Word Confusion: Boy versus Buoy

Posted October 3, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Oh, buoy, what a mess. It’s not as if buoy is such a commonly used word in a story, and if a story has a maritime setting, then I’d assume the author knew the difference between boy and buoy, even if the words are a pair of heterographs.

Of course, it’s always possible that the author was too confident in his (or her) spellcheck tools…which is always a mistake. Spellchecks can’t, yet, determine proper spelling based on context. As it is, the spellcheck tool can see the word is properly spelled. It can’t tell that it’s the wrong correctly spelled word for that sentence.

Meanwhile, get the boys to pay attention to their grammar, er, buoys marking the channel into the harbor.

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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Boy Buoy
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

“Khmer Children”, courtesy of Sovanna02 (Kompong Thom, Cambodia), is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A pair of boys with the older boy welcoming the baby boy to the family.

“Buoy Seal” by User:RadicalBender (Special:Contributions/User:RadicalBender) is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The sea lion gives you a good idea how big that buoy is!

Part of Grammar:
Exclamation; Noun
Plural: boys
Adjective; Noun; Verb, transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: buoys
Past tense or past participle: buoyed
Gerund or present participle: buoying

[Informal] Used to express strong feelings, especially of excitement or admiration

Male child or young man

  • A son
  • A male child or young man who does a specified job

Used informally or lightheartedly to refer to a man

  • Dated used as a friendly form of address from one man to another, often from an older man to a young man
  • [Dated, offensive, often used as a form of address] A black or other race considered inferior by the one using the term to a male servant or worker
  • Used as a form of address to a male dog
Describing the use of buoys

Anchored float serving as a navigation mark, to show reefs or other hazards, or for mooring.

Verb, transitive:
Keep someone or something afloat

  • [Often used as be buoyed]
    • Cause to become cheerful or confident
    • Cause a price to rise to or remain at a high level

Mark with a buoy

Oh boy, that’s wonderful!

Oh boy, you shouldn’t have dropped that vase!

A group of six boys

She put her little boy to bed.

A delivery boy

The inspector was a local boy.

My dear boy, don’t say another word!

You, boy, come here!

Down, boy, down!

Thankfully, it was a buoyed channel.

The buoys mark the entrance to the harbor.

Verb, transitive:
I let the water buoy up my weight.

The party was buoyed by an election victory.

The price is buoyed up by investors.

Adjective: boyish Adjective: buoyant, unbuoyed
History of the Word:
First use was in Middle English to denotes a male servant; origin is unknown Middle English.

Probably from the Middle Dutch boye, boeie, from a Germanic base meaning signal.

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

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

“Boy Scouts Association in Britain” photographed by Nicholls, Horace, which is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. The photograph was taken during World War I of “a member of the Sea Scouts [British Boy Scouts] bringing in a buoy which had been washed up on the shore”.

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