and, astonishingly enough, sometimes professional linguists make this mistake.
  • "click" vs. "clique"
    • Also "clique" vs. "cliche" (which is actually a misspelling of "cliché", though it has become the accepted spelling and spell-checkers recognize the correct spelling as a misspelled word).
      • Never "click" vs. "cliche", though; it seems to be that the problem is that people remember that despite sounding like "click", the word they're looking for is spelled very differently, only they have no idea what that spelling is.
  • "clinch" vs. "clench"
    • Unfortunately, these words are largely synonymous. According to my dictionary:
      • clinch means to clutch something tightly; to press your teeth together; to pound down the end of a nail into a hook; or to make an argument definitive and final. It can also mean a boxing maneuver.
      • clench means to pound down the end of a nail; to hold something tightly; to make a fist; or to press your teeth together.
    • Tell that to anyone who's ever clenched a victory (or clinched their teeth, for that matter)
  • "cloths" (pieces of cut fabric) for "clothes" (stuff you wear, made out of pieces of cut fabric)
    • Or "cloves." Yeah, took a while for this editor to figure out that "clothes" was the intended word.
    • "... and normal people close because he was in his office lab coat."
  • "clustered" (gathered in a tightly-packed group) vs. "cloistered" (hidden away from the world)
  • "coach" (advise, motivate; or a variety of vehicle, often horse-drawn) vs. "couch" (item of furniture; or adjusting one's choice of words or phrasing for a specific purpose)
  • "codecs" (devices or programs for converting analogue signals into digital signals and back) vs. "codex" (a book). The Galactic Codex is the Encyclopedia Exposita telling players about the Mass Effect universe; the Galactic Codecs are possibly involved in its communication system.
    • CODEC is an abbreviation for Coder / Decoder not unlike MODEM or RADAR.
  • "collage" (an artform composed of individual pieces of paper assembled into a whole) vs. "college" (where you go after high school)
    • Also, "colleague" (as in co-worker).
  • "common" as a faux abbreviation for "come on". Come on, people, if you must abbreviate it, it's "c'mon". "Common" is a whole other word. A common one, in fact.
    • These people, I assure you, are running no common inn. (although there are common rooms... but that's a whole different use)
  • "complex" (consisting of more than one part) vs. "complicated" (consisting of very many parts; sophisticated). This is especially a pitfall in mathematics or computer programming, where "complex" has one very specific meaning; one freeware calculator was claimed to be capable of "complex" calculations (those involving the square root of -1) but wasn't (obviously the author meant "complicated"), and many of the negative comments on it picked up on this.
  • "compliant" (obedient, agreeable) for "complaint" (expression of dissatisfaction)
  • "compliment" (speak well of) vs. "complement" (go well with)
    • Also "complimentary" (offering praise; also, free) vs. "complementary" (being a counterpart of; completing)
  • "conciseness" (the state of being brief and to the point in your verbiage) for "consciousness" (the state of being aware of the world around you)
  • "confidant" (someone with whom you share secrets; sometimes written with a terminal "e") vs. "confident" (certain of one's ability or course of action)
  • "conscious" (awake, aware) for "conscience" (one's moral or ethical "guiding voice")
    • "subconscious" for "self-conscious"
  • "consul" (a diplomatic envoy or an ancient Roman official) for "console" (a box in which electronic hardware is mounted).
  • "convient" is not a synonym for or variant of "convenient". It's just misspelled.
    • Nor is convent (type of monastery, generally all-female)
  • "copyleft" (eggcorn/neologism) for "copyright" (permission to copy). I once corresponded with the guy who was Rights And Permissions Manager for UK ISP Dial Pipex (and probably still is); he confirmed what I already suspected, that although "copyleft" is fine as an in-joke amongst programmers, it's totally worthless when it comes to establishing or defending one's intellectual property rights -- no court in the world recognises it.
  • "coronate" and "coronated" are not words. The words you're looking for are "crown" and "crowned". One is crowned during a coronation ceremony--though only, of course, if one is the Queen.
  • "coronet" (a small crown) instead of "cornet" (a musical instrument similar to a trumpet; also, a pastry cone, usually filled with whipped cream chocolate). As neither is a particularly common word, fanfiction writers tend to get this one wrong.
  • "costumers" instead of "customers".
    • At Hallowe'en, the costumers see an increase in their customers.
  • "council" (a group of people, often a governing body of some sort) vs. "counsel" (advice, advise or a lawyer)
  • "could of" as eye dialect for "could have" or "could've"; similarly "would of" and "should of." If you must render it in dialect, "coulda / woulda / shoulda" will get the point across and confuse fewer people.
  • "could care less" as a replacement for "couldn't care less". Here the author is writing the exact opposite of what is meant (which may be either a mix-up of one's words, or using Sarcasm Mode). Saying you "couldn't care less" is analogous to saying that things "couldn't possibly be worse" -- in other words, in the former case, you don't care at all, and in the latter case, things are as bad as they can possibly be.
    • "Could care less" is technically "correct" in US English. That said, it still makes no sense whatsoever, as David Mitchell explains here. (Various rationalisations have been offered, such as that saying "could care less" has an implicit "...but it would take enormous effort". Well, perhaps. It still originated simply as a mistake.)
  • The term is "Coup d'état" - from the French, literally "strike of the state," and either uncapitalized or with a primary "C" capital at the start of a sentence - not the eggcorns "Coup de Tat" (meaningless), nor "Cou de tête" (neck of head?), nor anything else. Ever. Similarly, "Coup de grâce" (mercy strike), not "Coup de gras" (a blow to the fat, apparently).
  • "crawler" for "cruller". This is a wonderful eggcorn, but I'd rather have a donut than something that creeps on the ground any day.
  • "crinching" for "cringing"
  • "cubical" (shaped like a cube) for "cubicle" (a box in which to work, change clothes, go to the toilet etc.)
    • "Cubicle" is of course derived from "cubical", although most cubicles aren't actually cubical.
  • "Cumber bun", an eggcorn for "cummerbund" (the pleated sash-like covering that goes around your waist when you wear a tuxedo).
  • "cumin" (a plant with aromatic seeds used in cooking) for "coming" (to be arriving somewhere or having an orgasm), probably a consequence of chatspeak plus overactive spellchecker.
  • "dammed" (said of a watercourse that has been blocked to form a lake) for "damned" (having had one's soul condemned to Hell)
  • "dampening" (making damp) for "damping" (reducing movement). If you want to stop inertia from turning the crew of your spaceship into chunky salsa, you should use inertial dampers, which would damp inertia. Inertial dampeners utilize the resistance of mass to force to moisturize an area.
  • Datum is the singular of data. "This data is" is wrong; it should really be "these data are" or "this datum is". "Data point" is however an acceptable synonym for "datum", especially in technical writing.
    • Unless you treat data as a mass noun, which is acceptable in informal usage. (Even then, the Brits use plural pronouns when referring to mass nouns: "On the advice of James Bond, MI-6 has have decided to protect you.")
  • "dawn" for "sunrise". Dawn is actually the twilight period before sunrise, just as the twilight after sunset is dusk.
  • "dead beet" (a no-longer-living root vegetable) for "deadbeat" (a lazy person, or one who defaults on debts).
  • "dead wringer" (deceased twister of soaked cloth), an eggcorn for "dead ringer" (a virtual twin of another person).
  • "debait" for "debate". OK, maybe some people are too eager to enter a debate, letting their hobby horse trample all over it, but "debaiting" as a method to prevent this sounds rather fishy.
  • "debase" (humiliate, degrade, or corrupt) for "disabuse" (to free from a falsehood or misconception).
  • "defiant" (disobedient) for "definite" (certain). This seems to be the fault of the misspelling "definate" combined with misguided spelling checkers.
  • Special note for illiterate authors of Buffy fanfic: It's "demon," not "deman".
    • And neither is it "daemon"; that's something you'll find on a computer running any of the UNIX flavours (though it may also be an entirely different class of fiend, depending on what setting you're writing in).
      • And if, by chance, that's the meaning you seek, it's "daemon", not "deamon".
      • Both, however, are derived from "δαίμων" (daimôn), "supernatural beings between mortals and gods, such as inferior divinities and ghosts of dead heroes", according to Plato.
      • In post-enlightenment usage, a daemon is a construct of human origin, such as a golem forged from the elements, usually to serve a specific purpose. A demon is an entity (perhaps a spirit) from beyond the pale (sometimes way beyond) and usually disinclined to serve unless compelled by extortion or magical binds.
      • Using the term 'daemon' in purely English text (not a Latin or Greek quotation) while referring to malevolent creature is more a case of Altem Videtur or Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe than an spelling error.
      • And all available from your friendly neighbourhood Daimon, with convenient outlets on Vulcan and the Klingon Homeworld; don't forget to visit our lovely main store on Ferenginar.
    • Also, don't confuse any of these with "Damon", which is a rather uncommon given name. (A variant of Damien/Damian, perhaps.)
  • "depilated" (stripped of hair) for "dilapidated" (said of a building that is in danger of falling down)
  • "desert" (noun: an area of dry land; verb: to abandon something) vs. "dessert" (the sweet course of a meal). Neither should be confused with "desert" (noun: something deserved), spelled like the dry area but pronounced like the sweet, and seen mainly in the phrase "just deserts."
  • One of the most unusual misspellings I've ever seen is "devilruss" for "devilish", as in "devilish laughter", from "Illusion" by chaoseternus.
    • Probably itself a misspelling of "devilrous", which is not a word but would get the point across.
  • "devise" (verb, = to build or create) for "device" (noun, = gadget). See Whateley Universe for a special case.
    • Similarly, "devise" for "divine" (in the sense of determine or discover, as in "to divine someone's motive"; this is the sense of the word as used in "divining rod")
  • "dice" is plural. You cannot have a dice, or roll a dice, or anything. The singular is "die". "Rolling a dice" is like "walking a dogs".
  • "diety" for "deity". A deity is a god, diety is not a word (but it looks like a way to lose weight).
    • God Lite, now with 30% less Hell And Damnation! Easier on your conscience!
  • "different from" (correct) vs. "different to" (nonstandard) vs. "different than" (utterly wrong).
