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It happens to the best of us

It happens to the best of us
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We’ve all been there. Things we’ve been saying or thinking for years finally, and suddenly, are brought to our attention. Some words don’t actually mean the same thing, even if you’ve heard them used interchangeably.

Maybe you’re talking to a group of work friends when suddenly someone looks at you strangely. Or worse, maybe you’re on a first date and they correct you on the spot. False equivalencies, near-synonyms, and things you’ve been saying wrong this whole time can really come back to bite you.

Whatever the case may be, we know that assumptions about things being the same – which turn out to not be the same – happen when we least expect it. Words can be tricky, but these small, intricate differences are actually important to know.

Watch out that you’re not also using these redundant phrases.

Poisonous and venomous

Poisonous and venomous
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“Venomous” applies to animals that bite or sting, injecting toxins. Anything that’s “poisonous” unloads toxins when you eat it, according to the Encyclopedia. So saying a snake is “poisonous” is almost always incorrect as the snake bite is what usually releases toxins. One exception is the garter snake which has a small or harmless bite but is toxic to eat, per the Encyclopedia.

Macaroons and macarons

Macaroons and macarons
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One letter in spelling these sweet treats is a small difference between two almost completely different desserts. French “macarons” are meringue-based sandwich cookies with either ganache, jam, or buttercream filling. They are notoriously tricky to make, but macaroons aren’t. “Macaroons” have shredded coconut as the main ingredient and only take 30 minutes or less to make.

Robberies and burglaries

Robberies and burglaries
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A “robbery” is some person-to-person interaction and theft with, “force, intimidation, or coercion,” according to the Law Office of Nancy King. “Burglary,” however, only requires intent to steal, it doesn’t require actually stealing property or a person interaction. Meanwhile, “theft” simply means you stole without interacting with anyone.

Here are 12 separate words everyone always joins together, but shouldn’t. 

Great Britain and the United Kingdom

Great Britain and the United Kingdom
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Although foreigners might mix up these words, they aren’t interchangeable. According to the Encyclopedia, “Great Britain” is a geographic and political term referring to the island of Britain including Wales, Scotland, England as well as some other small islands off the coast. The “United Kingdom” is a political term and independent country including all of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. So while Great Britain is part of the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom is not part of Great Britain.

The flu and colds

The flu and colds
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Colds and cases of the flu have lots of similarities, which is why some people confuse the two terms. They are both respiratory infections from viruses with some lousy symptoms. Some of the cold symptoms are a sore throat, runny nose and maybe a nasal drip, too. “Flu” symptoms differ since the nose is sometimes congested, there’s almost always fever and extreme exhaustion. Unlike the flu, however, “colds” and cold symptoms don’t last as long those of the flu and flu symptoms could develop or lead to serious complications.

Learn how to decrease your chances of catching a virus. 

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Streets, roads, and avenues

Streets, roads, and avenues
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These terms aren’t just fun ways to change up the language of street names. “Roads” are typically throughways connecting two points, but “streets” are public roads with buildings on both sides, Mental Floss reports. So while “streets” are “roads,” “roads” aren’t “streets.” Then there are “avenues” which run perpendicular to roads. If you live on a “boulevard” or “lane,” there are also differences for those subsections of streets and roads, too.

Whole wheat and whole grain foods

Whole wheat and whole grain foods
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Products that are “whole wheat” are also “whole grain,” but not all “whole grain” products are “whole wheat” as wheat is a type of grain. A food is “whole grain” if it uses the entire grain kernel including the outer bran shell and the germ, SELF reports.

Cement and concrete

Cement and concrete
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Although people use “cement” and “concrete” interchangeably, they are different things. In fact, “cement” is the binding ingredient in “concrete”. Concrete also has air, water and a mix or combination of “aggregate” including sand, gravel or crushed stone. The ingredients making up cement, however, include aluminium, iron, calcium, silicon and other elements.

Retinol and retinoids

Retinol and retinoids
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Skincare and beauty lovers should note that anti-ageing ingredients retinol and retinoids aren’t equal. “Retinoids” are a group of vitamin A derivatives, says board-certified dermatologist Edidiong Kaminska, MD. These chemicals boost cell turnover, smoothing fine lines and evening skin tone. “Retinol” is a specific kind of retinoid that’s not as powerful as a prescription retinoid.

Try these 27 tricks for naturally glowing skin – no expensive products required. 

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