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Which words are correct?

Via ProofreadNOW, a grip of words to take to the Thanksgiving table to kickstart your night-long family argument. While some are obvious, there are a few in here that are genuinely informative. (I admit it; I never realized “fazed” was a legitimate word.)

  1. The turkey got his just desserts/deserts for eating up our supply of seeds!
  2. Don’t like creamed peas with your mashed potatoes? Grin and bare/bear it just the same.
  3. All awaited the arrival of Grandmother and Grandfather with baited/bated breath.
  4. His eloquent toast to the Pilgrims struck a responsive chord/cord in his guests’ minds.
  5. Standish disembarked with a full complement/compliment of settlers.
  6. Praying/Preying mantises are good for your garden, because they eat lots of aphids.
  7. Their leader wasn’t fazed/phased by the uprising of ill will.
  8. Extreme weather tested the Pilgrims’ medal/meddle/metal/mettle.
  9. The settlers paid rapt/rapped/wrapped attention to Squanto’s directions for growing corn.
  10. After all, a friend in need is a friend in deed/indeed.
  11. The smoke in the distance peaked/peeked/piqued their interest.
  12. The Mayflower got underway/under way in 1620.
  13. Use a clean compress to stanch/staunch the flow of blood.
  14. Their faith was a matter of principal/principle.
  15. Once given free reign/rein over their own destinies, their economy flourished.
  16. You better toe/tow the line or you’re back on the boat to England!
  17. The soup kitchen just off Capitol/Capital Hill has a great Thanksgiving feast for homeless people.
  18. Squanto had been taken to Europe, but was now back in his old stamping/stomping grounds.
  19. Stop! Or I’ll sic/sick my attack turkey on you!
  20. William Bradford and his shipmates pored/poured over the Mayflower Compact for days before signing it.
  21. He flaunted/flouted every rule in the book and every piece of good advice.
  22. The ship floundered/foundered in the storm, and the entire crew was lost.
  23. Chief Massasoit spoke pidgin/pigeon English at best, and relied on Squanto to translate for him.
  24. Global warming will (or won’t) wreck/wreak havoc on the American economy.


  1. deserts; only one s in the middle…you get what you deserve, and rarely does that include cake and ice cream
  2. bear; carry the load
  3. bated
  4. chord; but vocal cord, electrical cord, spinal cord
  5. complement; because it’s complete
  6. praying; because of how their front legs fold
  7. fazed
  8. mettle; quality of temperament or disposition
  9. rapt; wholly absorbed (from rapere to seize)
  10. indeed
  11. piqued
  12. under way; use the one word underway only as an adjective before a noun
  13. stanch; to check or stop the flowing of
  14. principle; the principal is your pal
  15. rein; let go of the reins and let the horse wander
  16. toe; “put your toes up to the line”
  17. capitol; mnemonic: the o in dome; but: Reno is the capital of Nevada.
  18. stomping; or stamping, take your pick; stamping is the more classic use
  19. sic; alteration of seek
  20. pored; to gaze intently
  21. flouted; actually, from playing the flute; M-W says confusion with flaunt is not necessarily substandard, though
  22. foundered; founder means to sink; flounder means to thrash about wildly
  23. pidgin; derives from business in Chinese
  24. wreak; funny thing, though…wreak‘s alternate pronunciation is identical to that of wreck

Source: Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary

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