    • If you get confused, look at it in terms of motion. If you strip the word "different" down to its Latin roots, it means "bringing away" ("-ent" usually more-or-less equals "-ing".) So if, say, Neon Genesis Evangelion and other Humongous Mecha series are different, it's because they're diverging, moving away from each other, Evangelion is going off on its own, etc. And you can't diverge to something, or move away than it. So it has to be "from."
      • It's even easier to re-parse the sentence mentally so it uses the verb 'to differ'. Nothing will ever differ to or differ than anything; things will only ever differ from one another.
        • The first (differ to) may be a mistake for "defer to," which is something else entirely.
  • "differential" (A calculus computation for the derivative; also a vehicle component and a term used in the medical phrase "differential diagnosis") for "deferential" (respectful, yielding)
  • "diffuse" (adj, = spread out, thin or wispy; or verb, = to make something achieve that state) vs. "defuse" (to reduce or eliminate the volatility or explosive possibility of a situation or object)
    • Defusing a bomb the wrong way might well cause you to be diffused.
    • Related: "disperse" vs. "dispose". It's not the "bomb dispersal squad".
      • Although some will dispose of their rubbish by dispersing it.
  • "dinning" (making a din, which is a noun for "loud unpleasant noise") vs. "dining" (eating a meal). One can make a din when dining, but correlation does not prove causation.
  • "dire rear" for "diarrhoea" -- a hilariously apt eggcorn, but an eggcorn nonetheless.
  • "disburse" (pay out money) for "disperse" (scatter, spread about, diffuse)
  • "discreet" (cautiously secretive) for "discrete" (in distinct pieces or amounts). And vice versa. The noun-form of "discreet" is "discretion", though, which doesn't help.
  • "Disguarded" for "discarded". Another perfect eggcorn.
  • "Disinterested" (impartial) vs. "Uninterested" (lacking interest in a thing or situation): "Judges should always be disinterested, but never uninterested, in the cases before them".
  • "dissemble" (obfuscate, lie) for "disassemble" (take apart)
  • "dose" (a prescribed amount) vs. "doze" (sleep lightly, drowse) vs. "does" (third person present tense of "to do," or more-than-one female deer, depending on the pronunciation).
  • "dottering" (a variety of medical procedure) for "doddering" (senile)
  • "dotting" (making dots) vs. "doting" (maternally solicitous)
  • "dower" (property settled by a groom on his bride, which generally doesn't become payable until his death) vs. "dour" (severe, harsh, stern)
  • "Draw" when what is meant is "drawer" (sliding box with a handle in a cabinet, dresser or chest). This is a perfect example of eye dialect -- many people swallow the sound of the final "r" in the word, pronouncing it as "draw-ah", which eventually gets worn down to, and written as, "draw".
    • Unless you're from the midwest and pronounce it "droor," like door with an r.
    • Most women keep their draws in drawers.
  • "drawer" is a sliding shelf. One who draws is an artist. (Or a draftsman, depending on context.)
    • Or a gunman.
  • "drawl" for "draw"
  • "drowned" as present-tense, not just in writing but in speech. Played for laughs in Addams Family Values, where a swimming rescue simulation has the aspiring actress cry out "Help! I'm drownding!" The past tense then becomes "drownded," which is even more bizarre.
  • "drudge" (scullery maid, scutworker, blog author) for "dredge" (scrape the bottom of something, such as a river; or coat something in a powder, such as flour or sugar)
  • One of the strangest mistakes I've seen is "dschungle" for "jungle." I can only assume that the author was a non-native English speaker and unaware of the letter j, substituting the closest phoneme he could think of.
  • "dying" (ceasing life functions) for "dyeing" (recoloring).
  • "edged" (put a decorative border around, or describing a cutting edge) for "etched" (incised or burnt into a surface with a caustic chemical). "Etched" should also not be confused with "engraved" (incised into a surface with a tool).
  • One malapropism on this very wiki (The Simpsons (animation)/WMG) is "edict" (n., formal proclamation) for "eidetic" (adj., (of memory) total-recall).
  • "edition" (revision or printing of something) for "addition" (something that is added to something)
  • "effluent" (water outflow, frequently sewage) vs. "affluent" (wealthy); despite the phrase "filthy stinking rich", these should never be confused.
  • "Egregious" (exceptional, from the Latin ex gregaris "not of the flock") should be avoided; it originally meant "exceptionally good" (which presumably is how Douglas Adams used it in Dirk Gentlys Holistic Detective Agency) but now more often means "exceptionally bad" (e.g. the error in the ZX Spectrum game Xavior whereby the end-game routine doesn't work). George Orwell fell into this trap in his essay "Politics and the English Language" (which has little or nothing to do with politics); he accused one Professor Hogben of not knowing what "egregious" meant, when the problem was that Hogben was using it in the modern sense instead of the original one. (Orwell was being hypocritical in his accusation, since he clearly failed to realise that a "battery" is an array of similar things (e.g. a battery of floodlights or of cannon) or that "to prescribe" means to state what must be, as opposed to "to describe" which merely states what is. Hogben's usage was thus correct.)
  • "either... or" when used to describe more than two things. "Either A, B, or C" is wrong; it should be "A, B, or C" or possibly "Either A or B".
  • "elude" (to avoid or escape) for "allude" (to refer to indirectly; noun form: "allusion")
  • "eminent" (exalted) for "imminent" (about to happen).
    • Also "immanent" (inherently part of something).
  • "empress" (noun, female ruler of an empire) for "impress" (verb, to get a favorable or awed reaction from)
    • But often an empress is dressed to impress.
  • "emulate" (to behave in a similar way) for "immolate" (to set fire to). Although some emulations are so poor that immolation is the only sensible remedy, and conversely, emulating Thich Quang Duc involves immolation.
  • "enormity" for "enormousness". "Enormity" means "huge badness," not "hugeness."
    • According to Bill Bryson, Ronald Reagan fell victim to this one, saying when he won the presidential election that he "could not believe the enormity of what had happened".
      • Nor could his rivals.
  • "en-scrolling" for "ensorcelling". Possibly a spellchecker-caused error, as it's difficult to see how it could be made otherwise. Of course, why you would use the word "ensorcelling" at all is beyond me.
  • "entropy" (a physics term for the amount of increasing disorder/disorganization in a system such as the principle defining the eventual heat-death of the universe, among other meanings) for "atrophy" (deteriorate from lack of use)
  • "envelop" (to wrap up in; to surround entirely; to conceal or obscure) vs. "envelope" (a cover for a letter; the fabric structure enclosing the gasbag of a balloon or airship, or the upper and lower operational limits for a device)
  • "erogenous" (giving rise to sexual pleasure) for "erroneous" (wrong). Quite possibly a Freudian Slip, or risen from a cloudy memory of the 1977 self-help book Your Erroneous Zones by Wayne Dwyer.
  • "erstwhile" (former) for "out-of-line" or "poorly behaved." Your companion may behave objectionably, but he's not an erstwhile companion unless you no longer associate with him.
  • "eschatological" (having to do with the end of days) vs. "scatological" (having to do with feces or obscenity in general). Admittedly, anyone who actually knows one of these words is probably unlikely to use it incorrectly, but any context in which the mistake can be made is liable to be rather grating. But don't sweat it: this shit ain't the end of the world.
  • "-esk", an misspelling of "-esque" (a suffix meaning "like" or "resembling", e.g. "picturesque" = "like a picture").
  • "etc." or "et cetera" (Latin for "and others", suggests alternative examples) vs. "and so on" (which suggests repetition)
    • Similarly, e.g. (exempli gratia - Latin meaning "for example") versus "i.e." (id est - Latin meaning "that is") The former term is for offering examples of the preceding word/statement, the latter is for clarifying the meaning of the previous statement by restating it in simpler terms.
    • Even worse, "ect." (electro-convulsive therapy) for "etc."
  • "evade" (dodge, escape) for "avoid" (stay away from).
    • Especially found in relation to taxes. Tax avoidance is using shrewd accounting and/or Loophole Abuse to legally minimise the amount of tax one pays; tax evasion is illegally not paying taxes one should be.
  • "everyday" (ordinary) for "every day" (occurring during each 24-hour period)
  • "evidentially" (having to do with the existence or state of being of evidence) vs. "evidently" (apparently, seemingly)
  • "exasperate" (to annoy or irritate) for "exacerbate" (to make something worse than it already is)
  • "exercise" for "exorcise". It's the difference between Richard Simmons and Linda Blair.
  • "exiting" (leaving through the out door) for "exciting" (giving or encouraging a heightened state of thrill or energy)
  • There was once an electronics catalogue which had several (often hilarious) spelling errors. Probably the funniest was the part described as an "expendable logic gate" (instead of "expandable") -- perhaps it included a self-destruct circuit.
  • "extend" (as in "extended leave") for "extent" (as in "to a lesser extent")
  • "exulted" (rejoiced, showed triumphant joy) for "exalted" (lofty, elevated)
  • "eye" (organ of vision) for "aye" (agreement from a seaman)
  • "facism" (something to do with faces, presumably) for "fascism" (a political ideology).
  • "fallow" (a field plowed and tilled but not planted) for "follow" (come after, pursue). Also, "fallowing" (enriching a field's soil by plowing and tilling but not planting) for "following" (subsequent, coming after). Unless the story is set on a farm, the author probably meant the latter.
  • "fare" (food, as in a "bill of fare;" also, a fee charged for transportation) for "fair".
  • "faucet" (plumbing fixture which dispenses water) for "facet" (any of the flat surfaces of a gem, alternately any of the details or aspects of an object or situation)
  • "feet" (things at the ends of your legs; no, the other ends) vs. "feat" (accomplishment)
  • "Feint" for "faint". "To faint" means that someone's collapsed into unconsciousness, usually from shock. A "feint" is a deceptive tactic intended to make an opponent move into a weak position.
  • "Felicity" (a female given name, originally meaning "happiness" though the common noun "felicity" also means "aptness") for "facility" (ease of use).
    • Also not to be confused with the above is "fidelity" (faithfulness).
  • "fiancé" and "fiancée". This one's French through and through, so "fiancé" (without the final E) is the man you're going to be married to, and "fiancée" (with the extra "e") is the woman.
  • "Filler-buster" instead of "filibuster" (eggcorn written by an Australian who was not familiar with the U.S. legislature).
