Recant vs recount

Recant and recount 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 recant and recount, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

Recant means to repudiate something one has stated or to renounce something one had originally endorsed. For instance, someone who gave a statement to police and then admitted that his statement had been false, is said to recant. Recant is an intransitive verb, which is a verb that does not take an object. Related words are recants, recanted, recanting. The word recant is derived from the Latin word, recantare, which means to revoke.

Recount may mean to count again or the amount that has been counted again, or it may mean to give an account or to narrate a story or incident or the narration of the account or incident. Recount may be used as a noun or as a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are recounts, recounted, recounting; the word recount to mean to give an account is derived from the Old French word, reconter, which means to tell again.


The attorney for a Lima man charged with assaulting his girlfriend on Tuesday expressed concerns that the woman will recant statements made to police surrounding the incident. (Lima News)

Some soldiers on Friday invaded some communities in the Yewa-North Local Government Area of Ogun State and forced the victims to recant torture allegation against them. (Punch Newspapers)

The first day of the court-ordered recount started at 9 a.m. and concluded at 4:50 p.m. (Press of Atlantic City)

On Tuesday, at the first congressional hearing to investigate the January 6 Capitol insurrection, officers who defended the building that day recounted in their own words harrowing scenes of violence and the trauma they’ve continued to endure. (Mother Jones Magazine)

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