October 23, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Friday Fun

Friday Fun

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!

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for just over 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR work, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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3 Comments

  1. localmedia@yahoo.ca'
    Localmedia

    A chicken “coop” is not pronounced “coo”.
    Nor is “coupe”.
    Maybe you didn’t mean that.

    “Led” and “lead” are too often confused.

    Then there’s “pled” and “plead”.

    And “cache” and “cachet”…

    1. jzingsheim@customscoop.com'
      Jen Zingsheim

      Thanks for dropping by! All of the examples I use are from things I’ve seen written online–so yes, I’ve seen people refer to a “coop” in another country when they mean “coup.” Sometimes I think they are fuzzy on the spelling–they know there’s a silent ‘p’ at the end, for example–and just are in too much of a hurry to digest that they’re referring to a chicken coop, not a coup d’etat.

      And yes, I’ve seen references to a chicken coupe too. I get the mental image of Gonzo from the Muppet show in my head then… 🙂

  2. Pingback: Weekly Roundup: Begin Anywhere | Waxing UnLyrical

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