    • "Philibuster" instead of "filibuster"
  • "Firry" or "firey" for "fiery"
    • In recent years "firey" is gaining usage in Australian English for "fire brigade member" or "firemen (and firewomen?)" or "firefighters". It's one of those slang Australian diminutives we love like garbo (garbage man) or ambo (ambulance driver/Emergency Medical Technician).
      • Do the garbage collectors vant to be alone?
    • But Danny John-Jules was the voice of two of the Fireys in Labyrinth.
  • "flair" (special ability, or stylishness) for "flare" (a sudden burst of light or intensity; what trousers did in the '70s).
  • "flaunt" and "flout" are often confused, perhaps because both actions are often performed blatantly or brazenly. To "flaunt" your possessions or attributes is to show them off. To "flout" a law is to break it. "Lady Godiva flouted the law by flaunting her body in public."
  • What properties a "flourescent tube" would have as opposed to a "fluorescent tube"? Disperse finely ground wheat when you switch it on, perhaps?
  • "fool moon" for "full moon" (May be a simple typo, but it's unintentionally amusing. Or it may be an intentional reference to the title of the second Harry Dresden novel by Jim Butcher.)
  • "For all intensive purposes." For those of you going, "well, what's wrong with that?", the phrase actually is "for all intents and purposes". It means, basically, "for any possible reason", not "for those reasons which are particularly strong or sharply felt". "For all intensive purposes," in comparison, is a briefer way of saying, "If you plan to put this object to intense use," but how often does anyone say that?
    • Well, maybe those using it are all in tents, and porpoises?
    • "Well, sir, if you're just wanting to do casual DIY then this basic drill will suffice, but if you're willing to invest in a more resilient model like this, then it will also be suitable for all intensive purposes". Or something like that. You did ask.
  • "foreboding" (implying or forecasting ill events) for "forbidding" (frighteningly impressive, as well as its more common usage).
  • "forward" (direction) for "forewarned" (given advance warning).
  • "foreword" (part of a book) for "forward" (direction).
  • "Formally" instead of "formerly".
  • "forth" (a direction) for "fourth" (a number) -- seen a lot in Harry Potter fics ("forth year")
    • Forth is also a programming language.
  • "I found up the bank". From context, the activity wasn't "looking for" but rather "contacting by telephone", so it's not just an overly zealous spell chequer add spell-checker at work here. In the same paragraph was "I then walked her throw how easy it was".
  • "founder" (n. a person who starts something, v. to sink, literally or metaphorically) vs. "flounder" (n. a fish, v. to thrash about in the water)
  • If something is more free than something else, it is "freer". It isn't "free-er", which looks like someone hesitating mid-sentence. Bonus points if you draw attention to your error by spelling it with quotation marks.
    • Many linguists would argue that "freer" is just as invalid as "free-er". Free should be an absolute, something is either free or not.
  • "furry" (covered in fur or a member of a certain fandom) instead of "fury" (intense anger and rage)
  • "gambol" (to dance or caper about) for "gamble" (to make a bet or take a chance)
    • This confusion was deliberately used as a pun by the management of Windsor Greyhound Track, whose restaurant was called "Eton Gambol" (Eton being the name of the local district -- yes, as in the famous public school).
  • "Good rithens". Would this qualify as an eggcorn when "rithens" is not even a word?
    • Of course; some would even call it a perfect eggcorn.
    • Probably a misinterpretation of "good riddance".
      • Well, yes, that's the point.
  • "graduated" (calibrated, divided into degrees, granted an academic degree or diploma) for "gravitated" (to drawn inexorably towards something)
  • It's "grammar" not "grammer"! An easy typo yes, but all to easy to misinterpret. "Is it a typo of "grammar" or "gramme" I wonder?"
  • "grate" (a frame of iron bars, as part of a fireplace; or a harsh rasping sound) for "great" (really good).
  • The Star Wars character and the adjective are both spelled "grievous". Not "grevious".
    • And while we're on the subject, they're both pronounced the same way too: "gree-vus", not "greevy-us".
  • "grizzly" (a type of brown bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) found in Alaska, western Canada, and parts of the northwestern United States) for "grisly" (terrifying, horrible), or vice versa. A grizzly bear attack could cause grisly wounds to its victim.
    • Note that according to The Other Wiki this confusion was the reason for that "horribilis" in the species name.
  • "Gunnery" (the skill of using really big cannons to blow holes in things) for "gurney" (a wheeled cot used to transport injured or ill persons).
  • "H2O" (the chemical formula for water) -- the final "O" is an uppercase letter, not a number (except in Look Around You, but Elements Do Not Work That Way). The same goes for C-3PO.
    • And O2, and N2O. Technically, the numbers should also be in subscript, but few have ready access to a subscript option on a keyboard.
  • "hanger" (that thing you put your clothes on) for "hangar" (where you keep your zeppelins, planes and helicopters)
  • "hansom" (a horse-drawn taxi) for "handsome" (good looking)
  • "heal" (get better) for "heel" (back bottom of your foot)
  • "Here, here!" for "Hear, hear!" an eggcorn found in the first paragraph of this article in ESPN The Magazine, which supposedly employs editors. Enjoy the extra "i" in signify and the erroneous apostrophe in "Awards" at no extra cost!
  • "heroin" (a drug) for "heroine" (a female protagonist), seen a lot in Fan Fiction summaries.
  • "hey-stack" (a pile of shouted greetings) for "haystack" (a pile of hay), a misspelling that appeared right here on the Wiki, on Tropes Examined by the Mythbusters.
  • "hole" (a gap, pit or aperture) vs. "whole" (all of something). There was graffiti referring to someone as an "arsewhole", leaving the viewer to wonder whether being the entirety of someone's backside was worse than simply being its associated orifice.
  • "hologram" for any type of stereogram. A hologram is specifically the kind of stereogram which records and replays the wavefront emitted by the object; other types of stereogram, which use two (or sometimes more) separate (2D) images to create the 3D effect, are most decidedly not holograms. The most recent (as of November 2010) example is the 3-disc Special Collectors' Edition of Avatar sold at Tesco (UK) stores, which includes a pack of four so-called "hologram" art cards which are actually parallax stereograms.
  • And while we're on the subject; "holograph" for "holgram". A holograph is a document entirely written by the person who signed it.
  • "holy" (sacred) vs. "wholly" (completely, absolutely). Kipling punningly used both versions -- correctly -- in one of his poems: "Holy People, however it runs, Endeth in Wholly Slave." Similarly, the Discordians have "To diverse gods/Do mortals bow:/Holy cow/And Wholly Chao."
  • "hollowed" (having its interior scooped out) vs. "hallowed" (holy, revered, honored)
    • Oh, and "Deathly Hollows"? They're holes that will kill you. Likewise, the reverse also applies -- it's not "Godric's Hallow" unless the entire town has been consecrated.
  • Homo sapiens is not a plural, it's the official name for Earth's dominant clothed primate species. It means "wise man". So referring to yourself or anyone else as a "homo sapien" is incorrect.
  • "horde" (a mob) vs. "hoard" (a large cache of treasure, or to collect and preserve something obsessively)
  • "hostler" (a person employed to look after the horses at an inn) and "holster" (an apparatus for carrying a gun)
  • "hungry" (possessed of the urge to eat) vs. "Hungary" (a country)
  • "hung" (the act of having put something up on a wall) vs. "hanged" (the act of dangling a person by the neck until dead, often used as a form of execution). Crops up in A Song of Ice and Fire: "Your father was not a tapestry, dear."
  • "-idge" for "-age" - beveridge, leveridge, adidge (or just adige) and so on.
  • "I.e." does not mean "in example" (which should be obvious, as that isn't even a phrase; the English is "for example"). It is Latin for id est, translated as "that is." This is used for clarification of a previous phrasing, i.e. to restate something in terms easier to understand. What you are looking for is "e.g." (exempli gratia).
    • E.g., the statement above.
    • Also, both of them get periods after both letters. "i.e." and "e.g.", not "ie." or "eg."
  • "illicit" (illegal, immoral or otherwise under-the-counter) for "elicit" (encourage or motivate)
  • "illusion" (seeing something (that is actually there) wrongly) vs. "hallucination" ("seeing" something that isn't there). George Orwell got this one wrong in his essay on seaside postcards.
  • "imminently" (in a manner that is about to happen) vs. "eminently" (usually meaning "extraordinarily good for" or "better than most at") vs. "immanently" (existing within, inherent).
  • "impetuous" (having low impulse control) for "impetus" (inspiration or motive for doing something)
  • "improving" (progressively getting better) vs. "improvising" (coming up with ideas and plans on the spur of the moment). Although this one smells of a spellchecker "correction".
  • "incongruent" (not congruent) for "incongruous" (standing out; lacking harmony with [figurative]). To be fair, some dictionaries list "incongruent" as a word meaning "incongruous".
  • "infinitesimal" (so little as to be almost non-existent) for "infinite" (absolutely limitless).
  • "in a tether" (within a rope tied to something), an eggcorn for "in a dither" (seized by a whirlwind of emotion).
  • "inciteful" (provocative, troublemaking) for "insightful" (perceptive, understanding) -- probably an eggcorn and extremely common.
  • "inter-" (between) for "intra-" (within)
  • "interpretive", which isn't a word, for "interpretative", which is.
  • "interrupt" (break into the middle of) for "interpret" (translate, render meaningful). This has the look of a spellchecker "fix" for a particularly bad typo.
  • "it's" (short form of "it is") for "its" (something belonging to it). Kill It with Fire. Violaters Violators will be Gannon Banned.
    • Pronouns don't use apostrophes for possessives, but rather special forms (he/his, she/hers, me/mine, you/yours, they/theirs). "It" is a pronoun, and "its" is the special possessive form. ("One" is the sole exception; its possessive, "one's", does have the apostrophe.)
  • For that matter, "it's" for "is". This one gives Spanish speakers a lot of trouble (the Spanish word "es" means both "it's" and "is").
  • "just desserts" instead of "just deserts"; the term "desert(s)" in this meaning (Etymology 1 here) is otherwise little-used
  • "kerb" (noun) is the edging of a footpath or pavement; "curb" (noun) is a horse's bit that incorporates a chain or strap, or more broadly a check or restraint. One cannot kick something to the curb (at least, not without injuring a perfectly innocent horse). One can only kick it to the kerb.
