Clavier vs cavalier

  • Clavier and cavalier are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation and may be considered confusables. Confusables is a catch-all term for words that are often confused in usage. Two words or more than two words may be confused because they are similar in spelling, similar in pronunciation, or similar in meaning. These commonly confused words may be pronounced the same way or pronounced differently or may be spelled the same way or spelled differently, or may have different meanings or have almost different meanings; they may be homophones, homonyms, heteronyms, words that have a similar spelling, or words that have a similar meaning. Confusables often confound native speakers of English, and they may be difficult for ESL students and those learning English to understand. Confusables are misspelled, misused words and may be nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, or any other part of speech. Spelling rules in English are not dependable; there are many exceptions. Often, the best procedure for learning commonly misused words and commonly confused words in English is to make word lists of English words for the learner to study. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake in English vocabulary, so do not rely on spell check but instead, learn to spell and learn the definitions of words. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a confusable in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. Confusables are often used in wordplay like puns. We will examine the different meanings of the confusables clavier and cavalier, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.


    A clavier may refer to a stringed instrument that has a keyboard or the keyboard of a stringed instrument. Examples are the piano, the harpsichord, and the clavichord. The word clavier is derived from the Latin word, claviarius, which means key-bearer.


    Cavalier is currently most often used as an adjective to mean without proper care or concern, in a disdainful or dismissive manner. The word cavalier originally meant a horseman, and particularly a loyal follower of the British King Charles I. The term cavalier was used as a kind of insult, insinuating that the Cavaliers were men who were pompous and overbearing. The Cavaliers took back the term as a title of honor and loyalty, the same way that the LGBT community has worked to change the word queer from a slur to a proud appellation. The word cavalier is derived from the Latin word caballarius, meaning horseman. When used to mean the historical followers of Charles I, the term is capitalized as in Cavalier.


    The second part of the series takes place Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. Pianist Neely Bruce will perform the Aria, with variations in the Italian manner, by Bach; four friendly Fugues by Bruce, and four preludes and fugues from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book One, by Bach. (Bristol Press)

    Even now, I can remember the uneven stitching of my blue petticoat, my white hands against black clavier keys, the skeleton leaves clinging to Herr Schachtner’s shoulders. (Entertainment Weekly)

    “Yet again, Fife taxpayers are being short-changed by Fife Council who simply have a cavalier attitude to those who simply ask questions which require accurate responses.” (Dunfermline Press)

    Crew members who worked on the set of Alec Baldwin‘s Western film Rust have claimed they expressed concern about the assistant director’s cavalier attitude towards safety when he worked on a previous film. (Daily Mail)

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