“It’s the Peanuts, They’re Complimentary!” And Other Commonly Confused Words

Everyone makes typos, but some are worse than others. Nothing can replace proof reading (over and over again)- no, not even spell check. Here are some of the worst culprits in the typo universe. These words are so commonly mixed up that examples can be found in prominent national newspapers, published books, and even printed on billboards.

Culprit #1: Loose/Lose

Just because it is a commonly used word does not mean that it doesn’t deserve any consideration or editing. To lose something is to misplace something, whereas loose describes a state of tightness (rather, a lack thereof) or means to set something free.

Example: Mrs. Jones will lose her mind if she hears that there is a wolf on the loose!

Culprit #2: Principal/Principle

Don’t you dare send someone to the principle’s office! In a school setting, this is particularly egregious (particularly bad). The principal is the most important person, usually the head of a school, but principles are beliefs or rules.

Example: The principal’s favorite principle is to treat others the way you wish to be treated.

Culprit #3: Complement/Compliment

I’m sure everyone has heard the joke: A man walks into a bar, orders a drink, and he hears someone whispering to him, “nice tie!!” Looking around he sees no one but the bartender who is busy with another customer. Then he hears it again “Man, I really like your shoes!” and then “beautiful shirt.” The man asks the bartender what is going on, and he says, “it’s the peanuts… they’re complimentary!”

Compliments are praises or approval, an admiring remark. To say that something is complimentary can also mean that it is free, or comes in addition to something you already have (like complimentary peanuts on a flight). A complement is something that is added to something else to improve the qualities of each.

Example: The man at the door complimented my blue dress that complements my blue eyes.

Culprit #4: Desert/Dessert

Unfortunately for victims of this typo, abandoned places and sweet treats are far from being similar. A desert is a dry, desolate place (and to say a place is deserted means that it is abandoned) whereas dessert is a course that comes at the end of a meal, usually consisting of sweet food.

Example: Victor brought dessert to the picnic, but it was deserted by the time he got there; everyone had already left for the parade!

These are just a few examples of commonly confused words, but there are many, many more. Be sure to double check your work, even the common words that you use every day!

Do you find yourself mixing up certain words often? Share with us and we’ll write a post to help you clarify!

Jessica Weeg
Jess is a Public Relations Associate at Voxy, and recently graduated from Indiana University (Go Hoosiers!). She enjoys travelling, cooking, and playing volleyball. “The culture of this company is unbelievable. Everyone is having a lot of fun and working very hard- we’re going to accomplish some great things this summer!”

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2 Comments on "“It’s the Peanuts, They’re Complimentary!” And Other Commonly Confused Words"

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Wow! This can be one particular of the most beneficial blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Actually Excellent. I’m also a specialist in this topic therefore I can understand your effort.

Useful information but surely the peanuts are complementary (as spelled in the joke), they come with, accompany and complement the drink. The reference to complimentary as free is, I think an error, unless it implies thanks for some service, such as flowers or a small gift after a lecture or performance.