9 Sound-Alike Words You Didn't Know You Were Screwing Up

#4. Conscious / Conscience

The conscience, as you probably know, is a small cartoon cricket that gives you a guilt trip when you are about to do something bad. Meanwhile, "conscious" is a psychology term for the portion of your mind you are aware of and in control of; for example, the part of you that decides who to ask on a date, as opposed to the part of you that accidentally calls the date by your previous boyfriend/girlfriend's name and therefore ends the date.

When you mix them up, you have this glowing description of how Ron Paul refuses to give in to his suppressed desires:


And you also get intriguing pictures like this one:


Clearly a mob of zombies.


An even more apt description of a zombie. And finally, this amazing literary thriller:


I checked to see if he was going for some kind of wordplay here, and if anyone in the book was described as going through events while unaware of their actions or anything like that, but it doesn't seem to be the case. I did find some remarkable writing, however, like this fine sentence:

"It was a dream," she sundered as she spoke, "though at the time, I was confused, and had trouble determining what was real or not."

It took me a while, but I think it's supposed to be "shuddered." As it is, she apparently just broke right in half while talking about her dream. Considering that one of the characters is named "Lenord," and that the address of a real place in the book is "1234 North Park Drive," I give this book five out of five stars and recommend it as a "Must Read."

#3. Ball / Bawl


The word "bawl" only has one meaning (cry/shout), whereas "ball" as a verb has a number of meanings, one of which is very funny if you are immature. If you are not immature, you go away and sip your chardonnay and listen to jazz, because we gonna get ballin' up in here.

So without further ado, here are some of our finest examples. For those that involve underage children, I suggest imagining them playing basketball or making a lot of money.



When it comes to the popular phrase "balling one's eyes out," the meaning of "ball" that makes the most sense there is "scooping out," like a melon baller. If you're squeamish, I suggest imagining people who are playing basketball or having sex so enthusiastically that their eyes pop out (metaphorically).




It's entirely possible that a boring wedding or the music of Enrique Iglesias might cause people to want to gouge their eyes out, even though I guess music is not visual, but which of us can be completely logical in the face of extreme distress? I won't throw the first stone.

#2. Peek / Peak / Pique

In this case, there's actually three commonly used homophones (words that sound alike, not people who are afraid of gays) to confuse people -- "peek" (to glimpse), "peak" (the high point) and "pique" (to annoy or excite).

First of all, I can't discuss this category without giving credit to Stealth Mountain, the Twitter account whose entire self-described goal is:


He sends out an automated (I hope) message saying "I think you mean 'sneak peek'" every time someone tweets "sneak peak." His work goes sorely unappreciated by its recipients.


Obviously the dude has the market cornered on Twitter "sneak peaks," so in my own humble way, all I can offer up is a "sneak peak" from a major newspaper website.


Meanwhile, since there doesn't seem to be a full-time "pique/peak" spotter, I'll try to fill in that niche briefly.


I believe the meaning here is "My curiosity will never attain this high a level again."

#1. Gauntlet / Gamut

First of all, let's clear up the little tussle about gauntlet/gantlet. When people talk about "running the gauntlet," they usually are talking about someone running between two rows of people who are beating them with sticks, or a metaphor drawing on that image. Originally the word was "gantlet," with "gauntlet" meaning "glove," as in the one you throw down to start a fight. Even though most people agree that "gauntlet" is an OK alternate spelling of "gantlet" today, some people still pitch a fit about it, so you make your own decisions.

Anyway, one word that "gauntlet" certainly isn't interchangeable with is "gamut," which means "a range or spectrum," and has the misfortune to also be used in a "runs the ___" phrase. So "running the gamut" means to cover a whole range, whereas "running the gauntlet" means to endure a series of blows, and it's not a good idea to swap back and forth between them, as you can see:


There is a lot of unintentional dissing going on here as this author describes a song mix as suffering through the music of MIA, Ms Dynamite (or Dyanmite), Public Enemy and Todd Terry, which just seems cruel and unnecessary.


Meanwhile, this actress endured line after awful line of terrible writing in all kinds of genres.


And this piece of art apparently was created by rolling it down a conveyor belt while tormentors shot various colors of paintball pellets at it. An image that ridiculous would normally make me laugh, but sadly there is probably an art student, well, multiple art students, doing it right now.

So until next time, kids, type safe and drive wrecklessly.

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Christina H

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