Word Confusion: Heal versus Heel

Posted August 26, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

I dunno. I never have understood how anyone can confuse these. Well, to be fair, I suspect it’s more often a case of spellcheck not catching it than someone actually confusing it…please god… This heterograph is a good example of writers needing a proofreader or copyeditor, though.

Part of writing a good story is drawing your reader into the story. Making him or her forget the world around them and fall completely into yours…I do love it when I get that absorbed! However, while the occasional lapse in spelling or punctuation doesn’t throw me too bad (and I am not the only reader who notices problems), there can be a variety of reasons why I get tossed out of the world you’re creating from poorly constructed sentences, sentences I have to read and re-read, awful punctuation…and using the wrong word.

Be aware of those confusions. I don’t want to read about a doctor heeling his patient. Well, unless he’s a veterinarian. I suppose I could handle some guy healing his dog on the sidewalk. After all, maybe the dog went into convulsions or got hit by a car. Of course, it’s possible that somebody heeling his girlfriend could be into BDSM…buttttt that doesn’t happen that often in the books I read…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.

If you found this post on “Heal versus Heel” interesting, consider tweeting it to your friends. Subscribe to KD Did It, if you’d like to track this post for future updates.

Return to top

Heal Heel
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Definitions; Dictionary.com

Image Courtesy of Harvard Health Publications

From an article by Dr. Jeffrey Katz with Gloria Parkinson about aching backs.

Image Courtesy of Coastal Canine Magazine

Part of Grammar:
Adjective; Noun;
Verb, intransitive & transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: heals
Past tense or past participle: healed
Gerund or present participle: healing

Noun 1, 2, 3;
Verb, intransitive & transitive 1,2

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: heels
Past tense or past participle: heeled
Gerund or present participle: heeling

[Healing] A healing effect on the entire body

[Healing] The gift of healing

Verb, intransitive:
Become sound or healthy again

Verb, transitive:
[Of a person or treatment] Cause a wound, injury, or person to become sound or healthy again

Alleviate a person’s distress or anguish

Correct or put right an undesirable situation

Back part of the foot below the ankle 1

  • Part of the palm of the hand next to the wrist
  • Part of a shoe or boot supporting the heel
  • Part of a sock covering the heel
  • [Heels] High-heeled shoes

A thing resembling a heel in form or position, in particular:

  • End of a violin bow at which it is held
  • Part of the head of a golf club nearest the shaft
  • Crusty end of a loaf of bread, or the rind of a cheese
  • Piece of the main stem of a plant left attached to the base of a cutting
  • Rear of the palm, next to the wrist

Control, subjugation

Latter or concluding part of something

After end of the keel of a ship

[As an exclamation] A command to a dog to walk close behind its owner

An instance of a ship leaning over in such a way 2

  • The degree of incline of a ship’s leaning measured from the vertical

Contemptibly dishonorable or irresponsible person 3

Verb, intransitive:
Touch the ground with the heel when dancing 1

  • To use the heels, as in dancing
[Of a dog] To follow at one’s heels on command

[Of a boat or ship] Be tilted temporarily by the pressure of wind or by an uneven distribution of weight on board, cant, tilt 2

Verb, transitive:
Fit or renew a heel on a shoe or boot 1

[Of a dog] Follow closely behind its owner

[Golf] Strike the ball with the heel of the club

Strike, prod, or propel with the heel

Cause a boat or ship to lean over in such a way 2

He has a healing gift.

He has the gift of healing.

His concern is to heal sick people.

He would have to wait until his knee had healed.

Time can heal the pain of grief.

The rift between them was never really healed.

He rubbed the heel of his hand against the window. 1

I prefer shoes with low heels.

Many women wear heels.

The vertical separation varies with the angle of heel and is at the mercy of buoyancy and weight. 2

What kind of a heel do you think I am? 3

Verb, intransitive:
He heeled to win the game. 1

The dog won’t heel.

The cargo had not been loaded properly from the way the ship was heeling to one side.2

Verb, transitive:
These dogs are born with the instinctive urge to heel. 1

Damn, I heeled it!

As the boat heels, the wind pressure on the sails decreases because the sails present a smaller area to the wind (Discover Boating) 2.

The ship heeled in going about.

Adjective: healable, half-healed, unhealable, unhealed
Verb, transitive: preheal
Adjective: heelless
History of the Word:
Old English hǣlan (in the sense of restore to sound health), of Germanic origin and related to the Dutch heelen and the German heilen 1 From the Old English hēla, hǣla are of Germanic origin and related to the Dutch hiel

2 Late 16th century from the obsolete heeld, hield meaning incline and of Germanic origin

Related to the Dutch hellen.

3 1910-1915, Americanism; perhaps a euphemistic shortening of shit-heel.

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

Pinterest Photo Credits:

“Healing process after heel surgery” is Kaspar1892’s own work [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. The graphic in the Pinterest pin above shows day 2, day 15, day 20, and 6 months after surgery.