English is confusing. Pronunciations aren’t consistent, spellings are a crapshoot, synonyms run rampant.
And today, we’ve got three words that sound very similar, but mean very different things:
I get these three mixed up. Maybe you do, too.
Let’s see if we can explain.
torrid – hot, burning, passionate
“Torrid” means hot in a literal sense, like fire. It also means hot like a passionate love affair. Either way, it’s intense.
Next up: only one letter off, but very different.
torpid – sluggish, apathetic
“Torpid” means sleepy, lazy, I-don’t-care. Now, what picture could I use…?
Nobody does torpid like Garfield.
And our final word:
turgid – swollen, inflated, pompous
Again, this can mean literally swollen, like a bug bite. But it can also refer to style. A book can be turgid if it has a self-important, pretentious, inflated kind of writing.
And who’s more self-important, inflated, turgid than the Wizard of Oz?
So: torrid, torpid, and turgid.
One of the many great things about the Chicago Manual of Style website (which is not free) is a page called “Good usage versus common usage,” which covers a lot of these types of words. Ability, capability, capacity. Adverse & averse. And, of course, the always popular “affect” and “effect.”
And that’s just a few of the ones under the letter “a.” I could spend hours there.
When you have a spare hour sometime, take a look at the differences and overlapping meanings between gibe, jibe, and gybe. Insane.
I think you will enjoy this if you haven’t seen it already. English is a weird language.
That was a new one on me. Love it, though. 🙂
What is the difference between Turgid and Tumid?
This helped a lot. Thanks!