So here it is: the last day of February. How did this come on so quickly?
It’s also a Tuesday, which means I have another chance to remind writers about an important fact: Spellcheck, for all its wonderfulness, does only one thing — it checks spelling. It does not and cannot check usage.
Below are five pairs of words that spellcheck will accept, but they don’t mean the same things!
Writers — be careful with your words!
Medal (n.): a flat piece of metal stamped with a design or an inscription commemorating an event or a person, often given as an award; (v.): to win a contest
Meddle (v.): To interfere in someone else’s business
Meddler (n.): one who interferes in someone else’s business
Medlar (n.): a fruit tree with small fruits that look like rosehips
Meeting (n.): a gathering; an assembly (v.): to come together; to meet
Meting (v.): distributing or giving out
Metal (n.): any of a category of electropositive elements that usually have a shiny surface, are generally good conductors of heat and electricity, and can be melted or fused, hammered into thin sheets, or drawn into wires
Mettle (n.): high quality of character or temperament; spirit; courage; ardor
Mewl (v.): to cry weakly with a soft, high-pitched sound; to whimper; to whine; (n.): a soft cry or whimper; an act of mewling
Mule (n.): the sterile hybrid offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, characterized by long ears and a short mane; a stubborn person; a person who has been hired to move illegal drugs from place to place; a backless slipper or shoe, often with a closed toe
For more on these or any English word, go to www.YourDictionary.com, a terrific resource that shows words and their definitions in several dictionaries.