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Two effect they're effluent capitol.
August 11, 2008 2:29 PM   Subscribe

Confusing Words is a collection of 3210 words that are troublesome to readers and writers. Words are grouped according to the way they are most often confused or misused.
posted by blue_beetle (76 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
tc;du.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:39 PM on August 11, 2008


Who is buying AdWords placement for "strange words"? It's like there's some Rule 34 of AdWords where no phrase is too strange to have someone pay for it on Google.
posted by GuyZero at 2:41 PM on August 11, 2008


a cromulently squamous list.
posted by boo_radley at 2:42 PM on August 11, 2008


There hopping it's affect is too alleviate bad communication.

I feel so dirty.
posted by Pronoiac at 2:43 PM on August 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


Inconceivable!
posted by darkstar at 2:45 PM on August 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


They don't even list the one I hate most, using "breath" for "breathe".
posted by Riverine at 2:49 PM on August 11, 2008


They don't seem to be up on their standard prescriptivist talking points: they have less vs. fewer, and they have unique being unmodifiable, but their entry for decimate doesn't argue that it should only refer to a reduction of exactly 10%.
posted by Pyry at 2:55 PM on August 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


For all intensive purposes, I think the list could have been more excepting.
posted by billysumday at 2:57 PM on August 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


Read the "About" page. The thing began life as HyperCard stack and they still offer it for download. Enjoying me some HypeCard goodness right now...
posted by Thorzdad at 2:57 PM on August 11, 2008


They should have 'coruscating' in there. It's the new 'begging the question'.
posted by jack_mo at 2:58 PM on August 11, 2008


Who is buying AdWords placement for "strange words"?

Scrooge McDuck built a financial empire on such AdWords, and now he can swim in a vault of his own effluence.

posted by BrotherCaine at 2:59 PM on August 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


...or rather the capitol that represents his effluence.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:00 PM on August 11, 2008


I wonder how many of these entries in Wikipedia's list of English words with disputed usage appear in the confusing words listing.
posted by Pyry at 3:01 PM on August 11, 2008


Language snark is the best kind of snark.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:01 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Obligatory xkcd link.
posted by Artw at 3:02 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I read the entry on "canyon" and now I'm more confused. I didn't even know I was confused before.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:03 PM on August 11, 2008


Language snark is the best kind of snark.

Literally.

I kid, the misuse of the word "literally" sends me into spasms of gut pain; at such moments I must break things or at least lie down.
posted by everichon at 3:07 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't understand.
posted by not_on_display at 3:08 PM on August 11, 2008


Thorzdad: "Read the "About" page. The thing began life as HyperCard stack and they still offer it for download. Enjoying me some HypeCard goodness right now..."

HyperCard nostalgia aside (which I can't join in with, since the only PPC Mac in the flat died horribly a couple of months back), the history of Confusing Words is sweet.
posted by jack_mo at 3:09 PM on August 11, 2008


If you think this list is complete, you've got another thing coming!
posted by billysumday at 3:12 PM on August 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Interesting. I like how the most popular confusing word is 'lay' and the second most confusing word is also lay. And the 6th most confusing word is canyon?
posted by delmoi at 3:13 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I found another prescriptivist heresy: Confusing Words seems to think that loan can be used as a verb.
posted by Pyry at 3:16 PM on August 11, 2008


everichon, that's exactly how I feel about nauseous vs. nauseated.

I find deep breathing helps.
posted by annaramma at 3:17 PM on August 11, 2008


I only have one canyon my cupboard?
posted by everichon at 3:18 PM on August 11, 2008


Until I was well into grad school, I used to write "in consort with" instead of "in concert with." There, I said it.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 3:20 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you like. But I'm pretty sure a lot of atheists would not accept the second part of this definition:

one who assumes there are no gods or divinities but will accept the possibility should extraordinary evidence occur


Which is evidence that this is a personal set of (attempted) definitions rather than a professional production, which has its good side (can be charming) and bad (can be wrong, even under prescriptivist assumptions).
posted by languagehat at 3:21 PM on August 11, 2008


I don't think these words mean what you think they mean.
posted by Sailormom at 3:21 PM on August 11, 2008


Who would of thought that "of" would be missing?
posted by CaseyB at 3:24 PM on August 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I much prefer this list.
posted by phatkitten at 3:25 PM on August 11, 2008


This kind of thing used to bug me, but my opinion has changed 360 degrees since then.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:29 PM on August 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


The word %1$s is not in Confusing Words or in our spelling database.
posted by three blind mice at 3:31 PM on August 11, 2008


Once a word falls into common "misuse", it's all over but the shouting.

