I do like a -us or -ous distinction that’s not just talking about American versus British English, and, well, enjoyed wouldn’t be quite the right term, would it, did some writing about this when I covered mucus or mucous. So here’s another pair of words that sound and are spelled almost the same but don’t mean the same, and you wouldn’t really want to mix them up, would you!
Viscus, it turns out (I didn’t know this off the top of my head. One of the most important rules of being an editor is know when to look things up, and I always check even the ones I think I know in several resources before posting these articles) – is the singular form of the word viscera (which is the word for the internal organs, particularly those in the abdomen).
Viscous describes the state between being a liquid and being a solid: a thick stickiness. Ugh. When I did a search to make sure I hadn’t written about this before, the results came up with my mucus or mucous and unguent or ungulant articles. I think I’ll write about something sere and dry and non-sticky next …
You can find more troublesome pairs here, and here’s the index to them all!