    • ...At least, not under the Queen's English. In American usage, "curb" has replaced "kerb" entirely.
  • "lady", easy word it seems at first, but be careful how many "d" you write in that word, because "laddy" is a man.
  • "laissez-faire" (a policy of government non-intervention, from the French meaning "allow to do [something]") has been misspelled so many times in so many different ways (the eggcorn "lazy fair" is common) on the official forum for the 4X game Victoria an Empire Under The Sun that one member maintains a list of spellings he's seen.
    • For those wondering, the pronunciation is roughly "less-ay fair".
  • "latter" (the second of two things) is often wrongly used, either for "last" (the final item in a list of any size) or as if it meant "the thing just mentioned".
  • "leach" (verb, to percolate, usually through something) for "leech" (noun, a bloodsucking worm).
  • "leak" (a release of something that shouldn't have been) vs. "leek" (a vegetable, sometimes spun).
  • "leary" (a name, as in Timothy Leary) for "leery" (wary or suspicious).
    • Also "leery" vs. "lairy" (drunkenly aggressive).
  • "least" (smallest, most insignificant) for "lest" (for fear that/so that one should not)
  • "led" (past tense of "to lead") and "lead" (soft, heavy dark grey metal).
  • "lei line" (a series of Polynesian flower necklaces) or "lay line" (not sure, but probably NSFW) for "Ley Line" (a natural path of magical or magnetic energy)
  • "Lesion" (scar tissue) versus "liaison" (a designated contact person) versus "lessen/lesson" (see below)
  • "lesson" (a period of eduction) vs. "lessen" (reduce in quantity or intensity)
  • "lightening" (increasing the brightness level or reducing the weight) or "lighting" (sources of light) for "lightning" (bolt from the blue)
  • "liquorish", an eggcorn for "licorice"
    • Or meaning something which is akin to an alcoholic beverage.
  • "loathe" (verb) vs. "loath" (adjective).
  • "loop" (a circle or circular motion) for "loupe" (a kind of magnifying glass, used by jewelers) or "loup" (French for "wolf")
  • "loose" (not tight, or to release) for "lose" (not win, or to misplace, or to shake off pursuit)
  • "Low and behold" for "lo and behold". A simple case of not knowing or remembering the homophone "lo", which is a simple interjection roughly equivalent to "hey" or the British "oi!" "Lo and behold" literally means nothing more than, "Hey! Look at that!" It just sounds more formal.
    • Actually, "lo" means the same as "behold."
  • "LSD" (lysergic acid diethylamine, a hallucinogen) for "LCD" (liquid crystal display, a type of monitor). No, if you break open a Game Boy, you won't get drugs. Neither is to be confused with "LDS" for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest of the Mormon denominations (or the League Division Series, the first round of the MLB playoffs).
    • Unless, like Spock, you took too much LDS in the 1960s.
  • "lunge" (leap forward suddenly) vs. "lounge" (lay around comfortably)
  • A "maelstrom" is a very powerful whirlpool, one that can (according to The Little Mermaid) suck entire ships down. A "mealstorm" is not a thing, unless a food fight got wildly out of hand.
  • "Mahjong" for "Shanghai". Let's get our terms straight; Mahjong is a 19th-century Chinese game for four players, Shanghai is a tile-matching videogame (played with Mahjong tiles, but there the resemblance ends). This can be very frustrating for those seeking to buy a Mahjong game online, as nearly all so-called "Mahjong" games are actually Shanghai, and the error isn't always apparent from the description. (If buying a boxed game from a store, the box usually has one or more screenshots, and the nature of the game is evident from those.)
  • "make due" (force a deadline to expire immediately) for "make do" (improvise with available materials)
  • "manna" (food from Heaven) for "Mana" (the raw energy of magic)
  • "manor" (a house or estate) vs. "manner" (a way of doing something)
    • Someone of aristocratic birth is said to be "to the manner born"; as such people often live in manors, this confusion was punningly referenced by BBC sitcom To the Manor Born.
  • "mantel" (an ornamental structure above and around a fireplace) vs. "mantle" (something that covers, envelops or conceals; a long, sleeveless cloak; a layer of earth between crust and core; or the glowing element of a gas lamp). Of course, all five of these meanings come from the idea of "enclosure" (a fireplace's mantel surrounds it, a planet's mantle surrounds the core, a gas mantle surrounds the flame...).
  • "mash potatoes" (potatoes made from a slurry of barley malt and water), a misspelling of "mashed potatoes" (potatoes that are, well, mashed). Linguistic note: In British English, "mash" is acceptable as an abbreviation of "mashed potatoes", e.g. "bangers and mash".
  • "material arts" for "martial arts". The former might describe wood carving or pottery but not the art of fighting! Seen too many times in German Ranma fan-fiction.
    • See also: "Marital arts." In common parlance, anything described as marital (marital aid, marital bed, marital chambers, etc.) all refer to one thing. Specifically, keeping your spouse happy. In bed. Using your penis.
      • This was played with in one Discworld novel, in which the newlywed (and painfully shy) King of Lancre accidentally got a martial arts book instead of the marital arts book he'd intended to order. Still, it made the guy who was the sole member of the Lancrean Army happy...
    • In German fanfic? In German one would say Kampfkunst or Kampfsport.
  • "maroon" (to be left alone in a dangerous situation, originally on an island) and "moron" (someone of whom you have a low opinion)
    • This one can often be laid at the feet of Bugs Bunny, due to his penchant for the odd malaprop. ("What a maroon!")
      • Also: 'stupid morans'.
      • "Maroon" is also term referring to runaway slaves and ethnic groups that originated with runaway slaves[1], in addition to a color. Eastern Kentucky University had to change the name of its sports team from "The Maroons" (maroon is one of the school colors) to "The Colonels" as a direct result of this.
  • "marquis" (a title of nobility of hereditary rank) and "marquee" (an outdoor covering or sign on such a covering; an outdoor sign illuminated by flashing lights; by extension a flashing border (as in computer graphics)) The two words share a similar French derivation; the noble title is spelled as in French while the sign/border is spelled phonetically. Pronunciation is the same.
    • There was here an example of a sports writer who used "marquis" when apparently intending "marquee" - but he used it as an adjective implying a team was especially notable, i.e. (probably) "worthy of being billed on a marquee". It's not clear if this adjectival form is grammatically correct.
  • "Marshal" is the military/law enforcement title. "Marshall" is a proper name.
    • And please, karate and kung fu are not "marshal arts," even if it's pronounced the same.
  • "may" for "might." This is complicated because the two genuinely are interchangeable in many circumstances. But if you want to suggest something could have happened in the past, but didn't, then it's "might" every time. Thus "If only the ambulance had arrived sooner, the man might have survived," is correct, and tells us the man died, whereas "If only the ambulance had arrived sooner, the man may have survived," is impossible, as it suggests there is somehow still doubt as to whether he survived or not.
  • "may be" for "maybe". Both definitions are close and sound the same, the former is a verb phrase meaning "might be" or "could be" and the latter is an adverb meaning "perhaps" or "possibly." "Maybe I will go out tonight," and "I may be going out tonight" are examples of their correct usages.
  • Mediaeval / mediæval and medieval are acceptable spellings of the word used to describe something from the Middle Ages. It isn't, however, spelt Medievil. That would be something nasty from the Middle Ages.
  • "Menstruation" (a woman's monthly bleeding) for "ministrations" (administration). Shows up in many a bad Lemon.
  • "mid-air" vs. "midair". A subtle (and really picky) difference between American and British English that gets misused by BOTH communities. "Mid-air" is the American version and is used to describe a point or region in the air. "Midair" is the British version that describes some point above ground level in the air.
  • "middle ages" (500 AD through 1500 AD in Europe) for "middle age" (36 through 55 years in people)
  • "Mindsight" for "mindset." This is another perfect eggcorn.
  • "Minister" (a person who has a particular position within certain organisations) and "minster" (a type of church often associated with Northern England).
  • "Minus" (and likewise "times") as a verb. If you want to know what six less than seven is, you subtract. The expression would be read "seven minus six". By analogy, saying "times six by seven" is like saying "divided by six by seven", which makes no sense.
    • Similarly, referring to a subtraction operation such as 12-7 as a "sum" ("sum" seems to be commonly abused to mean any simple arithmetic) is incorrect. The products of each of the basic operations actually have their own name: addition gives you a "sum," subtraction gives you a "difference," multiplication gives you a "product" and division a "quotient."
      • Although, since subtraction is just the addition of a negative number to some other number, some persnickety mathematicians could argue that 12-7 is still a sum.
  • "Miniscule," despite being seen fairly commonly, is actually not a word. Something which is small, or perceived as small (such as most of the letters in this sentence), could be referred to as "minuscule" (indeed, small or lower-case letters were once called "minuscule" and capital letters "majuscule", though the latter word is rarely or never used nowadays), but "miniscule" probably resulted from confusing "minuscule" with "miniature", which has a similar meaning.
  • "miss" (opposite of "hit") for "mis" (prefix meaning "wrongly")
  • "mitten" (glove without separate fingers) for "midden" (garbage heap)
  • "moral" (adhering to strict principles of right and wrong) vs. "morale" (confidence, spirit, willingness to fight) vs. "morel" (a type of mushroom) .
    • Also, many a prominent person has talked about low "morality" when they meant low "morale".
  • "Murder" when what is meant is "murderer." If you are a "murder," you're most likely the victim (i.e., a corpse) and not the one who did the killing.
    • Either that or a group of crows. Crows are one of many animals that have a special name for their flock or herd —- a murder of crows, a flange of baboons, a flock of priests, etc.
    • German people are especially prone to this mistake because murder sounds almost like the German word "Mörder" (meaning murderer). Murder in German is "Mord".
  • "murderess" (obsolete feminine equivalent of "murderer") vs. "murderous" (homicidal).
  • "muslin" (a fabric) for "Muslim" (a follower of Islam).
    • As the caption of the "Obama: Half-Breed Muslin" image says, What's scarier, Obama being half-cloth half-human, or the fact that the person who made this sign still gets to vote?
  • "mute" (silent, incapable of speech) for "moot" (academic or irrelevant in American English, and debatable or disputed in British English, but silent in neither).
