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Wicked vs wicked

  • Wicked and wicked  are two words that are spelled identically but are pronounced differently and have different meanings, which makes them heteronyms. These word pairs are often misused words. Heteronyms exist because of our ever-changing English language, and these words with the same spelling and different pronunciation and meaning are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. It can be difficult to learn how to spell different words that look the same but are not pronounced the same, and how to use them in sentences, because they are easily confused. The way the pronunciations and definitions differ can be confusing even to native English speakers when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Phonological spelling and spelling rules do not always work, and most people avoid misspelling and misuse by studying vocabulary words from spelling lists, enhancing their literacy skills through spelling practice, and learning words in English by studying a dictionary of the English language. English words are also spelled according to their etymologies rather than their sound. For instance, the word tear meaning a liquid drop that falls from an eye is derived from the Old English word tear, meaning a drop or nectar; tear meaning to pull apart comes from the Old English word tearan, which means to lacerate. Heteronyms are confusing words and are commonly misspelled words because of the confusion that arises from words that are pronounced differently but are spelled the same and come from a different etymology. They are often used in puns and riddles. When reading, it is sometimes difficult to know which word is being used in a sentence and how to pronounce the word phonetically. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake in English vocabulary, so do not rely on spell check for these commonly confused words but instead, learn to spell. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a heteronym in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. Do not confuse heteronyms with homophones, which are two or more words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings like sow and sew; do not confuse them with homonyms, which are words that have the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings like spring as in spring forth and spring as in the season of the year. Heteronyms are a type of homograph, which is a word that is spelled the same as another word but has a different meaning. We will examine the definitions of the words wicked and wicked, where these words came from, and a few examples of their use in sentences.

     

    Wicked (WICK ud) is an adjective that describes something that is evil, harmful, vicious, or morally vile. Witches are often said to be wicked; however, politicians or vengeful neighbors may also be considered wicked. A storm that causes damage may be said to be wicked. The word wicked is probably derived from the Old English word, wicca, which means wizard.

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    Wicked (WICKt) is the past tense of the verb, wick, which means to drain fluids or to absorb fluid as a wick does. A wick draws off fluid with a capillary action. The verb wicked only came into use in the mid-20th century. Related words are wick, wicks, wicking. Wick is derived from the Old English word, weoce, which is the wick of a candle or a lamp.

    Examples

    Retired Detective Chief Inspector Keith White, who went on to work for intelligence agencies including MI5, in an interview with ITV News Meridian, said: “To have done what he did…for me, he’s such a wicked man I don’t think he will ever change.” (Salisbury Journal)

    “These offences were as cowardly as they were wicked,” Judge Alan Conrad QC told Whittaker and Meek as they were sent down. (Manchester Evening News)

    “You had to find the right quality of hat so that it wicked off a lot of the wet guano,” says Sherker. (Hakai Magazine)

    Sweat poured from my brow, but the wind was so stiff it wicked away the perspiration droplets as fast as my adrenaline could manufacture it. (Outdoor Life Magazine)


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