Today, we’re going to list some words and phrases that are often used when another is meant. These are not words that have come to mean something else, the way “bemused” has morphed from meaning only “puzzled” to also meaning “wryly amused.” Instead, these are words that are mistakenly used for other words that sounds the same—a homophone or homonym, depending. We’ve already discussed a number of those separately, such as “soft-pedal,” “pour and pore,” “reign, rein, and rain,” and “hone in,” among others. These are more recent arrivals, or repeat offenders. Consider this to be the mother load of such words. Which, of course, should be mother lode.
In the spirit of Jonah Lehrer, full disclosure: This list was developed for student journalists and has been modified to fit this space.
Note how many of these explanations involve other words in this list. Sneaky, eh?Merrill Perlman managed copy desks across the newsroom at The New York Times, where she worked for 25 years. Follow her on Twitter at @meperl. Tags: grammar, homonyms, homophones, language, Language Corner, usage