  • "mystic" (arcane, having to do with magic) vs. "mystique" (mysterious allure)
  • "naval" (having to do with a navy) for "navel" (belly button). A "navel cruiser" is too small to help anyone, and a "naval piercing" is infrequent these days, though supposedly it has an excellent success rate.
  • "Nameless" (not having a name) is not the same as "unnamed" (having a name that is currently undisclosed).
  • "Naturist" and "Naturalist" are two diferent things. The latter studies things in a natural state, the former likes being in a natural (i.e. unclothed, i.e. naked) state.
  • "nauseous" (causing nausea) for "nauseated" (experiencing nausea). "I feel nauseous," really means, "I'm in a mood to make people sick." Hardly anyone gets this right: to the point it may be a language shift in progress. It is used properly in the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" ("You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch, with a nauseous super-nauss.")
    • A good way to remember it: just as poisonous things make people poisoned, nauseous things make them nauseated.
  • Women wear nightgowns, men wear nightshirts.
    • Both can wear dressing gowns, however.
  • "now and days" for "nowadays" (eggcorn).
  • "nudity" (the state of wearing no clothes) vs. "nudism" (a philosophical movement and lifestyle associated with that).
  • "oblivious" for "obvious" -- the difference is between "unable to see it" and "unable to miss it."
  • "obsurd" -- eggcorn for "absurd."
  • "off of" rather than simply "off", "on" (as in "based on") or "from" (as in "take something off of someone"), although this has become something of a popular colloquialism and hence is probably acceptable in casual situations.
  • "ok" is not a word. The word is "okay" (or "OK" with both letters capitalized if you really feel the need to contract), and it's not a great word to use in writing anyway.
  • "on the lamb" (perched upon a young sheep) for "on the lam" (fleeing from officers of the law)
  • "once and a while" -- eggcorn for "once in a while."
  • "one in the same" -- eggcorn for "one and the same."
  • "ordinance" (a local law or religious ritual) vs. "ordnance" (weapons or ammunition).
  • "orgy" (a group sex act) vs. "orgasm" (what hopefully happens at the end of one) - sometimes seen in Lemons.
  • "orientated" is not a word. It's "oriented".
  • "Over" as a word vs. "over" as a prefix. This one is growing ever more frequent.
  • "pad" for "pat"
  • "pallet" (a wooden platform for shipping things; also a thin, flat bedroll) vs. "palette" (a flat surface, often a thin board, which artists use to hold and blend paint) vs. "palate" (part of your mouth; colloquially, your sense of taste)
  • "paper machete" (a large knife made of paper) for "paper mache"/"papier mache" (sculpting medium made up of shredded/chopped paper and glue)
  • 'parsimonious' means 'miserly', and is not a synonym for 'concise'.
  • "passed" (moved in front of) vs. "past" (history)
  • "pause" (stop, usually briefly) vs. "paws" (the feet of most mammals)
    • Similarly, "pause" (see above) vs. "pose" (staying still for a photograph or a painting)
      • Just remember: A cat has claws at the end of its paws, while a complex sentence has a pause at the end of the clause.
  • "Payroll officer" for "parole officer". Arguably, this could be a spellchecker error, but it has the look of an eggcorn to it.
    • "Payroll" has more to do with money and financial matters than "parole," though it is entirely possible for a parole officer to be on somebody's payroll.
      • A payroll officer could well be a real job (someone working in the office of the payroll division) but it has nothing to do with criminal justice.
  • "peace of mind", not "piece of mind."
    • Unless you're giving someone a "piece of your mind," but under those circumstances you are trying to disturb that person's peace of mind.
  • "peak" (mountain) vs. "peek" (sneak a look) vs. "pique" (either whet, as in "pique an interest"; or a minor state of bad temper, as in "a fit of pique")
  • "peel" (skin of a fruit) for "peal" (loud succession of sounds, such as the ringing of bells). You cannot break into "peels of laughter".
  • "pedaller" (someone riding a bike) for "peddler" (itinerant seller of small portable goods).
  • "pendantic" (having to do with necklaces) for "pedantic" (sounding like Ben Stein)
  • The plural of "penis" is "penises" (or "penes" if you're a real stickler for the Latin). It's not the same as the singular, nor is it "penii" or any variation on that, no matter how much funnier that construction is.[3]
    • And "penal" does not mean "relating to the penis". That would be "penile".
  • The Latin phrase "per se" -- which means, literally, "by itself" -- spawns a lot of eggcorns. It's not "per say", "persay", "percy" (!) or anything else like that.
  • "Perscriptivism" for "prescriptivism" was found on this wiki. Like "perserve" below, probably based on a very common non-standard pronunciation of "per" for "pre."
  • "Perserve" may be how some people pronounce "preserve," but it's not correct spelling.
    • And "persevere" is something completely different.
  • "personal" (relating to an individual) vs. "personnel" (the body of persons employed in any work). The Alex comic strip managed to get a great joke out this cofusion
  • "pharoah" (NO!) vs. "pharaoh"
  • "Phase" (part of a cycle or sequence, usually one that repeats on a regular basis; a derivative meaning covers things that come into sync with each other, or which make a transition (say, from intangibility to tangibility)) vs. "faze" (to evoke a stunned, surprised or shocked reaction in someone).
    • Mark Twain made this mistake, and there are many people who will bitch if you use this (these) frequently-misspelt word(s) correctly, just because they expect 'faze' to be itself a misspelling.
  • One Star Trek trivia list includes the "split infinitives are grammatically incorrect" nonsense (they aren't, English is not Latin) yet earlier says "this phenomena", which is grammatically incorrect (it should be "this phenomenon"). Likewise, a single item from the list is a trivium and a single requirement is a criterion (only if you have several requirements are they criteria).
  • "pheonix" (completely wrong) for "phoenix", a mythical firebird that has given its name to a city in Arizona, a superheroine from the X-Men, and more.
  • "physic" (an archaic way of saying "medicine") versus "psychic" (having or relating to powers of the mind) was found on this very wiki.
  • "physician" (a medical doctor) vs. "physicist" (a scientist specialising in the study of matter and energy)
  • "planer" (a tool for smoothing wood) for "planar" (flat; or having to do with two-dimensional geometric forms; or having to do with planes of existence in a fantasy universe, especially Dungeons and Dragons).
    • Magic: The Gathering has "plains" as a basic land type and "planes" as its term for worlds in its multiverse. For extra fun, it also has "plainswalk" (creatures with this ability are unblockable if the defending player controls a plains), "planeswalk" (to cross from one plane to another), "Planeswalkers" (those who can planeswalk), and "plainswalkers" (creatures with the plainswalk ability).
  • "Pneumonic" (having to do with inflation or lung disease) for "mnemonic" (having to do with memory) or "pneumatic" (powered by air pressure)
  • 'poleis' is the correct plural form of 'polis'. 'Polis' is the singular form, 'polises' is an error.
  • "populous" (an adjective meaning "having lots of people living there") vs. "populace" (the people doing that living)
  • "pores" (n small holes; v reads something intently) vs. "pours" (empties liquid from a container).
  • "porpoise" (a marine mammal) vs. "purpose" (an aim or a goal). Of course, those who know better will often do this one on porpoise. For the halibut. (See the North American dub of Excel Saga for a particularly convoluted example caused by a combination of Gratuitous English and puckish translators.)
  • "presents" (gifts that are given and received, or the act of presenting something) vs. "presence" (the state of being in attendance)
  • "prolonged" (continues for a long time, such as "a prolonged boring speech about grammar") vs. "prologued" (an awkward verbing analogous to "monologued," probably taken as describing or creating the intro/backstory to a story, at some time in the past).
  • "purposefully" (with purpose, as in "stride purposefully into the room") vs. "purposely" (on purpose, deliberately).
  • "post-humus" (after the fertile earth) for "posthumous" (after death)
    • May be related to "post-hummus", subsequent to the chickpeas.
  • "Pot marked" for "pockmarked". (This brings some really bizarre images to mind...) "Pock" is the singular form of "pox", as in "chickenpox" and "smallpox", and it means a divot or crater in the skin caused by disease or infection.
  • "Potter" (someone who makes pots or kills dark lords) for "putter" (perform a series of small tasks in no particular order or hurry; or a type of golf club)
  • "A power onto herself" when what was meant is "a power unto herself".
  • "pray" (trying to get some deity to pay attention to you) for "prey" (trying to exploit someone's weakness). "It is a social engineering attack, they prayed on the users' ignorance and capitalized on it."
  • "Precluded" (prevented, usurped the place of) for "preceded" (came before)
  • "Predication" (a state of being contingent upon a prior condition, action, or event) for "predilection" (a taste, tendency or preference for a particular item or action)
  • "Prejudice" (a preconceived idea or opinion, usually without reason) for "Prejudiced" (one who has a preconceived idea or opinion).
  • "prestigious" (respected, famous) for "prodigious" (very very large)
  • "preverbal" (before you have the ability to talk) for "proverbial" (invoking or embodying a proverb or stereotype)
  • "preview" (a look at an unfinished or unreleased product) for "purview" (jurisdiction)
  • "privet" (a leafy shrub commonly made into hedges) for "private" (personal, secret). This editor came across a very-poorly-written story which referred to a girl's "privet parts".
  • "prodigy" for "protege" (or, more accurately, "protégé"[4]). A protege is someone a mentor has taken under his wing. A prodigy is a person with an extraordinary talent. Chiyo-chan from Azumanga Daioh is a prodigy, but not a protege.
    • Similarly, "progeny" (offspring) for "prodigy" (precocious genius) -- Calvin and Hobbes deals with this one, when Calvin refers to himself as a "child progeny."
  • "proof" (a line of reasoning deriving a conclusion from a set of premises) for "evidence" (information supporting such reasoning).
  • "prophesy" (verb) vs. "prophecy" (noun). When you prophesy, you produce a prophecy. In Christian churches you will sometimes hear them differentiated by pronouncing the verb as "prof-fess-sigh".
  • "proscribed" (prohibited) for "prescribed" (specified, recommended)
  • "Provence" (an area of southern France) for "province" (a subdivision of a country). The former is an example of the latter.
  • "provincial" (having to do a province; also small-minded or parochial) vs. "provisional" (temporary, evaluative).
