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Electric vs eclectic

  • Electric and eclectic 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 misused or confused; there are many confusing words in the English language that may be easily confused for each other in spoken English and written English. Two words or more than two words, even if they are common 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, homographs, words that have a similar spelling, or words that have a similar meaning. Sometimes, confusables are word constructions that are not proper English words. 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 that have a different meaning from one another 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 to learn new words and commonly misused words and commonly confused words in English is to make word lists of English words for the learner to study to understand the difference in spelling and meaning. To learn new words in the English language, one must not only study a spelling words list, one must know the meaning of words in one’s vocabulary word list. It is also helpful to memorize how to correctly pronounce words and to know the etymology of new words or where they are derived from. 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 electric and eclectic, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

     

    Electric is an adjective that describes something that is charged with or powered by electricity. Electric may also be used to describe something that is thrilling or something colorful. The word electric was coined in the mid-1600s, long before electricity was understood or harnessed. At that time, the word electric was derived from the Latin word, electrum, which means amber. Amber was known to have attractive properties.

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    Eclectic is an adjective that describes a widely varied array of beliefs, ideas, things, or tastes. The word eclectic is derived from the Greek word, eklektikos, which means to choose or select.

    Examples

    Growth in Germany’s battery sector doubled to 35% last year led by demand for lithium-ion batteries for electric cars, data showed on Wednesday. (Reuters)

    The Grammys 2021 ceremony was blessed with the internet’s boyfriend, Harry Styles, who gave an electric performance of his song “Watermelon Sugar.” (Glamour Magazine)

    They’ve since transformed the debilitated space into an expressive and eclectic home and art studio. (Salisbury Post)

    The store in downtown Ramona offers an eclectic mix of upcycled, farmhouse, western and restored décor. (San Diego Union-Tribune)


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