Word Confusion: Consul vs Council vs Counsel

Posted January 24, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

This is another trio of heterographic word confusions of which I must stay aware. Think government when using council…it’s that double-c. Makes it hard, whereas the softer side of counsel can be a help, advisory if you will.

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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Consul Council Counsel
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Two Roman consuls reclining in their chairs

“Console” courtesy of Pinterest.

Two consuls of Rome presiding over the proceedings.

“ITU Council 2013” courtesy of ITU Pictures under the CC BY 2.0 license, via VisualHunt.

“QC in Court Robes” by Leslie Ward is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Caricature of Sir Robert Alfred McCall, a King’s Counsel in Britain.

Part of Grammar:
Plural for noun: consuls
Plural for noun: councils
Noun 1;
Verb, intransitive & transitive 2

Plural for the noun: counsel
Third person present verb: counsels
Past tense or past participle: counseled, counsells [British] Gerund or present participle: counseling, counselling [British]

An official appointed by a government to live in a foreign city and protect and promote the government’s citizens and interests there

[Ancient Rome] One of the two annually elected chief magistrates who jointly ruled the republic

  • Any of the three chief magistrates of the first French republic (1799–1804)
A body of people who gather to give advice, suggestions, rule, or act for a larger group

  • A body of people elected to manage the affairs of a city, county, or other municipal district
  • An ecclesiastical assembly
  • An assembly or meeting for consultation or advice
Advice, especially that given formally

  • Consultation, especially to seek or give advice

Lawyer or lawyers conducting a case

Verb, intransitive:
To give counsel or advice

To get or take counsel or advice

Verb, transitive:
[Usually formal] Give advice to someone

  • Give professional psychological help and advice to someone
  • Recommend a course of action
Pompeius Pedo was a consul in Rome in the 1st century A.D..

In the past, the U.S. government relied on chief merchant-agents to act as a consul in their country to protect American property and estates and care for sailors and residents.

The first American Consul for Australia was appointed in 1836.

While any one country has only one U.S. embassy and ambassador, it may have several consulates with its own consul generals throughout that country.

The council will vote on the proposed regulation today.

John Jones is on the council for the Fourth District.

We held a family council on what to do about Mom’s driving.

The intention of the Council of Nicea was to stop infighting in the Roman Catholic Church.

Dr. Jones gave counsel to the unhappy boy.

Them? They are the counsel for the defense.

I think I’ll keep my own counsel on that.

She’s being counseled for depression.

Verb, intransitive:
We seek counsel, my lord.

I need to take counsel.

Thank god Pam was paying attention to her friend’s counsel.

Verb, transitive:
She was being counseled for depression.

Dr. Jones counseled the wayward lads.

He was counseled by his supporters to return to Germany.

George’s coach counseled caution.

Adjective: consular, nonconsular, subconsular
Noun: consulate, consulship, subconsul
Noun: councilman, councilor, councillorship, councilorship, councilwoman, subcouncil
British spelling: councillor
Adjective: counselable, uncounseled
British spellings: counsellable, uncounselled
Noun: counselor, precounsel
Verb: precounseled, precounseling, recounsel, recounseled, recounseling
British spellings: precounselled, precounselling, recounselled, recounselling
History of the Word:
Late Middle English denoting an ancient Roman magistrate is from the Latin and is related to consulere meaning take counsel. Old English in the sense of ecclesiastical assembly. It’s from the Anglo-Norman French cuncile from the Latin concilium meaning convocation or assembly from con- (together) + calare (summon). Middle English via the Old French counseil 1, conseiller 2, from the Latin consilium meaning consultation or advice. It’s related to consulere.

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

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Le general Bonaparte au Conseil des Cinq-Cents by François Bouchot is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

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