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Everyone spells words wrong or screws up their grammar from time to time, and when you suggest a perfectly reasonable solution like prison, or the electric chair, suddenly you are a "grammar Nazi" who makes a fuss over "technicalities" when everyone knows damn well what they meant to say.

And you know what, if people are going to spell "receive" wrong or complain about "hypocrasy," OK, whatever, it's pretty obvious what they're getting at. But sometimes they're not just spelling a word wrong, but replacing it with an existing word, with its own definition, creating an entirely different sentence with a new meaning. And if the new meaning is funny, it is a travesty, a travesty I say, if nobody is there to appreciate and laugh at it.

Here's some all-too-common mix-ups for you to spot, so you can be sure to be the laugher and not the laughee.

Phase/Faze


This man WAS phased.

So here's the deal: When people are looking for the word "faze," they almost always seem to end up using the word "phase." "Faze" means to disturb or throw for a loop, like, "The fact that his girlfriend turned out to be a man did not faze Brian."

"Phase" is normally used as a noun, like, "Brian's interest in women turned out to just be a passing phase anyway." But it can be used as a verb, meaning to synchronize, or to schedule in phases, like, "Brian phased the delivery of Astroglide to his home so that his supply would peak when his companion moved in."

Even news sites make this mistake pretty often.

Toronto Entertainment News Examiner

In the snippet above, you can see that Katy Perry's outburst didn't schedule a classmate in chunks.

Fox 5 News Vegas

Also, in sci-fi/fantasy settings, it can mean to travel between dimensions or planes or something. I guess the snubs of Republican Kirk Lippold's party leaders failed to reach the energy threshold required to banish him to another dimension.

Chattanooga Times Free Press

Dave Bruzza also failed in his attempts to escape the material plane before the rain started.

Hamptons.com

This person, I think, might have just been typing drunk.

Horde/Hoard


A horde of cash.

"Horde" means a large group of people or animals, like a horde of orcs or Vikings or immigrants. "Hoard" means a stash of treasure, or in verb form, to stash your treasure. A dragon's hoard is something everyone wants to stumble on, while a dragon's horde is something no one wants to encounter.

I think this is one of those where more people might actually get it wrong than get it right. Like the Wall Street Journal here:

The Wall Street Journal

You can't use "horde" as a verb at all so it just doesn't make sense, and that isn't really funny, but I just put this here because nanny nanny boo boo Wall Street Journal. And here we have the aforementioned cash hordes:

The Aspen Times

Money Morning

Which, as you can see in the above cartoon, aren't really threatening so much as kind of cute.

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Reign/Rein

"Reign" is the rulership of a monarch or other leader. "Reins" are the strings you pull to make a horse do things. Most people know the difference until they have to use them in an expression, and then everything goes haywire.

The Scottish Daily Record

The biggest confusion comes with "free rein," which means letting someone do what they want, and comes from an equestrian term where you let go of the "rein" and let the horse do what he wants -- which in my experience, is usually to eat grass or poop. Similarly, when you're getting tired of his shenanigans, you "rein him in."

Getty
You go, "Hey, buddy -- enough with the pooping."

But it seems like everyone in the entire world, for some reason, keeps saying "free reign," which doesn't even make any sense. On the surface it seems to, because you're thinking, a king or queen can do whatever they want. All you need to say is "reign" then. Why add a "free"? Any time people add an adjective to "reign," it refers to the period of time the king or queen rules. A "bloody" reign, a "long" reign, an "uneventful" reign. You might as well talk about giving someone "free era." What does that even mean?

Language nerds are always getting into fights over this, with a lot of people arguing that English is a living language, blah, blah, blah, and if something is used commonly enough then it becomes official. Sure, fine, maybe we'll consider this official someday, but just because it's accepted doesn't mean it's not wrong and stupid.

The San Jose Mercury News

NO THAT IS NOT HOW YOU USE IT.

HOW CAN YOU WRITE FOR A MAJOR PAPER.

The Christian Science Monitor

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRGH

OK, I guess this one pushes some buttons apparently.

