I hesitate to post on the topic of frequently misused words, because lord knows I'm not perfect on this one. When I'm typing fast, I'm just as likely as the next person to type "their" when I mean "they're," or "lose" when I mean "loose." I know the difference, I'm just typing fast and not really paying attention and things slip by me.
But I've read so many typos/errors/misused words recently that I'm practically in rant mode. I read a book by a New York Times best-selling author from a major publishing house where twice in one book a character left a room in high dungeon. The first time it made me laugh, because it's obviously a mistake and it's kind of cute (how can you leave a room in a dungeon?). But the second time you have to at least consider the possibility that maybe they really didn't know that if you are bummed about something, you leave the room in high dudgeon. *shakes head* *thinks gloomily about the future of western civilization*
And then there's peak, peek, and pique (spelled differently but all pronounced the same). I've seen all three of them misused in the past couple of weeks, but at least it has mainly been in blog posts and self-pubs. So just for the record:
peak is the apex, summit, or highest point of something. You climb a mountain to its peak (and if you live in an outdoors area, you hear people say they are going to bag a peak). Or: Gas prices peaked at over $4 a gallon. Or: Whitney Houston was at her peak in the 80s.
peek is to look at something briefly, or through a small opening. You can peek in the oven to see if your muffins are done. Or a child can peek out from underneath the covers. (which will inevitably lead to playing peek-a-boo).
pique is to enhance or stimulate--The lecture about spelunking piqued my interest in caves. Or: their constant chatter about the movie star piqued my curiosity about her movies. Or pique can be used to describe being irritated or angry. She was piqued by the ceaseless rain. After the insult, he stormed out in a fit of pique.
Then there's "feeling peaky" which means feeling slightly out of sorts, but not really sick. And there's "feeling peckish," which is another thing entirely and means "hungry."
Are we clear? Although I have to confess, I thought there were "peek-toe shoes" because your toes peek out, right? But they're not peek-toe, they're peep-toe. According to freedictionary.com, "peep" can mean the same thing as "peek" sometimes (other times it means to utter a soft, high-pitched sound like a baby bird).
Oh, and PRIMROSE when used as a color is a shade of YELLOW. Seriously, people. It sounds like it should be pink because it has "rose" in it, but it's yellow. Look it up if you don't believe me. In Ulysses, Stephen Dedalus's treacherous friend Buck Mulligan is often associated with the color yellow, and he wears a primrose waistcoat.
This may turn into a series, but that's all for now. What is the mis-used word that irritates you the most? Ha--that piques you the most?
I sound disturbingly like an English teacher.