*shouts about 'would of, could of, should of', among many, many others*
posted by tzikeh at 3:37 PM on August 11, 2008


They're website insures that these confusing words wont effect my writing. There providing a service!
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:37 PM on August 11, 2008


Irregardless, even.
posted by Haruspex at 3:41 PM on August 11, 2008


I found another prescriptivist heresy: Confusing Words seems to think that loan can be used as a verb.

Pyry, "the reason for your bias is unknown"

2. some people object to loan as a verb, but it has been around since the time of Henry VIII; the reason for this bias is unknown."
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 3:44 PM on August 11, 2008


Maybe we could dialogue around this, moving forward.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:46 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hmm, 'methodology' is not there?

*joins tzikeh in shouting*
posted by waitangi at 4:02 PM on August 11, 2008


Here's the one I wish I could get everyone to understand: YOUR vs YOU'RE.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:03 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pyry

"but their entry for decimate doesn't argue that it should only refer to a reduction of exactly 10%."


I thought decimate meant to reduce to 10% not by 10%? Or am I missing something?
posted by speug at 4:06 PM on August 11, 2008


I could care less.
posted by binturong at 4:09 PM on August 11, 2008


Whatchoo talkin' bout, Willis?
posted by bwg at 4:11 PM on August 11, 2008


I could care less.

Are you saying you want to have your cake and eat it too?
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:12 PM on August 11, 2008


I thought decimate meant to reduce to 10% not by 10%? Or am I missing something?

That's an example of how it's been misused, although this misuse has become the most common and accepted definition. One of my favourite similar words, 'centesimate' means to select one in a hundred, as in the punishment of a group. It's of similar origin.

I was surprised that 'cull' wasn't on the list. It used to refer to the selection of the best from a group; you would cull your herd or cull flowers by picking the best ("From his herd he culls, for slaughter, from the fairest of his bulls.")

Now, it generally refers to selecting and eliminating the worst from a group.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 4:27 PM on August 11, 2008


Why is canyon so high on the list?
posted by yath at 4:34 PM on August 11, 2008


The list of errors still wins. Can you browse through all 3,200 "confusing words"? I don't think anyone confuses ruble with rubble, do they?
posted by mrgrimm at 4:41 PM on August 11, 2008


I think this tool will be wildly excepted.

Some of their definitions don't really distinguish. For example, they try to distinguish arroyo and gulch as
arroyo: a deep gully cut by an intermittent stream
gulch: a small ravine, usually cut by a torrent
So I'm looking at a gully/ravine and need to decide whether an intermittent stream as opposed to a torrent cut it? Really? I think they don't want to let on that sometimes it's confusing just because it is.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:56 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Misuse of "literally" is a real pet peeve of mine. "I was literally in the middle of nowhere", for example. When I hear this, I bite my tongue to keep from asking what it's like to have escaped spacetime - I try to keep pedantry to a minimum. Others, like "could of" or even "irregardless" don't bother me as much, probably because I assume the person using them is joking.

I really don't get how "there, their and they're" are up near the top. Is the confusion over these three words really that common?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:12 PM on August 11, 2008


The word %1$s is not in Confusing Words or in our spelling database.

If you think you misspelled it, please try again.


Confusing Web Site.
posted by oncogenesis at 5:17 PM on August 11, 2008


I don't think anyone confuses ruble with rubble, do they?

I don't know, but people used to call me "rube", which I thought was shorthand for "oh, you precious thing you". Turns out, no.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:33 PM on August 11, 2008


The insidious thing about web pedantry is how it works its way into your offline consciousness. Now whenever I hear someone say "voila", I wonder if they're one of those daft "walla" people. But then I'm mostly surrounded by francophones, so the chance is probably rather small.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:36 PM on August 11, 2008


Some of their definitions don't really distinguish. For example, they try to distinguish arroyo and gulch as

arroyo: a deep gully cut by an intermittent stream
gulch: a small ravine, usually cut by a torrent


I'm more concerned about why these words #5 & 6 on the list of "most popular confusing words".

