Illegible or eligible

03 Oct

Here’s another one from Gill’s epic list, although I am over half way through this now, so please keep your suggestions coming! And I’m thinking of starting a new series of single words that often get used incorrectly, rather than being mixed up with another word.

These two, illegible and eligible, mean very different things, but their spellings and sounds are similar enough to cause confusion and mix-ups.

Illegible means not clear enough to be read – it usually seems to apply to handwriting, although it can be applied to anything that can be read. You do sometimes come across it being used to describe a particularly tortured or peculiar font. So “the doctor’s handwriting was illegible and no one knew what drugs to give me”; “Llama Font is really cute, but the results are pretty illegible”.

Something (or someone) is eligible if they fulfil or satisfy the appropriate conditions: “only those with an appropriate qualification are eligible to apply for this position”; “an eligible bachelor”.

Putting the two together: “The bachelor was eligible no longer to the neat handwriting obsessed bride, when his illegible handwriting was revealed”.

You can find more troublesome pairs here, and here’s the index to them all!

1 Comment

Posted by on October 3, 2011 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


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