Special Report

Words People Get Wrong All the Time

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21. Counsel and Council

Counsel means advice or the person giving it, whereas a council is a group of people that advises or decides on various matters.

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22. Criteria and Criterion

The difference is simple — criteria is the plural of criterion, although the singular is falling out of use in everyday English.

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23. Desert and Dessert

People often confuse desert, the sandy place, and dessert, the sweet treat. The difference is only an “s,” but with desert, the first syllable is stressed, and with dessert, the second.

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24. Discreet and Discrete

Discreet means unobtrusive, low key, careful, whereas discrete means separate, individual. You can have discreet and discrete conversations.

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25. Elicit and Illicit

Elicit means to draw out or evoke. You wouldn’t elicit praise for something that was illicit, however, as that means illegal or unapproved.

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