Proofreading Tips - False Friends

False Friends 3

Here’s another batch of homophones, heterographs and easy-to-mix-up-pairs-of-words. 

Having used up all the obvious words that get mixed up in False Friends 1 & False Friends 2, I wonder anyone writing for children is using False Friends 3?

See False Friends One here  and False Friends Two here 

auger /augur 
tool for making holes / a prediction or omen (noun), to predict or foretell (verb) 

bated / baited 
in anxious suspense, as in ‘bated breath’ / deliberately taunted, or having bait on a hook

eclipse / ellipse 
temporary shading of the sun by the moon or the moon by the earth etc / elongated circle shape, typically the shape of the path of a planet round the sun 

censor / censure 
to suppress ‘unacceptable’ aspects of writing, film, etc (verb), the official with that role (noun) / to denouce or criticise (verb), severe disapproval or harsh criticism (noun) 

continually / continuously 
repeatedly / all the time without a break 

Crochet or Crotchet?

crochet / crotchet 
creative yarn hooking / musical note, quarter of a semibreve, half a minim. Crotchet also has an old meaning as an eccentric opinion, which continues as the adjective ‘crotchety’. 

cue / queue 
billiards/snooker/pool implement (noun) or to give someone the nod to begin (verb), or that nod (noun) / to form a line in anticipation (verb) or that line (noun) or a long hair braid (noun)

curb / kerb
to restrain (US and UK verb), edge of a sidewalk (US noun) / edge of a pavement (UK noun)

desert / dessert 
arid land (noun) or to abandon (verb) / pudding (remember something sweet) 

Lost in the dessert?

disinterested / uninterested 
impartial, unbiased / not interested, indifferent (but disinterested is increasingly used to mean uninterested) 

empathy / sympathy 
to acknowledge another’s dilemma and be able to offer comfort and understanding because of personal experience / to acknowledge another’s dilemma and be able to offer comfort and understanding enervate / invigorate

enervate / invigorate 

to weaken (or a medical term for removing a nerve) / to strengthen or energise (enervate can be mistaken for invigorate because it sounds vaguely likely energise, though it means the opposite) 

foment / ferment 
to incite or encourage trouble (or to apply heat) / to cause a chemical change (often resulting in alcohol). Ferment is increasingly used with the foment meaning (kicking off politically) which to some extent it has always had. However using ferment to describe instigating revolution can look like you’ve accidentally failed to use the more precise word. 

flair / flare 
an aptitude or talent / a sudden burst or increase (and the associated verb), also an item designed to issue a burst of light. Additionally describes trouser fashion 

imply / infer 
to seek to convey a meaning, which the receiver must interpret / to receive information and form a conclusion. Infer is used for imply so often it may eventually be acceptable (but not yet).

libel / slander 
written defamation / spoken defamation 

perquisite / prerequisite 
an extra benefit or payment (shortens to ‘perk’) / something to be achieved before something else 

prevaricate / procastinate
to speak or act in an evasive way / to put off doing something that needs to be done 

principal /principle
main or chief (adjective), head or chief or main performer (noun) / a belief or a rule 

redolent / resonant 
reminiscent and suggestive, or having an aromatic, fragrant smell / reminiscent and evocative, or having a strong, deep sound

SCBWI British Isles Winchester Conference.

Excitement is bubbling as the conference gets nearer. We're so thrilled that our very own, and rather wonderful, Catriona will be sharing her knowledge and expertise at this year's conference. Click here for more details. 

Catriona Tippin has been a member of SCBWI since 2006 and helps organise venues for SCBWI North East. Details of her writing and illustrating here. She proofreads study guides, house magazines and publicity material for national educational organisations, in addition to working on a variety of proofreads and copyedits for the growing self-published world. Her monthly column is intended to give you food for thought, remembering “Any correction of the speech or writing of others will contain at least one grammatical, spelling or typographical error” (McKean’s Law, named after its inventor Erin McKean, editor of the Oxford American Dictionary).


  1. Grate stuff there are a few I hadn't fought of for a while! Thanks Catriona ;-)

  2. A business proposal letter refers to a cover letter to an offer letter. It acts as a professional link or connection in between a prospective client and merchant. You can summarize or furnish details briefly about Unique Selling Proposition about your offer. See more service proposal letter


We love comments and really appreciate the time it takes to leave one.
Interesting and pithy reactions to a post are brilliant but we also LOVE it when people just say they've read and enjoyed.
We've made it easy to comment by losing the 'are you human?' test, which means we get a lot of spam. Fortunately, Blogger recognises these, so most, if not all, anonymous comments are deleted without reading.

Words & Pictures is the Online Magazine of SCBWI British Isles. Powered by Blogger.