Is that the word you meant?

At the time of writing this blog, there’s only one thing on my mind:

Over the years, this GIF has ushered in the month better than any holiday (sorry, Cinco de Mayo). And while I grew up putting NSYNC third in line – BSB 4eva; come at me – I cannot deny their usefulness for segueing into this month’s blog.

That’s right. Even though May/Me didn’t make the cut, it’s time for yet another Top 10 list of misused words the CCS Writing team comes across in our proofing.

If you missed our lists from the past, find them here and here. There’s also this one, which touches on a few others we had to get off our chest before we started officially making lists.

Latest top 10 wording errors

1. Moral/Morale

Moral (noun) means a lesson. The moral of the story is to think before you talk.

Morale (noun) means the confidence/discipline of a person/group. Team morale is high.

2. Fair/Fare

Fair (adjective), as we often mean it, means legitimate/just. The results were fair.

Fare (noun), as we see it, is a range of a particular food. I love Mexican fare.

3. Flare/Flair

Flare (noun) means a sudden burst of light/fire. Flares from the grill rose. Tempers flared.

Flair (noun) means special ability to do something well. She’s got a flair for language.

4. Tenet/Tenant

Tenet (noun) means a principle/belief. These are the tenets of our culinary philosophy.

Tenant (noun) is a property owner. The tenants meet on Mondays in the lobby.

5. Formerly/Formally

Formerly (adverb) means in the past. The Cleveland Guardians, formerly Indians, won the game.

Formally (adverb) means officially or in accordance with etiquette. The cafe is formally open.

6. Past/Passed

Past (adjective) means no longer existing or belonging to a former time. Past attempts were futile.

Passed (verb) refers to movement (motion/time). He passed through town. The item is passed its sell-by date. Time passed slowly.

7. Premier/Premiere

Premier (adjective) means first in importance; leading; top. We serve premier clients.

Premiere (noun/verb) means the first event or to give first. It was the world premiere.

8. Precede/Proceed

Precede (verb) means to come before something. Read the note that precedes the document.

Proceed (verb) means to begin/continue. Proceed with your questions.

9. Undo/Undue

Undo (verb) means to cancel or unfasten/untie. She couldn’t undo the damage she caused.

Undue (adjective) mean unwarranted. This shouldn’t cause you any undue harm.

10. Wave/Waive

Wave (verb) means to move one’s hand. She saw her friend across the street and waved.

Waive (verb) means to refrain from using/enforcing. She (mistakenly) waived proofing.

Until next time …


Don’t be sad. We’ll be back on the first Monday next month with a new blog post. If you can’t wait that long – whether because you have a topic you’d love us to cover, a question or you simply want to throw your two cents into the pot – we love talkin’ shop, so drop us a line.

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