Florid vs floral

  • Florid and floral 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 florid and floral, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.


    Most often, florid is used as an adjective to mean a ruddy or flushed complexion. People who are angry or inebriated are often described as having a florid complexion. Florid may also mean overly ornate or complicated; for instance someone who uses 20 words when 5 will do may be described as using florid language. Medically, the word florid describes a full-blown disease. The word florid is derived from the French word, floride, which means flourishing, and came into use in the mid-1600s.


    Floral is an adjective that describes something related to flowers. For instance, a floral arrangement may be a vase with flowers in it; a floral wallpaper may be one that depicts roses. The adjective floral came into use in the mid-1600s from the French word, floral, which means pertaining to flowers.


    “Personally, he was a handsome man, with light hair and a florid complexion — genial on the street, but terrible in the classroom,” she wrote. (The Sentinel)

    De la Hunty followed with Legrenzi’s Vibri pur di strali armato, from Eteocle e Polinice — like most Baroque opera, a tale of lust and death from classical antiquity — in a florid proclamation of love worthy of a warrior princess, towering in voice and stature. (West Australian)

    Floral design can be as imaginative as gardening and landscape design. (Santa Ynez Valley News)

    Japanese floral artist, botanical sculptor and co-founder of Jardins des Fleur Azuma Makoto is known for his extravagant, otherworldly floral arrangements. (Forbes)

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