Confusing Words

Have you ever been tripped up by confusing words? I have. Here are some common words that stump most people when trying to write them. Without looking up the answers, can you get 100% right? I bet you can’t! 😉 They are that tough.

(Correct answers are at the end.)

My neighbors, the Plinklebottoms, are a nice, but quirky, family.

1. The oldest son Jerrod, who is twenty, is super laidback / laid-back / laid back.

2. Jerrod’s dog is easygoing / easy-going / easy going as well.

3. I’ve been racking / wracking my brain to remember Jerrod’s dog’s name.

4. It’s nerve-racking / nerve-wracking!

5. In contrast, his sister Sienna is constantly knit picking / knit-picking / knitpicking / nit picking / nit-picking / nitpicking.

6. After a while, it really effects / affects me.

7. Sometimes, I can hardly reel / real in my frustration.

8. She always says, “Bare / bear with me. I’m just a perfectionist.”

9. I usually keep her at arms’ / arm’s length.

10. The whole family is unusual, which peaks / peeks / piques my interest.

11. Jerrod and Sienna are blond / blonde, but Trixi and Leonard are red-headed / redheaded.

12. The youngest, Leonard, is the tallest at six-four / six four.

13. He also has buck teeth / buckteeth and a huge birth mark / birthmark on his jaw. Poor guy!

14. Jerrod is my sister’s ex-boyfriend / X-boyfriend / ex boyfriend.

15. They broke up because they could never see eye-to-eye /eye to eye.

16. He’s very good looking / good-looking, but he’s super lazy, for Petes sake/ Petes’ sake / Pete’s sake!

17. She’s goal-oriented / goal oriented, but he sits around all day watching videos and eating jello / jell-o / Jell-O.

18. Do you think I’m over-reacting / overreacting? Their house is totally run down / run-down.

19. But their mom left when they were little, and their step-dad / stepdad is always gone.

20. So I guess when I think about it, it’s not all black and white / black-and-white.


1. laid-back
2. easygoing
3. racking or wracking is acceptable, but racking is preferred
4. both are acceptable, but nerve-racking is preferred
5. nitpick / nitpicking
6. affects
7. reel
8. bear
9. arm’s
10. piques
11. blond / redheaded
12. six four (heights are never hyphenated!)
13. buck teeth / birthmark
14. ex-boyfriend (ex-fiancé, etc.)
15. eye to eye (no hyphens)
16. good looking (it only has a hyphen when used as an adjective) / Pete’s sake
17. goal-oriented / Jell-O
18. overreacting / run-down
19. stepdad (stepfather, stepmom, stepparent)
20. black-and-white

Note: I use the Merriam-Webster dictionary and the Chicago Manual of Style, Sixteenth Edition

Savvy Writer Tip:

There is a plethora of words that can be confusing. When in doubt, look it up! Savvy writers don’t guess, and their professionalism shows in their accurate writing. 🙂


2 thoughts on “Confusing Words”

Comments are closed.