8 Words the Internet Loves to Confuse With Other Words

A short while ago I wrote a column on words we always mix up with other words, where I drew shoddy pictures of things like Superboy being shot out of a Superman-shaped cannon. This completely made sense in the context of the article.

Since everyone knows online humor columns by obscure writers are extremely effective in changing society, I'm sure misuse of those words is no longer a problem. However, there are still a lot of other rogue (not rouge) words out there mixing with their homophonic or lookalike cousins and wreaking (not reeking) havoc on news articles, blogs, and forums everywhere. Words like ...


Members of the 401st Exercise Regiment on duty.

A "regimen" is a routine or course of treatment for improving health, while a "regiment" is a military unit. While regiments do get a lot of exercise, that isn't their sole duty, or at least if it is, I'm going to write a sternly worded letter to my Congressman about where my taxes are going.

The Charlotte Observer

There has been a lot of controversy over how much college football coaches are paid, and I know there are points to be made for both sides, but when you can afford to have an entire military regiment train with you daily, that seems like it might cross a line.

The Lakeland Ledger

This seems like dangerous advice. I have a feeling military types might be kind of prickly about being stalked.


Always be weary of danger. It makes you look cool.

"Wary" means cautious, you know, like the ware in "beware." "Weary," on the other hand, means tired. So this person...

The Social Marketing Project

...was somehow sick of blogging before she even started. But I guess she stopped being tired of it after she started, so perhaps she lives backwards through time like T.H. White's Merlyn.

Meanwhile, these teams are fucking sick of playing each other.

Sky News Australia

And this one actually makes a little bit of sense:

Yahoo Sports

He might very well be weary of the Giants. My fiance (only one "e" for a man apparently) is a Philly fan living in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I've noticed he is almost homicidally tired of hearing about the Giants winning the World Series. Hey, Mike!


Ha ha! All in good fun! Moving on.


Racial epitaphs.

An epithet is a descriptive word or phrase, and is usually used to mean a negative one, like "asshole" or "Raiders fan." News articles have to use the phrase "racial epithet" a lot to describe words they can't print in their family paper and that I can't type in this column.

An epitaph on the other hand, is something written about you when you are dead, most likely on your gravestone. When they get mixed up, racism becomes very morbid.


Pasternak, who is white, won a civil suit alleging racial discrimination. I assume he had been harassed by co-workers shouting: "Stupid polack, taken too soon" and, "Dumbass cracker touched the lives of many."

Helena Independent Record

He just out of nowhere started screaming "Calvin Running Bear Higgins, beloved husband and father!" and "Janice Hungry Wolf, an inspiration to all!" at random people at the party. Kind of creepy.

The Chattanoogan.com

Here is that cinder block:

Per Se/Per Say

"Per se" is a Latin term meaning "in itself" or "by itself." For example: "I'm not calling my neighbor a crazy cat lady because of the high number of cats she owns per se, but because her kitchen is six inches deep in cat poop and she sits on the porch with a rifle taking potshots at animal control whenever they try to visit."

"Also I'm a little worried there might be something sexual going on."

"Per say," while being made of two legitimate English words, is not really a meaningful phrase, but I guess it could mean something that happens upon each "say." As a noun, "say" means an opinion, or an opportunity or turn to speak.

I wouldn't mind politicians being charged "per say."

So these athletes:


are apparently seen by some (but not Butler) as being in a one-on-one verbal battle, where each line counts as one round of the fight. Despite his strong reliance on "yo mama" jokes, Butler feels people are familiar enough with his varied repertoire of one-liners that he won't be typecast in the future as a one-note comic.

Be careful, dude, you don't want to go down this path.

OK, so a simple misspelling is no big deal, but even overlooking the bad spelling, it's clear most people wouldn't even know how to use "per se" if the spellchecker handed it to them corrected. Like many Latin terms, people seem to feel entitled to use it to mean whatever they need a word for, in the same ways the Smurfs use the word "smurf."

Apparently sometimes people think it means "so to speak":


And some people think it means "for example" (probably confusing it with "let's say"):


And some people think it means "exactly" or "actually":

Avast! Forum

So sure, why not. Let's just per se the term per se for whatever per se we per se. That's smurfy.

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Christina H

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