Commonly confused sound-alike words: Vol. T

Do you know the difference between ‘tortuous’ and ‘torturous’? Have you ever mistaken ‘tenet’ for ‘tenant’? It’s time to get these and other homonyms straight.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

My cumulative list of commonly confused words continues with 10 that begin with the letter T. The confusion relates to spelling or meaning.

1. taught/taut

Taught is the past tense of teach. It is also used as an adjective to mean instructed.

Example: “Howard Phillips Lovecraft, weird fiction writer and primogenitor of modern horror fiction, was a self-taught writer.”

Taut means “pulled tight.”

A common error is to spell taut as taught, as in this fishing advice in Backpacker magazine:

Incorrect: Use more weight to keep the line taught.

Correct: Use more weight to keep the line taut.

2. titivate/titillate

Titivate means “to spruce up, to make more attractive.”

Example: We decided to titivate the kitchen with new cabinets and countertops.

Titillate means “to excite the senses or imagination in an agreeable way.”

Example: Camilla Ochlan has crafted a supernatural mystery-thriller that will titillate the palate of even the most discriminating sci-fi reader.

The error is to mix them up, as in this example from a restaurant site:

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.