Word Confusion: Ringer versus Wringer

Posted March 28, 2012 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

This heterographic confusion just makes me want to ring someone’s neck—possibly with a gold necklace. Or, should I use silver? No—leather!!

On the other hand, wringing someone’s neck could put paid to their existence. And, one should never visit harm upon another. Ahem.

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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Ringer Wringer
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Merriam-Webster: ringer

A Russian sailor ringing the ship's bell

“The Royal Navy During the Second World War” by Royal Navy official photographer, Zimmerman, E A (Lt) is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A Russian rating sounding the bell of the Archangelsk, the former HMS Royal Sovereign.

A sales ad for a clothes wringer

“Clothes Wringer Ad From 1903” by DragonflySixtyseven is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This clothes wringer sold for $1.50 in 1903.

Part of Grammar:
Noun 1, 2 Noun
[Informal] An athlete or horse fraudulently substituted for another in a competition or event

  • A person’s or thing’s double, especially an impostor
  • A person who is highly proficient at a particular skill or sport and is brought in to supplement a team or group of people
  • One that enters a competition under false representations
  • One that strongly resembles another, often used with dead

A person or device that rings something

In certain games, a tossed object that encircles its intended target 2

  • A tossed horseshoe that encircles the stake
  • A tossed quoit that encircles the peg

A game of marbles in which the target marbles are placed in the center of a circular area

Device for squeezing or twisting water from wet clothes, mops, or other objects, like necks

Something that causes pain, hardship, or exertion

They brought in a ringer.

He’s a ringer for that actor Tom Hanks.

League eligibility rules had grown flexible to accommodate new teams, and ringers began suiting up.

He’s a dead ringer for the senator.

The bell ringers are scheduled to ring a peal for the New Year’s.

I remember my grandmother’s washing machine had a wringer attachment.

They really put him through the wringer!

I’d like to wring his neck!

His illness put his family through the wringer.

History of the Word:
1 First known use: 15th century

2 First known use: 1863

First known use: 14th century

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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