Could We Please Get These Words Right?

I’ve never had much trouble with those ‘commonly misused words’ lists, and I don’t even see those words misused in my reading escapades. But there are plenty of others I do see that aren’t talked about. So this is a list of some of them. Mostly those I find particularly amusing in-text. Though “a while” and “all right” are one’s I don’t trust myself with. Now, away we go!

Rouge: red, cosmetics

Rogue: a swashbuckling thief-type, much less exiting when it’s just a painted guy.

Breathe: the verb

Breath: the noun (If you’re trying for an angsty, moving scene where a character cries out to the unconscious friend, “Breath! Breath!” I’m just going to laugh very hard).

Quite/Quiet: Hopefully this is mostly a typo issue, one I’ve often had myself. Nevertheless, it’s quite a difference.

literary/literally: Actually, I’ve only seen this one place, but it’s still a funny one: “He’s literary a rouge.”

Chagrin: a word that’s impossible to take seriously anymore, and you can probably safely, if somewhat unfairly, blame Stephenie Meyer. It’s a verb, and the past tense is not spelled ‘chagrinned’.

Okay/OK:  best advice is to avoid entirely, or find a style manual wherever you might be publishing. Both seem acceptable, but since there’s no clear written provenance for the word, someone is always going to complain. A few theories are ‘okeh’ from an Amerindian word, IIRC, or Oll Korrect. Mostly because it’s primarily a spoken work (as most neologisms tend to be*) and few people go around clarifying the spelling of the words they say. For one thing, that’d take a long time. But I like “okay”, if only because it draws less attention to itself on the page.

A lot: not alot. which is something completely different, all right? Alot is a part of something, where a lot is a great deal of that something.

Speaking of: Alright & All right. Technically “all right” is always going to be acceptable, but alright is gaining traction, especially in casual usage. Similarly “a while” and “awhile”.  “A while” is going to be correct, and if you can’t use that, “awhile” won’t be correct either.




*insert sarcasm emoticon


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