Spelling, Vocabulary, and Confusing Words

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Many words in English sound or look alike, causing confusion and not a few headaches. This section lists some of these words, and other troublemakers.


JELL

See gel, jell.


JIBE, JIVE

The verb jibe means "to fit," "to be in harmony with": His version did not jibe with hers.

Many people say jive when they mean jibe, but jive, noun and verb, is African-American slang that originally referred to up-tempo, jazzy music. Then it became a term for hipster jargon. It has come to mean dishonesty, silliness, or inanity: talking jive is lying or talking nonsense. Stop jiving means "Stop fooling around."


JUST

Be careful where you put it. The meaning of just depends on its placement in a sentence, especially when it is accompanied by not, or by negative verbs such as don't or wouldn't.

Many people say just not when they mean not just, and this could lead to misunderstanding, embarrassment, even hurt feelings.

Not just means "not only," whereas just not means "simply not" or "definitely not."

He's a trusted adviser, not just a friend means "He's more than an adviser; he's a friend, too." But He's a trusted adviser, just not a friend means something quite different: "I trust his advice, but he's no friend of mine."


JUST DESERTS

See desert, dessert.


Misused Words

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