People Get These Words Wrong All the Time

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During the coronavirus shutdown many people stuck at home have taken to reading and studying new subjects to pass the time. This has given them an opportunity to improve their vocabularies and their grammar.

There are lots of words people get wrong. With homophones — words that have the same pronunciation but different meanings – mistakes are only obvious when written down. Some words are very easily confused, such as ascent and assent, or principle and principal. These are 50 commonly misspelled words in English.

To compile a list of words people often use incorrectly, 24/7 Tempo reviewed numerous articles on the subject as well as style guides and dictionaries, such as

Sometimes words are qualified needlessly. People often say “very unique,” but strictly speaking something is either unique, which means one of a kind, or not. There aren’t degrees of uniqueness. People also throw around the word “literally” without too much thought, as in “I literally died of embarrassment.” Literally means actually, but people often use it when they mean figuratively, which is something entirely different.

Incidentally, epidemic and pandemic are often used interchangeably, but have somewhat different meanings. An epidemic is a disease that affects a large number of people within a population or region, while a pandemic is an epidemic that’s become widespread. In other words, an epidemic is a pandemic that travels, which is something few of us can do for now.

We shouldn’t be too judgmental, though. Words evolve and take on new meanings and are used differently in different places. Here are 36 old words we use today but with new meanings.