Is this site used exclusively by elementary school kids fact checking their summer writing assingment: "What I did on my Summer Vacation: A Visit to Dry Gulch Ole West Pioneer Village Towne"?
posted by sloe at 5:50 PM on August 11, 2008


Someone close to me used to be the editor of a prestigious law school publication. He signed a large group e-mail in that official capacity as "Editor and Chief, So Andso."
posted by Darth Fedor at 6:17 PM on August 11, 2008


I think its tracking popularity by page hits, which probably means it's popular because its been linked in various places (such as this thread).
posted by cj_ at 6:23 PM on August 11, 2008


And moreso, by creating a ranked list on their front page, people will click on those entries, further (but artificially) reinforcing their place on said list...
posted by benzo8 at 7:00 PM on August 11, 2008


Oh I conquer.

word-a-day calendar
posted by nudar at 7:29 PM on August 11, 2008


I'm happy to see that the old chestnut 'practical' vs 'practicable' is in there. They also have a respectable summary of 'I' vs 'me'.

For the love of Sweet Jesus Christ people, "He gave it to John and I" or "Are you coming with John and I" are not right!! You sound like a boor!

I may just get these printed on some cards to hand out to some of my confused peers.
posted by Mephisto at 7:51 PM on August 11, 2008


I may just get these printed on some cards to hand out to some of my confused peers.

That should get you invited to lunch more often.
posted by longsleeves at 8:01 PM on August 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


You sound like a boor!

Yes, I find it booring as well.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:05 PM on August 11, 2008


But does a boor shoot in the woods?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:06 PM on August 11, 2008


But, Lord knows, we all boor a heavy load.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:07 PM on August 11, 2008


I can't boor any more of this.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:08 PM on August 11, 2008


This should put the breaks on the grammar loosers!
posted by Wet Spot at 9:01 PM on August 11, 2008


I have to go to the stationary store.

Though...I guess there's no hurry.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:09 PM on August 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


The site looks pretty useful, but I notice it doesn't address one of the biggest Confusions: the difference between Bill Pullman and Bill Paxton!
posted by Mael Oui at 9:21 PM on August 11, 2008


When you search google for "canyon", at the bottom of the page you see the following:
Searches related to: canyon

grand canyon canyon capital pictures of canyons canyon sports

canyon ski canon bryce canyon grand canyon geology
(bolding mine.) I think this is a much more amusing confusion than "gulch" versus "ravine" versus "canyon".

At any rate, I'm confused by Confusing Words use of the word "popular" in its "Most Popular Confusing Words" list. What does that mean? Popular how? As in most common? Then why didn't they just say "common"? Or as in most liked? If so, most liked by whom?

To further confuse things, "popular" isn't in the Confusing Words database, so I can't find out the answer to this confusing question. It's all so confusing.
posted by taz at 12:37 AM on August 12, 2008


Perhaps I might should have checked out this list before picking a user name...
posted by mightshould at 5:19 AM on August 12, 2008


For reasons beyond conjecture, there is no listing for "diffuse" or "defuse." I have never had problems with these, but I notice it seems about 80% of the time that a writer employs one, it will be the wrong one. Flipping a coin would give better odds.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:51 AM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Loose/lose makes me want to shoot people. Figuratively, of course. If I literally shot someone I would literally be arrested and literally charged with a literal crime.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:17 AM on August 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wait, you WANT to figuratively shoot people? What kinda lame ass want is that?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:24 AM on August 12, 2008


Irregardless of every one's holier then thou's attitudes up thread. The point is MUTE, people! There's no thing you can do! BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!! Grammer is dead! Long life the king!
posted by Debaser626 at 7:00 AM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


My jaw literally dropped to the floor when I read this list.

I lived in California for years before I realized that 'Cyn' on road signs meant 'Canyon'. I thought it was on loan from Welsh.
posted by lukemeister at 7:05 AM on August 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


And I thought 'Xing' was just another way to spell 'zing' and never understood what the joke was.
posted by Catfry at 7:57 AM on August 12, 2008


It omits absorb vs. adsorb.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:50 AM on August 12, 2008


That should get you invited to lunch more often.

It's not lunch I'm worried about. It's my peers, by which I meant to imply professional colleagues. People have pet peeves. Over use, or more specifically misuse, of the word "I' is one of mine.

So bite me. :-)
posted by Mephisto at 9:06 PM on August 12, 2008


Shouldn't that be "So bite I"?


I see that misteak allot.
posted by darkstar at 9:52 AM on August 13, 2008


Adverse vs. averse.
Tack vs. tact.
Anecdote vs. antidote.
Impact vs. affect.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:46 AM on August 13, 2008


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