  • "pry" (forcibly loosen) for "probably". Often "probably" is shortened as such in speech, but the two words aren't really that close.
  • "puissant" (strong, powerful) for "pissant" (jerk, asshole, with implications of being small or insignificant)
  • "purgative" (a medicine that makes you throw up) vs. "prerogative" (a right or privilege).
  • "queue" (a line of items or people which is dealt with in sequential order) and "cue" (a signal to act, or a stick for pool) -- these are often interchangeably misused for each other.
  • "quite" and "quiet" -- far too common a confusion.
  • "quote" (verb) for "quotation" (noun). This is becoming acceptable in informal situations, but some Grammar Nazis will look down on you if you say "That was a quote from person X."
  • "quote" vs. "quoth" -- "quoth" is the past tense form of an obsolete verb which meant "to say." "Quoth the Raven" means "said the Raven," and has nothing to do etymologically with the word "quote."
  • "rapped" (knocked) for "rapt" (completely engrossed in, involved in or fascinated by) or "raped" (violated, sexually assaulted)
  • On a related note, someone who performs rap music is a "rapper" not a "rapist" (someone who rapes). Although being one does not preclude the other, the two refer to completely different things.
  • "rational" (adj: logical, sane) vs. "rationale" (noun: a reason or justification)
  • "rationale" (as above) vs. "rationality" (sanity, mental stability)
  • "ravish" (traditionally, to rape [5]) vs. "ravage" (to destroy, devastate). As in "Smaug then flew away to ravish a town of men". [6] Thank you, Lin Carter. Even Fritz Leiber got this wrong once, too, stating that the Gray Mouser "began to ravage" a pretty girl. (She'd just made a completely unprovoked murderous attack on him, so the Mouser no doubt felt he had cause, but still...)
    • One (tongue-in-cheek) article in summer 1977 described a rapist as "a man whose taste for ravishing women has unfortunately progressed from an adjective to a verb."
    • Smaug example may be a Double Entendre but it is semantically correct if somewhat obsolete. 'Ravish' means both to 'rape' but also 'to sack, pillage, demolish', not unlike the term 'rape' used as a noun (they both stem from the same source word).
  • "raze" (to demolish) vs. "raise" (to elevate or to construct, among other meanings)
  • "recourse" (an alternative or backup plan) vs. "resource" (a supply or stockpile).
  • "reek" (stink, smell offensive) for "wreak" (inflict, perform)
  • "refuge" (sanctuary) for "refuse" (garbage)
  • "regulated" (controlled, restricted or overseen by law) vs. "relegated" (assigned to an obscure place, position, or condition; a person who has been Kicked Upstairs has been relegated to a new role.)
  • "rein" vs. "reign". One involves controlling a horse, the other being controlled by a king. This mix-up is perhaps inevitable, since both offices have fallen out of daily usage; most people no would have no reason to realize we are talking about "reining X in", as in pulling on the reins of a galloping horse to cause it to slow or stop, and "free rein" (as in holding the reins loosely and allowing a horse to go where it will). "Reign", meaning "to rule" or "the duration of one's rule", is a different word related to "regal".
    • While it is not incorrect to say "free reign", it's at the very least redundant; freedom is implied in the office of a ruling monarch. On the other hand, "the two reins of Voldemort" is flat wrong. (Unless you're reading some sort of BDSM Lemon with a harness involved. If you are, please don't tell me.)
    • Neither should be confused with "rain" (precipitation), though they sometimes deliberately are for the sake of a pun.
  • "relevant" (pertaining to) vs. "revelant", a metathesis. In the noun form, "relevation" vs. "revelation", it's the former that's the metathesis. Metathesis plus spellchecker has led to the misuse of "revenant" (a type of ghost or undead).
    • A revelant can also be a noun, when referring to a person who has revelations, such as John the Divine (who wrote the Book of Revelation - no "s").
  • "relive" (experience again) vs. "relieve" (ease one's conscience). The former was used as a malapropism for the latter on The Simpsons (animation)/WMG.
  • "repel" (to push away) for "rappel" (to slowly descend a vertical surface using a rope, most commonly in rock climbing)
  • "reprisal" (a return strike or act of revenge) for "reprise" (to repeat a passage of music; more broadly, a repeat of any event)
  • "resolution" (degree of detail in an image, or a formal statement of a position or policy) vs. "revolution" (a radical change like an armed insurrection, or one instance of a cycle like an orbit.)
  • "restraunt" for "restaurant".
  • "retarted" (presumably, to have been tarted for a second or subsequent time) for "retarded" (delayed or slowed, developmentally disabled, or an offensive way of saying something or someone is stupid)
  • "retched" (past tense of "to retch", to vomit) for "wretched" (deplorable; of very poor quality or condition)
  • "revile" (to drive away with insulting or hateful words) vs. "revel" (party, enjoy) vs. "reveille" (a bugle call to awaken soldiers)
  • In astronomical terms, something "revolves" around another body, but "rotates" about its own axis. The Earth rotates on its axis, and revolves around the sun.
  • "ridged" (like Ruffles potato chips) for "rigid" (not floppy)
  • No matter how you say it, "ridiculous" is not spelled with an "e."
  • "riggers" (people who set up rigging) for "rigors" (challenges or hardships)
  • "right" vs. "write" vs. "rite"... probably vs. "wright" as well. Doesn't help that there's a supermarket chain called "Shop-Rite", which is actually urging its customers to "shop right". Which is bad grammar anyway, because it's modifying a verb with an adjective.
    • Note that it's "rites of passage" (rituals), not "rights" (permissions or, mind-bogglingly, non-lefts). The Rush song "Distant Early Warning" uses the latter, but it's a pun.
    • It's also Copyright - permission to replicate - not Copywrite (replicating text) or Copyrite (a ritual performed to make a stubborn Xerox device work). A copy writer is someone who writes (advertising) "copy," and has nothing to do with replicating since they're making an original.
  • "roll" (move along a surface by rotation) for "role" (part to play in an organized operation like a military strike or a theatrical production)
  • "roll play" for "role play". Usually found in discussions of RPG's (role playing games). Sometimes "roll play" is used deliberately to refer to RPG's where the players just roll the dice instead of role playing, but disparaging someone else's gaming this way is a good way of triggering an Internet Backdraft and was old when White Wolf did it in the early nineties.
  • "rouge" for "rogue"
  • "Sanction" as a noun is unambiguous. "Sanction" as a verb has taken on two virtually diametrically opposed meanings: to approve and to punish. It's best to avoid "sanction" as a verb.
  • "Santa Claus" does not have an "e" at the end, unless one is talking about the rule of Santa succession in that Tim Allen movies.
  • "scared" (frightened) for "sacred" (holy). An easy typo to make, admittedly, but this one is in the official subtitles of the Loveless DVD.
  • "scarred" for "scared"
  • "scrapping" (brawling, fistfighting, getting rid of) for "scraping" (dragging one object roughly along another)
  • "season" (a time of year lasting about three months, generally distinguished by climate), and "seisin" (ownership of land)
  • "sealing" (that which seals) for "ceiling" (the solid top of a room)
    • "sealing wax" lets you put a seal on an envelope; "ceiling wax" is presumably a cleaning product for the tops of rooms -- or possibly something used to ensure your own baldness
  • "Segue way" when the writer simply means "segue", under the reasonable impression that the final "ue" in "segue" is silent, as in "rogue" or "morgue". However, "segue" is a word directly imported far more recently than these from another language, and still follows its origin language's pronunciation rules.
    • In addition, there's "segue" vs. "Segway", which for good or ill is how you pronounce "segue".
      • What's a Segway? About 80 pounds. (Rimshot)
  • "seize" (grab) for "cease" (stop).
    • And it's "seize", not "sieze".
    • Also, watch out for "seise". A person who is seised of a piece of land owns that land.
  • "sepulchre" (tomb, mausoleum) for "sepulchral" (eerily resonant)
  • "series" and "species" have the plurals "series" and "species". Spelled exactly the same. No apostrophes.
  • "sever" (to slice off) for "severe" (of great magnitude). Having one's arm severed would be a severe wound.
  • "sew" (run thread through cloth with a needle) vs. "sow" (to plant, as in seeds; alternately, a female pig, though this has a different pronunciation)
  • "shear" (to slice or cut) for "sheer" (translucent, almost transparent). "Sheer" is sometimes used in the sense of "pure" or "solid", as in "sheer force of will"; there's also a usage in the sense of a "sheer cliff face". "Shear force of will" is a meaningless phrase (although it might be turned into the name of a ki attack by a sufficiently clever author Airbender).
  • "sheave" (the grooved wheel on which the rope runs in a pulley block) for "sheath" (scabbard for a knife or other small blade)
    • Or probably more commonly for "sheathe", which is the action of putting a knife in its sheath, or a sword in its scabbard.
    • Also "sheaf" (pl. "sheaves"), a bundle in which cereal plants are bound after reaping.
  • "shield", not "sheild". As with "seize/sieze" just a few lines back, "deity/diety" and lots of other "ei/ie" pairs a lot of people seem to have problems getting that right.
  • "shinning" (climbing up something) vs. "shining" (emitting or reflecting light).
  • "shirking violet" (which means a flower that won't do what it's supposed to) for "shrinking violet" (idiom for a shy person)
  • "(be) shod of something" (have that something put on your feet) or "(be) shot of something" (have that something inserted into your body at high velocity) for "(be) shut of something" (escape something or put it behind you).
  • "Shortsided" when the author meant "shortsighted".
  • "shutter" (covering for a window) for "shudder" (a convulsive shiver throughout the body)
  • "sic" (to set someone or something -- like a dog -- upon a target) vs. "sick" (not well). Also, "sic" is Latin for thus and is used to indicate that a wrong spelling in a quotation is being preserved from the original.
  • "sight" (vision sense, thing or place to see) vs. "site" (a location) vs. "cite" (refer to)
  • "skivvies" (an old-fashioned word for underwear) vs. "civvies" (civilian clothing). Your civvies should include skivvies, but not be limited to them.
  • "slavish" (blindly devoted to something or someone) vs. "Slavic" (associated with the cultures or languages of several Central and Eastern European countries).
  • "slight of hand" (possessing small hands) for "sleight of hand" (a trick involving concealing objects in the hands), an eggcorn.
