Bazaar or bizarre?

28 Sep

There have been a few odd things in the news recently, and seeing people’s comments on them has highlighted a common difficulty distinguishing between bizarre and bazaar. They’re odd words, and tricky to spell, with those difficult decisions on the double letters, so bookmark this blog post if you’re not sure about this pair!

Bizarre is the word you’re groping for when you want to describe something odd. It means something VERY odd or unusual, so a woman with a hat on her head might be less bizarre than a woman with three hats, or a parrot, on her head. How you remember the double r as opposed to the double z you might be tempted to include, is anybody’s guess. Maybe think of rolling your rrrrrrs in emphasis of the oddity of it all.

And here’s a lovely bonus word: A bizarrerie (plural: bizarreries) is a strange and unusual thing. Go on, work that into a sentence today.

Now we’ve got the odd one clear, a bazaar is a market in a Middle Eastern country (think souk, and the word comes from Persian, via Turkish and Italian) and also, more commonly, I suspect, a fund-raising sale of some kind, beloved of Church and charity fund-raising attempts. There’s a nice double a in this one, not a spelling you find often. If you watch Strictly Come Dancing, you can imagine Craig saying it in that voice of his: “I bought it at a bazaaaaaaar, dahling”.

Of course, you could find many bizarre items at a bazaar; in fact you’re pretty well certain to. Maybe that’s a good way to remember it.

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


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