Word Confusion: Rot versus Wrought

Posted October 19, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

I know, how could anyone possibly mistake these two? The number of letters alone should tell ya somethin’.

I gotta wonder if the writer with the rot iron ever experienced root rot or knows anything about wrought iron?

Of course, I suppose he could be talking about iron that’s rusting. That could be considered a rot. One could also be wrought up over a plant that’s suffering root rot. Oh, wait…it was rot iron he was talkin’ about. I dunno. The best interpretation I can come up with is that rotting, er, rusting iron…

Consider the following:
She’s rot.

Hmmm, sounds like she’s a nasty person.

She’s wrought.

She’s one upset lady.

I love rot…

Ewww, the stench of it, the squishiness!

I love wrought…

Hmmm, wrought iron in those flowing curlicues or being worked up into a state?

I have rot.

Damn, that’s a shame. Any chance you can change out the soil in the pot?

I have wrought.

Cool. What did you make?

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.

Rot Wrought
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Merriam-Webster: wrought

Crumbling remains of wood next to a yellow tape measure.

Mätes II’s own work [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Dry rot caused by Serpula lacrymans.

An elaborate wrought iron grille.

WOKRIE’s own work [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This wrought iron grille was created in 1862 by Oswald Kayser and can be found in St. Karl Church in Volders in the Tyrol, Austria.

Part of Grammar:
Noun 1; Verb, intransitive & transitive 2

Third person present verb: rots
Past tense or past participle: rotted
Gerund or present participle: rotting

Adjective; Verb

Past tense or past participle of work

The process of decaying

  • Rotten or decayed matter
  • [The rot] A process of deterioration
  • A decline in standards
  • [Usually with modifier] Any of a number of fungal or bacterial diseases that cause tissue deterioration, especially in plants

[Informal] Nonsense

[Informal] Rubbish

Verb, intransitive:
[Chiefly of animal or vegetable matter] Decay or cause to decay by the action of bacteria and fungi


To become unsound or weak (as from use or chemical action)

  • To go to ruin
  • To become morally corrupt

Verb, transitive:
[Chiefly of animal or vegetable matter] Decay or cause to decay by the action of bacteria and fungi


  • Gradually deteriorate through lack of attention or opportunity
[Of metals] Beaten out or shaped by hammering

  • Worked into shape by artistry or effort

Elaborately embellished

Processed for use

Deeply stirred

[Archaic] Past tense & past particle of work

The leaves were turning black with rot.

She was busy cutting the rot from the potatoes.

That’s a lot of rot!

It was when they moved back to the family home that the rot set in.

You’ve been overwatering again. This plant has root rot.

Heart rot causes decay in a tree’s heartwood.

Don’t talk rot.

Verb, intransitive:
The chalets were neglected and their woodwork was rotting away.

Verb, transitive:
Caries sets in at a weak point and spreads to rot the whole tooth.

He cannot understand the way the education system has been allowed to rot.

New Orleans is known for its delicate-looking wrought iron balconies.

“Whosoever shall bring into this realm any wrought silk to be sold, concerning the mystery of silk-workers, shall forfeit the fame…” (Great Britain).

It was a carefully wrought essay.

I love all the curlicues in that wrought iron gate!

The boys wrought havoc in the workplace.

She was obviously wrought up over something.

Adjective: rotten Adjective: wrought up
Noun: wrought iron
History of the Word:
1 First known use: 14th century from the Middle English and may have come via Scandinavia

2 First known use: before 12th century from the Middle English roten, from Old English rotian is akin to Old High German rōzzēn meaning to rot and related to the Dutch rotten.

First known use: 13th century

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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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