  • "soar" (fly like an eagle) vs. "sore" (when the soaring abruptly ends).
    • also "saw" for "sore".
  • "sooth" (archaic word for "truth", as in "soothsayer") for "soot" (black carbon residue from fire) or "soothe" (v., "give ease")
  • "spackle" (patching material for plaster walls) for "speckle" (tiny mote-like dot)
  • "specter"/"spectre" (a particularly nasty ghost) for "scepter"/"sceptre" (ceremonial mace-like implement that is part of a monarch's or emperor's regalia).
  • "spurn" (dismiss brusquely, shun, ignore) for "spur" (encourage, prompt, force into action)
  • "stanch" (block, plug or stop up, as in a flow of blood) and "staunch" (unwavering, devoted)
  • "stated" (said) for "statted" (to be represented in RPG or wargame statistics).
    • Also, "stated" for "started", probably a typo.
  • "steel" (an alloy of iron) vs. "steal" (to deprive someone of something)
  • "Strait" vs. "straight". "Strait" means narrow; ergo, "strait-laced" refers to a tightly laced corset. Nobody cares if your corset is laced straight or crooked -- it's an undergarment.
    • In general parlance, people making a beeline for something head "straight" for it, not "strait" for it. Of course, if someone is going narrowly across the room, they might well be going strait.
  • "stringed" (fitted with strings, usually a musical instrument) for "strung" (connected)
  • "subbing" for "sobbing"
  • "substain" for "abstain". "To substain from sex" comes closer to "making your living from," implying having a fair amount of, rather than "having none whatsoever".
  • "suit" for "sued". Well, if you get sued you'll have a suit on your hands, but they're not quite the same thing.
  • "summer" vs. "Sumer." The former is a season, the latter is an ancient Mesopotamian region and civilization.
    • The latter is also a really, really old way of saying the former, as in the ballad "Sumer is icumen in." (Use of icumen, a word so bloody old that even Shakespeare never used it, should give an idea of how long we've been using the double "m" in the season -- it dates back to a time when English was more like German than the language we speak today.)
  • "surly" (grouchy, angry) for "surely" ("certainly", "truly")
  • "suspicious" for "suspect". In these dark times, there's a lot of talk about "suspicious" packages, although it's unlikely that any package is capable of harbouring suspicion. If you see a package which you believe might be a bomb, you are suspicious; it is suspect.
  • "synthetic" for "artificial" -- ever hear of photosynthesis? This error is particularly bad when used for things such as the Duophonic process (to turn mono recordings into fake stereo), which necessarily involves taking the original apart in order to place different elements at different points on the sound stage -- that's analysis, not synthesis.
    • This error was present in the stated reason for deleting an item from Non-Indicative Name (since restored); the deleting editor claimed that synthesisers are so called because they create sounds artificially. All musical instruments create sound artificially, but that's not the reason why synthesisers have that name; it's because they create sounds by a process of putting together (synthesis) as opposed to one of taking apart (analysis).
  • "tact" (discretion) for "tack" (heading, of a ship). The idiom is "to change tack", a nautical metaphor. This editor would have learned the difference a lot faster if his teachers hadn't insisted on "correcting" him not from "tact" to "tack", but from either of "tact" or "tack" to "tactic".
  • "tapir" (a largish animal somewhat like a cross between a pig and an anteater) for "taper" (in this case, "candle", although it also means "narrows down to a point"). Lighting a tapir will only annoy it.
  • "taught" (educated, given a lesson) and "taunt" (make fun of) vs. "taut" (flat, smooth, tight, often said of a fit and well-toned body, or a rope stretched tight)
  • "temp" (a short-term employee) for "tamp" (to pack or press a powder into a solid mass, a step in loading black powder weapons like Civil War-era rifles and cannon).
    • "Tamper" means "something which tamps" (see above) or "to interfere with". The tamper of an atomic bomb (as mentioned in Robert Heinlein's novel Starship Troopers, for instance) helps it to explode; it doesn't hinder it.
  • "tenet" (rule or item of belief) vs. "tenant" (someone who rents from you).
  • "test their metal". Appears as an eggcorn of "test their mettle" (i.e., put their abilities to the test).
  • "then" (an adverb designating a time relative to the speaker) vs. "than" (a comparative). "Better dead than Red" is a sentiment from the 1950s and 1960s indicating a political preference; "Better dead then Red" indicates the order in which you'd like to be both. If you pull a twofer and use "then" in conjunction with "different" (see above) then prepare for the special hell.
    • Light the fires. I've had to correct such an error on this very page.
  • "there" (indicating a location or direction) vs. "their" (showing ownership by a group of people) vs. "they're" (contraction of "they are"). Absurdly common, especially among non-native English speakers (who can generally be forgiven).
    • Also, as with the other "ie/ei" pairs elsewhere on the page, it's thEIr, not thIEr. BC made fun of this one thirty-plus years ago. It's time to start getting it right.
  • Nothing drives a high school teacher insane faster than 18-year-olds who cannot distinguish between "two", "to", and "too".
    • "Two" is a number; "I own two computers."
    • "To" is a preposition; "I'm going to the store."
    • "Too" is a comparison; "This page has too many examples."
  • "Toe-headed" (bizarrely mutated) for "tow-headed" (tousled- and/or blonde-haired); this was spotted in Issue 30 of Weird NJ Magazine, so it's not just fan writers who commit eggcornery.
  • "tomb" (a burial site) vs. "tome" (a large book).
  • "tongue and cheek" as an eggcorn for "tongue-in-cheek", regarding a type of humor or humorous delivery.
    • Also: "tongue", not "tounge".
  • "towing the line" vs. "toeing the line" -- the "line" here isn't a rope that can be pulled, it's a mark on the ground that you're stepping as closely to as possible. Think of Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam -- "I dare you to step over this line." Sam refuses to toe the line, and ultimately gets in trouble.
  • "track" (a path or route, or a verb meaning "to follow") vs. "tract" (a region of land, or political literature). You can't have large tracks of land, unless you own a bunch of hiking trails and none of the land between them.
  • "trammel" (an impediment or restriction) vs. "trample" (to stomp on or grind underfoot).
  • "trooper" is a soldier in an army. "Troper" is what we call ourselves on This Wiki. This one is likely the fault of an overzealous spellchecker.
  • an unstable (adj.) instability (n.) destabilizes (v.).
  • "Upmost" (at the tippy-top) for "utmost" (greatest, most extreme).
  • "Vermilion" is an orange-red. "Viridian" is green.
  • "Verses" as opposed to "versus". The first is poetry, the other indicates a state of opposition or contrast. It's "Tyson versus Holyfield", not "Tyson verses Holyfield" -- unless Tyson is writing poetry about his opponent.
  • "viola"/"wa-la" when meaning the French word "voila" (literally, "look there", colloquially "check this out!"), which is pronounced "vwah-lah". "Wa-la" is just an spelling error, while a "viola" is a stringed instrument, the next step up in size from a violin, but not nearly as big as a cello.
    • ahem. It's Voilà, accent grave, merci. [7]
    • And "viola" means "[s/he] raped" in French[8]. If you're looking for the French name of the instrument, it's an "Alto".
  • "Viri" (or, far worse, "virii") for "viruses". In the original Latin "virus" is singular only; as one computer writer has put it, "since the Romans couldn't be bothered to invent an irregular Latin plural for 'virus', why should we do it for them?". As for the other spelling, come on -- the singular isn't "virius", so how can the plural possibly be "virii"?
    • It is even worse because 'viri' is a plural form of 'vir' (man).
  • "Visa vi" when the writer meant "vis-a-vis".
  • "Visa versa" for vice-versa. Surprisingly widespread error. People seem to want to make it rhyme.
  • "viscous" for "vicious" It either flows like molasses, or it's got a bad temper. You decide.
  • "voyeurism" (liking to watch) vs. "exhibitionism" (liking to be watched). This is, like "itch/scratch," one of those strange confusions. The root words ("voy-" = "view", and "exhibit") should make it obvious, but some people still err, like in True Angel chapter 24, where someone walking around nude is said to be enjoying her voyeurism.
    • Similarly, "sadism" (finding sexual pleasure from someone else's pain) vs. "masochism" (finding sexual pleasure from your own pain). You would not believe how many gamers have called the creators of Nintendo Hard Platform Hell games "masochists"...
    • It should be noted though, that sadism and masochism do not always refer to sexual pleasure gained specifically from pain, and may refer to simple gratification or satisfaction.
  • "waffled" (vacillated) for "wafted" (drifted gently through the air)
  • "wailing on someone" (howling shrilly while standing on someone) for "whaling on" (in USA slang, punching someone repeatedly.)
    • "wale" means 'a streak, stripe or ridge produced on the skin by the stroke of a rod or whip'. As a verb, it means 'to mark with wales'.
  • "Waist" (a part of the body) vs. "waste" (garbage, excrement, or something else you want to get rid of). Someone once told me that they read a Buffy fanfic with the sentence "Willow put her arm around Tara's waste."
  • "Wait ago" for "way to go". The most amusing eggcorn I've seen.
  • "Wallah!" (Hindi, someone who is associated with a particular activity, selling or carrying something, or Arabic, "By Allah") for "Voil à!" (French, literally meaning "See there!" -- idiomatically, "And there you have it")
    • "Viola" (a stringed musical instrument) and "wa-la" are equally incorrect.
  • "wander" (walk around without a destination in mind) vs. "wonder" (ruminate)
  • "wane" (a verb meaning "to decrease") for "wan" (an adjective meaning "unhealthily pale")
  • "wave" (friendly gesture with one's hand, or a rhythmic propagation of energy through a medium) vs "waive" (voluntarily relinquish or refrain from enforcing a right or obligation)
  • "weary" (tired, exhausted) for "wary" (cautious, concerned)
  • "weather" (wind, rain, snow and other phenomena) for "whether" (used to delineate two possible choices, one of which might be implied).
    • Don't confuse either of those with "wether", a castrated ram.
  • Now here's one that even some of the best writers have perennially failed to understand. "Whence" means "from which" or "from where". Therefore "from whence" ("from from which; from from where") is completely redundant and in all likelihood ignorant of the full meaning of "whence".
