Name That Word—No, Not That One…

Have you ever used a word, and found out, to your horror, it doesn’t remotely mean what you intended? Here are a few words that just might fit in that list.

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What you think: They mean the same thing.

What they actually mean: To infer is to form an opinion based on evidence and reasoning. The listener infers. To imply is to express something in an indirect way without saying it plainly. The speaker implies.


What you think it means: A fun fact of little consequence.

What it actually means: A fun fact that is not true.


What you think it means: When something doesn’t happen very often.

What it actually means: Something that’s unchanging and constant, e.g., “The football season invariably starts in August.”


What you think they mean: The same thing.

What they actually mean: The palate is the roof of the mouth and also a person’s ability to discern different flavours, while a palette is what an artist uses to mix paints.

Neither are to be confused with pallet, which is a wooden platform used to stack things.”

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Enquire or not to Inquire

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“These are two spellings of the same word, which means to seek information about something or to conduct a formal investigation (usually when followed by “into”). The corresponding noun is enquiry or inquiry.

Either spelling can be used, but many people prefer enquire and enquiry for the general sense of “ask”, and inquire and inquiry for a formal investigation:

  • I enquired his name
  • The first enquiry in my inbox today was about lost property.
  • We are going to inquire into the incident.
  • The lawyers asked when the inquiry will be completed.”
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