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Mucus or mucous?

22 Feb

I haven’t posted a Troublesome Pair for ages but I’ve had this one up my sleeve (erm, no, I haven’t, that would be disgusting!) for ages and hadn’t got round to posting it. With a Birmingham Cough going the rounds still, this seemed a seasonal post; my apologies to the more sensitive reader. It is a valid and troublesome pair, though!

Mucus is the noun, i.e. the thing itself: slimy stuff that gets secreted by animals and even plants (it’s more commonly known as mucilage in plants, though mucilage is also, in general a viscous bodily fluid or secretion).

Mucous is the adjective – so mucous membranes secrete mucus, for example.

Bonus word: mucilaginous is the adjective that goes with mucilage. I bet you’re glad you asked, aren’t you!

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

 
8 Comments

Posted by on February 22, 2017 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing

 

Tags: , , ,

8 responses to “Mucus or mucous?

  1. kaggsysbookishramblings

    February 22, 2017 at 10:33 am

    Eeek! Informative – though I often find myself cursing mucus and wondering why the body produces so much of it….

    Liked by 1 person

     
  2. Rebecca Foster

    February 22, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    And here I thought it was just a US/UK difference like tumor/tumour. Very helpful to know about the adjectival form. I love your series — it’s so thorough!

    Liked by 1 person

     
  3. Don Massenzio

    February 23, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    Check out this helpful hint on the difference between Mucus and Mucous from the Libro Editing blog.

    Like

     
  4. aladybird

    April 13, 2017 at 10:24 am

    It isn’t always about UK vs US spellings, is it… Thanks for writing about another (really) troublesome pair. I’ve shared it via LinkedIn.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Liz Dexter

      April 13, 2017 at 11:10 am

      Yes, that’s right. And thank you for sharing it!

      Like

       

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