Cannon/Canon

Star Wars: The Old Republic Community

Mixing up "cannon" (the weapon) and "canon" (official laws/history/body of work) is usually only done by nerds, because only nerds (and theologians, I guess) get worked up about whether something is "canon." Regardless, when it happens, it is very, very funny.

Facebook Superboy Page

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Arc/Arch


Character arches are among the least stable architectural structures.

An arch is a physical structure in the shape of half of a McDonald's sign. An arc is a path or a curve in the same shape.

If a fictional character follows some kind of, you know, path, throughout the course of a narrative, it would be a "character arc." Now people who keep typing "character arch" might get defensive and claim that "arch" works too because it's the same shape and, um, you know, living language, blah blah. Well, make them pronounce it. I bet you they're going to say "ark" with the hard K sound, which is never how you pronounce "arch" as a separate word, and at that point, you go, "Come on, buddy, we all know you meant 'arc,' and slipped up. Just fess up and laugh it off and we'll have a drink."

My Writing Mentor

The disturbing thing is that most people who are talking about character arches in the first place are people who are, or want to be writers. The quote above is from a writing mentor and the one below is from an aspiring screenwriter. Eeesh. Not a good start, guy.

Done Deal Message Board

Getty
"Come on, honey. I heard all main characters have to go through one of these."

Tenants/Tenets


The tenants of scripture.

Even though pretty much everyone knows the difference between tenants (occupants of someone else's property) and tenets (beliefs), there is always someone out there mixing them up. In fact, while you were reading that sentence, seven people on the Internet typed "tenant" when they meant "tenet." I just made that up. Here, read a quote:

MyFox Memphis

The best part is that people who screw up "tenet/tenant" are likely to make another funny mistake, often in the same sentence.

Rush Limbaugh Forum

You might think he meant "excommunicate" and that hyphen was just for the line break, but no, "EX-COMMUNICATE" is all over that post, mostly in caps. I think it means to communicate with someone in the past.

Lattitudes And Attitudes Seafaring Forum

And here we have a double jackpot. Tenant and cannon paired together in a lovely duet. "MMGW" is Man Made Global Warming, so yeah, this is one of those people. And finally, you can get some interesting mental images, like here:

Waukesha County Technical College


Philosophical tenant.

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Discrete/Discreet

The Kansas City Star

The idea of an "indiscrete" dad is scary. "Discrete" means separate, either separate from other external items, or divided into separate, distinct parts. This dad is either an amorphous blob, with the normally separate limbs, head and organs melded into an undifferentiated mass, or he is not entirely separate from the environment, melding with the walls or the ground he walks on.

In other words, this dad is the Sandman from Spider-Man.


He was a dad, too. All the pieces fit.

I'm pretty sure they were looking for "discreet," meaning hush-hush. This gossip writer had the same problem:

Hollywood Life

Although it's true, they probably did have a separate ceremony and didn't participate in a mass wedding Unification Church style. On the other hand, this guy wants each of the city's homeless fed in individual soup kitchens:

London Free Press

Which is really impractical. This is one of those word mix-ups that actually happens the other way pretty often too, and usually to funnier effect.

Totaljobs.com

This is a job posting for an engineer that can work with components who don't give up their secrets easily.

APC

And Lenovo has got a point here. If all notebooks had discreet graphics, this is what watching porn on them would be like:

Bona Fide/Bonified

As you probably know, "bona fide" means genuine, whereas bonified isn't really a word. Now if you look it up, you'll find that bonify technically exists as an archaic word meaning "to make something good." Like Darth Vader was bonified at the end of Return of the Jedi. OOPS, SPOILERS!

But that word is pronounced with a short o, like "bawn-i-fied," whereas these people will always pronounce their new creation "bone-i-fied." So instead of subbing an existing, archaic word in for the word they meant, I maintain they're actually creating a new word. And it clearly means to turn something into bone.

Glassdoor.com

Getty
Folks coming into work at that staffing agency.

This guy has probably achieved a horror geek's fantasy:

Fangoria

And this person ...

Times Square Chronicles

Honestly I think they're trying to say they got an erection.

Allow Christina to entertain you with more of the Internet in 8 Stupid Amazon Products With Impressively Sarcastic Reviews, or make your vocabulary even less stupid with 9 Words That Don't Mean What You Think.

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