Word Confusion: Defiant versus Definite

Posted October 27, 2012 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 23 August 2017

I’ve been kind of surprised how easily confused this pair of words seems to get.
And it is dang confusing when I’m reading along and “she was defiant about the time she last saw him” or “The soldier was definite to the end”.

I suppose it’s good for a soldier to be definite about what he’s doing, but I’d so prefer him to be defiant…

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Defiant Definite
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

The grass is green but the defiant snowman is still there

“Defiant Snowman” by Chris Downer is under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s been six or seven days since the snow fell, but this snowman is still hanging on quite substantially in St. Michaels Close in North Waltham.

A green sign stating the Law of Definite Proportions

Can’t get much more definite than that.

Part of Grammar:
Adjective Adjective
Showing open resistance or bold disobedience Clearly stated or decided

  • Not vague or doubtful
  • Clearly true or real
  • Unambiguous
  • [Predic.; of a person] Certain or sure about something
  • Clear or undeniable (used for emphasis)
  • Having exact and discernible physical limits or form
Examples:
She was in a defiant mood.

Toddlers can be quite defiant.

He was defiant about accepting any government money.

You could tell she was defiant about the situation.

He was a definite asset to the force.

I’m definite that Paul said he’d be here at two.

The is a definite article.

We had no definite plans.

No definite proof has emerged.

You’re very definite about that!

Video is a definite asset in the classroom.

Derivatives:
Adverb: defiantly Adverb: definitely
Noun: definiteness
History of the Word:
Late 16th century from the French défiant or directly from defiance. Mid-16th century from the Latin definitus meaning defined or set within limits and a past participle of definire.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits

This cropped image of “Nicole”, a French Partisan Who Captured 25 Nazis in the Chartres Area, in Addition to Liquidating Others, Poses with the Automatic Rifle with Which She is Most Proficient, 23 August 1994, is by an unknown person (or it was not provided) from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (5957431) is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. I can’t find the source I used for the war-torn background (which was given a 53% transparency).


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