  • "where" (adverb indicating or querying location) vs. "were" (third person plural past tense of "is", also subjunctive mood of the simple past tense) vs. "wear" (what you do with clothing)
    • "Were" is also an archaic word for "man" -- hence a "werewolf", a combination of a man and a wolf.
  • "where with all" for "wherewithal" (the means to do something): eggcorn.
  • "Wherefore" does not refer to location, but is basically an archaic way of saying "Why." "Wherefore art thou Romeo?" (note - no comma between "thou" and Romeo, as there would be if she was asking where he was) is Juliet lamenting that her new lover is a Montague, asking Why he couldn't be someone that her family wasn't sworn to kill on sight.
  • "who" (subjective pronoun) vs. "whom" (objective pronoun); few people know when to use "whom" and thus default to "who" for all cases. A simple way to remember which is appropriate is to substitute the "who" with "he" or "him". If "he" sounds correct, use "who"; if "him" sounds correct, use "whom".
  • It's "wiener" (as it's a Vienna, Wiener, sausage), not "weiner".
  • "wired" (hooked up to a power source, or high on stimulants such as caffeine) for "weird" (strange), likely a result of spellcheckers correcting "wierd". Which is, of course, because '"Weird" is a weird word'--it fails to follow normal ie/ei convention as it neither follows a "c" nor precedes a "gh"
    • Careful with that "normal" convention, too; there are more "ei" cases in English than "ie," it's just that the "ie" cases are in more common usage.
  • "wither" (dry up, shrivel) for "writhe" (move with twists and turns)
    • Also not "whither" (to what place/end), which sees little modern use in itself.
  • "wizened up" (grew dried out and wrinkly) for "wised up" (got a clue)
  • "Women" is a plural; "woman" is the singular. You cannot have "a women."
  • "work" for "walk". It's impossible to imagine someone who is not functionally illiterate confusing these two words, but it's a mistake that can be made by a typo that does not get checked.
  • "worn" (used as clothing, or eroded by use) for "warn" (alert)
  • "wrath" (anger, rage) for "wraith" (ghost, spirit)
    • Though a wraith may be wroth (angry, enraged), or perhaps wear a wreath (circular band of foliage or ornamental work).
  • "wreck" (to destroy or ruin) for "wreak" (to commit) -- "wrecking havoc" means you're just neatening up the place.
    • And if an eggcorn reeks, it simply stinks.
  • "wretch" (a pitiful person) for "retch" (vomit)
  • "Yanno" as a contraction for "you know". There's already an established contraction for "you know" -- it's "y'know". "Yanno" looks, to the literate reader, like some obscure foreign name, probably stressed on the first syllable.
  • "Yea" for "Yeah". Yea is an archaic form of yes, but it is pronounced 'yay' not 'yeah'. The only times 'yea' is used today is in response to a formal vote; to vote yea or nay.
  • "you're" (contraction of "you are") vs. "your" (showing ownership by you). Again, this is an understandable error for non-native English speakers, but native speakers really should have learned this in grade school.
  • And, since it doesn't fit anywhere else on this list, turning a singular noun (usually one ending in "-y") into a plural noun with a simple "-s", as in "storys", instead of the proper replacement of the "-y" with "-ies".
    • With some exceptions, such as given names, and words that have a vowel before the "-y". Therefore, the plural of "story" is "stories," but the plural of the British spelling of the same word, "storey", is "storeys." Ahh, the joys of English!
      • Incorrect (though the distinction in method of pluralisation is correct). Story: a tale. Storey: a floor in a building. "I told stories about a building which had four storeys."
  • Another pluralization issue: No word, other than individual characters and maybe numerals and initialisms -- i.e., no word at all written as a series of letters representing sounds -- is pluralized with an apostrophe. You can have forty cakes, but never forty cake's (unless the forty cakes do own something... icing, perhaps - at which point, though, it would be spelled cakes'). God help you if you combine this with the above and conjure up the abomination "story's" when you mean "stories". The apostrophe-S construction is possessive.
    • Numbers aren't pluralised with an apostrophe -- e.g. it's "the '60s", not "the 60's". The apostrophe in "the '60s" denotes an elision, not a plural.
    • The "s" denoting the third person singular present tense of a verb never has an apostrophe, either.
  • Speaking of apostrophes and possession, the possessive of (for instance) "James" is "James's". Pronounced "James is". The plural is "Jameses", pronounced the same. And if your neighbours are the Jameses, you might go round to the Jameses' for dinner.
    • At least one such error (probably many more) is embedded in the Nero CD Database; one track of the Carousel soundtrack album is wrongly listed as "Stonecutter's Cut It On Stone" instead of the correct "Stonecutters". Unfortunately, the database isn't set up to allow the corrected version of the record to be submitted.
    • Here is how people should deal with it.
    • This treatment of plural possessives is not consistent, varying depending on the grammar and style guide used. Many will have all plural possessives that end in 's' be pluralized by simply adding an apostrophe -- thus, "dogs' toys," "clouds' shapes," or "James' party." Irregular plurals ending in letters other than 's' are made possessive by adding "'s" to the end -- thus, "women's clothing," "people's choice," or "octopi's tentacles." This method seems to be falling out of favor though, replaced by the "always 's" method.
      • It's seemingly inconsistent because the rule isn't about plural vs. singular; it's about words that end in S, X, or Z.
    • An exception to the rule are possessive pronouns -- for example, they are referred to as "its" possessions, not "it's" possessions.
  • Yet another pluralisation problem is the misuse of some plurals as if they were singular -- "bacteria" for "bacterium" and "data" for "datum" have already been mentioned earlier on this page; other common ones include "criteria" for "criterion", "dice" for "die" (some people even use the nonexistent noun "dices" as the "plural" of "dice", though of course it's valid as the third-person singular present conjugation of the verb "to dice"), and "phenomena" for "phenomenon".
  • "Cut the muster" instead of "cut the mustard." Bizarre as the correct phrase sounds, mustard is the right noun. Cutting "muster" (a military assembling of troops) would be negative behavior, which is the opposite of the phrase's meaning, which is to be satisfactory. The phrase's origin is that a sufficiently sharp knife is needed to cut mustard seeds -- a dull knife wouldn't "cut the mustard."
  • One frequent problem is erroneous "corrections" by ignorant editors; there was the electronic-music album whose sleeve-notes mentioned what was obviously (from the context) supposed to be a "sine wave" (as in the trigonometric function) but had been changed to "sign wave"; and the edition of Larry Niven's Ringworld in which some idiotor had changed "holo-projection" to "hollow projection".
  • Another common problem is that people, instead of looking up an unfamiliar word in a dictionary, try to guess the meaning from the context -- and more often than not, guess wrongly. For instance, if someone is "perusing" a book, it doesn't mean that they're skimming lightly through it; it means that they're reading it carefully, paying rapt attention to every word.
  • And if you think that's all, you have another think coming. Meaning you have to think again. And yet almost everyone says "another thing coming", even though they didn't have a thing come to them in the first place.
  • The name of a show is always singular, even if the last part of a title is plural. Therefore, saying "The Fairly Oddparents are getting stale" is incorrect.
    • Unless, of course, the characters are themselves past their best-before date and have lost their freshness.
  • A company name is always singular in American English. In British English, you can use a plural, but this should only apply when you are talking about the components of a collective noun. "BP have a bit of a problem" (meaning the employees of BP have a problem) would be fine; "Disney have bought Marvel" would imply that Disney employees pooled their money and bought Marvel.
  • A painfully common mistake is using "headless" when the person/creature clearly has a head that is detached or detachable.
  • If you use 12-hour notation for time, it's best to avoid "12 am" or "12 pm" as they're ambiguous. Whilst the way digital clocks and watches work has given us "12 am = midnight" and "12 pm = noon", both of these are unofficial (and, strictly speaking, wrong, since 12:00 is the meridian); they also give rise to such things as the shop which once stated its opening times to be "6 am -- 12 pm", leaving people to wonder why it was only open for six hours a day. (It has since corrected the times to "6 am -- midnight".) One should instead say "noon" or "midnight" (or "12 noon" or "12 midnight" if you must); or better still, switch to the 24-hour system, which is unambiguous and which even has notations for midnight at the start of the day and midnight at the end of the day (0:00 and 24:00 respectively).
    • Generally, "12 am" refers to midnight and "12 pm" to noon. To avoid confusion, however, legal contracts use "12:01 am", "noon", or "11:59 pm" to refer to 0:00, 12:00, and 24:00 respectively.
  • Fewer (smaller in number) and Less[er] (smaller in mass or substance) are often confused. To remove two of twelve cake slices is to leave the cake with fewer slices. To make the entire cake (and its slices) smaller is to leave it with less slices (or, technically, lesser slices).
  • "Of" is often used in place of "have", in situations like "I should of done that" or "He could of said something". This is because people use the contractions "should've" and "could've", and don't realize that the second syllable is short for "have".
  • When discussing the limits of a given range, the distressingly often-seen "between X to Y" is not correct. You can use "between X and Y" or "from X to Y", but don't switch in the middle.
    • On a similar note, "both" doesn't match up with "but also". Choose between "both X and Y" and "not only X, but also Y".

Notes

  1. Strictly speaking, is a homogeneous mixture or metallic solid solution composed of two or more elements.
  2. Laughter can follow, for instance when an insane diplomatic message causes bemusement, then derisive amusement. Idi Amin's "diplomacy" was famous for this.
  3. If you must know, the '-i' pluralization only works for words that end in '-us' (thus '-ii' is only the correct plural ending if the singular ends in '-ius'). You can have a single Toyota Prius or multiple Toyota Prii, but if you have penii or a penus you should really consult your doctor.
  4. the up-accented E (acute) can be easily accessed from your keyboard by holding down ALT and then hitting 0-2-3-3 on your numpad -- or by holding down AltGr (or both Alt and Ctrl simultaneously if your keyboard doesn't have AltGr) and typing E
  5. contemporary romantic novels and art reviews use it to mean something more like "insistently thrill"
  6. which is a positively odd image if you read too many romantic novels
  7. The grave-accent "a" is done either with a multilingual keyboard, or by holding ALT and pressing 0224
  8. it's the historical past tense form of the verb "violer", which means "to violate, to rape". The form "violé" is the past participle of the verb, also usable as an adjectival form
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