Shirley's Articles / Grammar, Punctuation, Vocabulary

In Other Words: A Few Less Common Words Of Wisdom

We’ve all seen certain words misused. We are used to being reminded of the problems so many folks have with words like ‘their,’ ‘there,’ and ‘they’re,’ as well as ‘wear’ and ‘where.’

Well, the other day a friend of mine was browsing the Internet and happened to run across a dating site. Just for fun, she read a few of the profiles and nearly died laughing when several fellows wanted a ‘discrete relationship.’ So, whether these will help you or the lovelorn out on the dating websites, here are a few more commonly confused words to watch out for.

Discrete/ Discreet

Discrete – separate and distinct
My honour and my ethics are not discrete characteristics.

Discreet – careful and unobtrusive
Let’s have a discreet relationship, because I don’t want my wife to find out.


Remunerate – to pay, like a wage
We remunerate staff at the end of each month.

Renumerate – (This is just not a word. It’s merely a common misspelling of the word ‘remunerate.’)


Peak – the point at the top, like the top of a mountain
Mt. Fuji’s peak was covered with snow.

Peek – a sneaky look at something
You’d better not peek at your presents.

Pique – (n) irritation or (v) provoke
The little boy threw a fit of pique.
This book has piqued my interest in nuclear physics.


Led – to show the way (notice the past tense)
Kal led us to the conference room.

Lead – the metal
The huge book seemed heavy as lead.

Lead – (pronounced ‘leed’) to show the way (notice the present tense)
I will lead you to the promised land.


Whose – possessive case of ‘who,’ used in a question
Whose scarf did you accidentally pick up?

Who’s – the contraction of ‘who is.’
Who’s going the store today?


Nuclear – having to do with the nucleus of an atom
Will nuclear power ever be viable?

Nucular – (This is not a word. It is a common misspelling of ‘nuclear.’)


Disc – having to do with media like CDs, DVDs, etc.
Hand me the software disc, please.

Disk – thin, round object
I think I have a slipped disk.


Faze – disturb or disconcert
Their bad behaviour didn’t faze me a bit.

Phase – a specific period or stage
The flower is in its budding phase.


Sight – having to do with vision
The building was a real sight with all those decorations.

Site – a location
The building was being constructed on a reclaimed dump site.

The problem with some of these words and their misuse is that sometimes we don’t even know a different spelling or word exists. Hopefully you learned a new word or two and won’t make the mistake of having a discrete relationship on a dating sight.

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Shirley is an international bestselling author. She has established herself as a leading authority in email and business writing skills. Her international bestseller Model Business Letters, Emails & Other Business Documents 7th edition sold over half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into 17 languages. Her book Email Essentials reached #2 in the USA for publishers Marshall Cavendish International. Find out more about Shirley at

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