By now, most regular readers know that I am obsessed with writer confusion over homophones. I keep a running list of ones I see on my desk, and I’ve shifted from being concerned over improper use and am now simply impressed with the wide variety of incorrect word usage.
- Coarse / Course: Coarse – “lacking in fineness” like a coarse material; course – route taken.
- Ad / Add: Ad – short for advertisement; add – increase a number. I think this one is a typo more than a homophone a lot of the time, but am including it because I see it fairly often.
- Coo / coop / coupe / coup — This is another one that can be unintentionally hilarious when mixed up. Coo – murmur sweetly, like at a baby. Coop – where you keep chickens. Coupe — a car, and rather confusingly it can also be used to describe an ice cream dish topped with fruit or whipped cream. Coup — an overturn, like the overturn of a government (coup d’etat).
- Phase / faze — Teens go through a phase, which is a period of time. The warnings their parents give them during their phases are unlikely to faze them.
- Staid / Stayed — Someone who is staid is sedate, unruffled. Stayed is to remain — he stayed in one place for the whole show. (Note: According to the dictionary, “staid” is also an archaic spelling of “stayed.” So if you are writing something in Olde English, go ahead and use “staid” instead.)
- Fowl / Foul — Fowl – bird. Foul – offensive. The foul fowl flew his coop, possibly to lead a coup. Was last seen in a coupe.
And, for those who would like to see how homophones result in cake wrecks, I’d like to point you to this post, on Cake Wrecks.
Have a great weekend folks!