It sounded right! Homonym horrors


I confess this is not the most original of posts, but the topic is one that continues to interest writers who want to improve their craft and avoid embarrassing mistakes - just like me.

We should all be familiar with the most cringeworthy like: they’re and there; to, too and two and then and than. Autocorrect features in word processing programs are no help either and often serve to make matters worse.

But these easily made errors are still common, yet less obvious, and we continue to see them in uncorrected work on blogs or even on work submitted to editors. Are you guilty?

Pore or Pour
[source]
When one studies a document or map, one pores over it.

Be absorbed in reading or studying (something) [Oxford]

One Fell Swoop
[source]
Not a ‘foul swoop’, as is the most common misuse.

As in with one swoop of a weapon like an axe or sword.

Faint-hearted

[source]
To be timid or lacking courage.

Not ‘feint-hearted’, as one editor was quick to remind me.

Sailing unchartered waters


[source]
Er, no. Stuff that is not on a map (or chart) is uncharted. One ‘charters’ a ship or vessel.

Copywrite protection


[source]
Again, nuh. A copywriter writes copy. And this copy may or may not be copyrighted (or subject to intellectual property protection) 

A Stationery target


Unless you are aiming to shoot an envelope, then you mean ‘stationary’ - or standing still.

[source]
An allusive quarry
[source]
Again, an easy one to make. Here we should use ‘elusive’ - to avoid or elude. An allusion is an indirect reference, like a hint.

Australia’s capitol city

[source]
Nope. Canberra is our capital. A capitol is a building full of politicians, or more correctly, legislators.
You want to be a 'pal' with someone who has 'capital'.

How about these examples? Do you know one from the other?
  • Principle or Principal
  • Emigrate or Immigrate
  • Elicit or Illicit
  • Climactic or Climatic



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