Word Confusion: Cache vs Cachet vs Cash

Posted January 31, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

This trio of heterographs makes me nuts, and I find it misused quite often. And it’s not really fair. It’s but one letter difference and, in some ways, very similar as well as completely different. Still, imagine the cachet of using it properly!

Well, that was helpful, wasn’t it?

Seriously, the similarity is in the perception of unusual quality which both words share. Hey, I’m trying to provide y’all with an excuse…! A cache will always be a collection whether it’s the physical objects or the storing of them. It will always be physical.

Cachet is more metaphysical, a state that is a perception of quality. Audrey Hepburn epitomizes the general idea of high class, of quality; she has cachet. Perception can also be the clothes or jewelry you wear, the car you drive. Hey, if you’re driving a Rolls Royce, I am definitely going to think you have a certain level of cachet…*grin*…

The difference is one of physical reality — cache — versus the metaphysical — cachet.

Note: Cash was added 1 December 2016. It may convey a certain cachet and could be kept in a cache, but only cash will buy what you want.

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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Cache Cachet Cash
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: cache, cachet

“Bear Cache” by Jay Cross from Berkeley, California, US, is under the Creative Commons 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

“Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s” trailer was uploaded by Trailer screenshot and is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Audrey Hepburn epitomizes class, or in this case, cachet.

Assorted bills in a pile on a wooden floor

“Pile of Money in Front of Yongle Emperor Statue at Changling Tomb” is Daniel Chase‘s own work and is under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

No matter what it’s worth, it’s still a pile of cash.

Part of Grammar:
Noun; Verb, transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: caches
Past tense or past participle: cached
Gerund or present participle: caching

Plural for noun: cachets
Noun 1, 2; Verb, transitive 1

Plural for the noun: cash
Third person present verb: cashes
Past tense or past participle: cashed
Gerund or present participle: cashing

Collection of items of the same type stored in a hidden or inaccessible place

[Computers] An auxiliary memory from which high-speed retrieval is possible

  • A hidden or inaccessible storage place for valuables, provisions, or ammunition

A hiding place, especially one in the ground, for ammunition, food, treasures, etc.

Anything so hidden

[Computers] A temporary storage space or memory that allows fast access to data

[Alaska and Northern Canada] A small shed elevated on poles above the reach of animals and used for storing food, equipment, etc.

Verb, transitive:
Store away in hiding or for future use by humans or animals

  • [Computing] Store data in a cache memory
  • [Computing] Provide hardware with a cache memory
State of being respected or admired


Superior status

Distinguishing mark, feature, stamp, or seal

  • [Philately] A printed design stamped or printed on an envelope or folded letter to commemorate a special event, a firm name, slogan, or design

[Pharmacology] A flat capsule or hollow wafer enclosing a dose of unpleasant-tasting medicine

An official seal, as on a letter or document

A sign or expression of approval, especially from a person who has a great deal of prestige

Money in coins or notes, as distinct from checks, money orders, or credit 1

  • Money in any form, especially that which is immediately available

[Historical] A coin of low value from China, southern India, or Southeast Asia 2

Verb, transitive:
Give or obtain notes or coins for a check or money order

  • [Bridge] Lead a high card so as to take the opportunity to win a trick
  • [Cards] To lead an assured winner in order to win a trick
We found a cache of gold coins.

Store it in the cache.

Clearing out the cache should fix it.

She hid her jewelry in a little cache in the cellar.

The enemy never found our cache of food.

If you run into problems on the Internet, consider clearing your cache.

A CPU cache is a smaller, faster memory which stores copies of the data from frequently used main memory locations.

Verb, transitive:
John cached a store of food against our return.

Cache it in the memory.

She does have a certain cachet.

It added a certain cachet to her and her paramours.

No other shipping company had quite the cachet of Cunard.

Courtesy is the cachet of good breeding.

The job has a certain cachet.

Greenies puts out a cachet to make it easier to give pills to pets.

The staff were paid in cash.

Is there a discount for cash?

She was always short of cash.

It’ll have to be a cash transaction.

Verb, transitive:
I’m cashing out while I’m ahead.

“In order to cash dummy’s ace, you must play a card in a different suit, so that dummy will win the trick (Bridge World).

He cashed his ace and led the queen.

Noun: cache memory Adjective: cashable, uncashed
Noun: cashability, cashableness
Phrasal Verb
cash in
cash something in
cash out
History of the Word:
Late 18th century from the French cacher meaning to hide. Early 17th century from the French cacher in the sense of to press based on the Latin coactare meaning constrain. 1 Late 16th century denoting a box for money is from the Old French casse or Italian cassa meaning box, from the Latin capsa.

2 Late 16th century from the Portuguese caixa is from the Tamil kāsu, which was influenced by 1.

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

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

The post, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous — How Do They Make It Look So Easy?”, is courtesy of Jason Henzell, via FIR Productions.