Quiz: commonly misused or misspelled words

I’ve written more posts than I can count about confusing word pairswords that are hard to spell and words that aren’t really words.

Instead of another article about usage, let’s see how you fare with a quiz.

Read the list below and make note of which words or phrases are incorrect—either from misspelling or from misstatement. Check your answers at the end.

Definitions and usage guidance came from Oxford Dictionaries, Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster.

  1. Alterior motive
  2. Augurs well for the project
  3. Brussel sprout
  4. Caddy-corner
  5. Center around
  6. Conversate
  7. Coursing through my veins
  8. Cut and dry
  9. Derring-do
  10. Digestive track
  11. Dire straits
  12. Door jamb
  13. Doughnut
  14. Duct tape
  15. Easedrop
  16. Fine-tooth comb
  17. Harebrained
  18. Home in
  19. Mute point
  20. Old wise tale
  21. Per say
  22. Sleight of hand
  23. Thunder and lightening
  24. Wet your appetite


  1. Incorrect. “Alterior” should read “ulterior.”
  2. Correct.
  3. Incorrect. “Brussel sprouts” should be “Brussels sprouts.”
  4. Incorrect. “Caddy” is not correct; instead, use “catty” or “kitty.”
  5. Incorrect. Things don’t “center around,” but rather “center on” or “revolve around.”
  6. Incorrect. It should be “converse.”
  7. Correct.
  8. Incorrect. It should be “cut and dried.”
  9. Correct.
  10. Incorrect. It should be “digestive tract.”
  11. Correct.
  12. Correct.
  13. Correct.
  14. Correct.
  15. Incorrect. “Easedrop” should be “eavesdrop.”
  16. Correct.
  17. Correct.
  18. Correct. “Home” is to “focus in on a target”; “hone” means “to sharpen.”
  19. Incorrect. “Mute” should read “moot.”
  20. Incorrect. Instead of “wise,” it’s an “old wives’ tale.”
  21. Incorrect. “Per say” should read “per se,” meaning “by or in itself.”
  22. Correct.
  23. Incorrect. “Lightening” is incorrect; “lightning” is correct.
  24. Incorrect. “Wet” should be “whet,” which means to “stimulate an appetite or desire.”

How did you do, PR Daily readers? What words or phrases cause you trouble?

This post was first published on Ragan Communication’s PR Daily.

Comments are closed.