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Saccharin vs. saccharine

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  • Saccharin, with no e, refers to a white crystal powder used as a calorie-free sweetener. It is always a noun. Saccharine, meaning (1) sweet, (2) cloyingly sweet, or (3) excessively sentimental, is always an adjective. The words are pronounced alike, but that e is pivotal in writing.

    Examples

    Saccarin

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    He offered the example of saccharin, a sweetener often used in coffee that until recently also appeared on the federal list of substances regarded as toxic waste. [NY Times]

    EPA removed saccharin from the list recently, a decade after the science supporting the move came together. [Huffington Post]

    Saccarine

    Given as if in an arrangement by Cécile Chaminade, mushy and saccharine-sweet, this accompaniment undermines every stylish moment of the dance. [Financial Times]

    Adults, unless horse-racing fanatics, will find it cliché-ridden and uncomfortably saccharine. [Inside Pulse]

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    Comments

    1. I never realized the difference until I saw a clue about it on Jeopardy this evening (12/11/12). I love to learn something new every day!

    2. Chris Johnston says:

      Is the ‘h’ optional? I notice that it’s absent in the subtitles for your examples.

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