Commonly Misused Words – Part 3

Today is the third in a series of lessons on correct word usage.  The words we’re going to look at today are: duck tape/duct tape, dew/do/doo/due, drug/dragged, duel/dual, and dreamed/dreamt.  Do you know how to correctly use these words?  Let’s see…

Duck Tape/Duct Tape:  I’ve often wondered why some people use the term duck tape when describing duct tape and now I know why.  During World War II, Johnson & Johnson developed a green adhesive tape to waterproof ammunition cases called duck tape.  A similar tape, only silver, called duct tape was often used when connecting ventilation and other ducts in buildings and is now sold in stores for multiple uses. To complicate matters, a manufacturer selling duct tape has named its brand Duck Tape. However, the correct term is duct tape.

Dew/Do/Doo/Due:  Dew is moisture on the grass in the morning.  Doo on the grass means a dog left you a present.  However, the most common confusion with all the “dos” is when people use do for due (owing) in expressions like “credit is due,” “due to circumstances beyond our control,” and “the bill is due.”  Do, normally a verb, can be a noun meaning “party,” “gig,” “hairstyle,” and used in the phrase “dos and don’ts.” 

Drug/Dragged: Dragged is the past tense of drag. The past form drug is dialectal.

Duel/Dual:  Duel is a dispute or fight.  Dual means two things that are together, or double as in “dual purpose,” or “dual layers.”

Dreamed/Dreamt: Either form is acceptable, though dreamed is typically American English and dreamt is more typical in British English.

Have you had any problems using the above words?

Lynnette Labelle
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