Word Confusion: Rote versus Wrote

Posted May 18, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Learning how to write and practicing letters day after day was very much a rote learning exercise in school. It does not mean, however, that rote and wrote are the same. Not even if the w is silent. To say they are the same would be like saying passing ground school is the same as flying the plane.

And it still doesn’t excuse a sentence such as “he rote letters to his love”. I’d feel as if he were forced to write those letters. That he was saying the same thing over and over without really meaning it.

If instead, he wrote those letters, I would feel very cherished.

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. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Rote Wrote
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

chemistry drawing on a blackboard

Image by Peter Geymayer at de.wikipedia (Original text : Dr. Peter Geymayer) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons of Robert B. Woodward, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1965

I do remember rote memorization of the table of elements.


A masterpiece of a Book of Hours with medieval imagery and border designs

Image by Jean Bourdichon [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons with image restoration by Jebulon.

The Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany is a book of hours, commissioned by Anne of Brittany, Queen of France to two kings in succession, and illuminated in Tours or perhaps Paris by Jean Bourdichon between 1503 and 1508. This was before the Gutenberg press and monks wrote books out by hand.

Part of Grammar:
Noun Verb, intransitive & transitive

Present tense: write
Past participle: written
Gerund or Present participle: writing

Mechanical or habitual repetition of something to be learned Verb, intransitive:
Mark letters, words, or other symbols on a surface, typically paper, with a pen, pencil, or similar implement

  • Write in a cursive hand, as opposed to printing individual letters

Compose, write, and send a letter to someone

Compose a text or work for written or printed reproduction or publication

Put into literary form and set down in writing

Verb, transitive:
Mark letters, words, or other symbols on a surface, typically paper, with a pen, pencil, or similar implement

  • Fill out or complete (a sheet, check, or similar) in this way

Compose, write, and send (a letter) to someone

  • [Chiefly North American] Write and send a letter to someone)
  • [Write in] Write to an organization, especially a broadcasting station, with a question, suggestion, or opinion

Compose a text or work for written or printed reproduction or publication

Put into literary form and set down in writing

  • Compose a musical work
  • [Write someone into/out of] Add or remove a character to or from a long-running story or series
  • [Archaic] Describe in writing

[Computing] Enter data into a specified storage medium or location in store

Underwrite an insurance policy

Examples:
There are so many things we learn by rote, from the alphabet to our multiplication tables to “i before e, except after c”.

Practicing katas is a rote exercise intended to instill muscle memory.

Verb, intransitive:
He wrote very neatly in blue ink.

He couldn’t read or write.

He wrote almost every day.

He wrote in a cursive hand.

He wrote under a pseudonym.

Verb, transitive:
He wrote his name on the paper.

Alice wrote down the address.

He had to write a check for $800.

I wrote a letter to Alison.

I wrote him a short letter.

Mother wrote me and told me about poor Simon’s death.

If you have a question or suggestion, write to us.

I didn’t know you wrote poetry.

He had written about the beauty of Andalucia.

He has written a song specifically for her.

Oh, no. The author wrote my favorite character out of the story!

He wrote of the beauty of her eyes.

He wrote code when he worked for IBM.

Jamie underwrote an insurance policy for us.

Phrasal Verb
write something down
write someone in
write something (or someone) off
write something up
History of the Word:
Middle English in the sense of habit, custom, and primarily of unknown origin. Old English wrītan meaning score, form, as in letters by carving. It’s of Germanic origin and related to the German reissen meaning sketch, drag.

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C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?


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