Word Confusion: Palate vs Palette vs Pallet

Posted October 17, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 27 September 2017

This word confusion over when to use palate, palette, or pallet drives me absolutely wild!!!!!!! And no, I haven’t any tricks that would help differentiate between them.

It does drive home to me that authors are not necessarily fascinated by words, but are more interested in telling a story. Which is, of course, quite fair… But I gotta tell ya…when I do run across a confusion such as this, it starts revving up my critical motor, and I become more aware of the possibility of more errors. The more I run across, the more I begin to read simply to find that next Easter egg, the next mistake. I hate that, as I’d rather be absorbed by your story.

Errors such as these also drop my estimation of your story (article, post, thought, etc.) If needs be, make a list of words that are a problem area for you. Do a FIND when you finish your story and manually check to ensure some words didn’t get confused. At the very least, your readers’ attention will be on what you are saying as opposed to how you are saying it.

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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Palate Palette Pallet
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: palate, palette, or pallet

“Palate: Head and Neck” is courtesy of Wikipedia

“Oil Painting Palette” by Mlaoxve is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A girl in medieval clothing sitting on a bunk piled with straw to sleep on

This colored plate is from page 149 of “Feudal Tales, being a collection of romantic narratives and other poems” is courtesy of The British Library and has no known copyright restrictions, via Visual Hunt.

A straw pallet would be itchy…

Part of Grammar:
Plural: palates
Plural: palettes

Alternative spelling: pallet (which, as an artist, I have never seen used)

Noun 1, 2, 3
Alternative spelling: palette (see the column to the left)

Verb, transitive 4

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: pallets
Past tense or past participle: palleted
Gerund or present participle: palleting

Taste sensors contained in the roof of the mouth

An appreciation for food and drink or simply liking

  • Intellectual or aesthetic taste
  • Mental appreciation

[Medical] The bony and muscular partition between the oral and nasal cavities

[Anatomy] The roof of the mouth, consisting of an anterior bony portion (hard palate) and a posterior muscular portion (soft palate) that separate the oral cavity from the nasal cavity

[Botany; in some two-lipped corollas] The projecting part of the lower lip that closes the opening of the corolla

A flat surface used by artists to hold paint

A blunt blade used to scrape or apply paint

A range of colors used by an artist when creating a particular piece of art, a decorator in designing a room, a scene, etc., or a musician in choosing tones or instruments for a piece

[Computer Graphics] Range of colors used in a computer or software program

[Ancient Egyptian art] A somewhat flattish slate object of various shapes, carved with commemorative scenes or motifs or, especially in the smaller pieces, containing a recessed area probably for holding eye makeup and often used as a votive offering

A crude mattress, usually found on the floor 1

A small or makeshift bed

A portable platform used to keep objects or people off the ground or make it easier to move a pile of objects with a forklift 2

A flat wooden blade with a handle, used to shape clay or plaster

An artist’s palette

A projection on a machine part, serving to change the mode of motion of a wheel

  • [In a clock or watch] A projection transmitting motion from an escapement to a pendulum or balance wheel

A flat board or metal plate used to support ceramic articles during drying

[Printing] Typeholder

[In gilding] An instrument used to take up the gold leaves from the pillow and to apply and extend them

[Heraldry] The diminutive of the pale, a narrow vertical strip, usually borne in groups of two or three 3

Verb, transitive:

  • To place materials upon pallets for handling or moving
  • To perform (a materials-handling operation) with the aid of pallets
  • To equip with pallets or with the ability to handle pallets
That man has no palate for a decent wine!

Can your palate taste the tartness of the lime?

You have a very discerning palate for fine things.

This is a wine with a zingy, peachy palate.

The bony part of the palate is called the hard palate.

Desfontaines’ toad-flax has a yellow palate.

Yellow Rattle, Rhinanthus minor, has numerous palates, since the flower resembles two lips when it’s open.

Michelangelo squeezed out the colors he would use on the ceiling onto his palette.

Using his palette knife, Picasso picked up the color and spread it across the canvas.

I prefer a palette of bright, cheerful colors.

He commands the sort of tonal palette that this music needs.

The decorator used a palette of cool colors for the bathrooms.

The Internet has a limited palette of colors.

Mummy, have you seen my palette.

Thank god for forklifts! It’s so much easier to move pallets of boxes with one.

We can make up a pallet of pine boughs.

God, this is a moldy pallet.

Pallets are quite popular these days for interior decorating.

He made up a pallet of furs on the cave floor.

Verb, transitive:
They’ll need to palletize the truck.

They just finished palletizing the load.

Adjective: palatable, palateless, palatelike Adjective: palettelike Noun: palletization, palletisation [British] Verb, transitive: palletize, palletise [British]
History of the Word:
Late Middle English from the Latin palatum. Late 18th century from the French, a diminutive of pale meaning shovel, from the Latin pala meaning spade. 1 Middle English from the Anglo-Norman French paillete, which is from paille meaning straw, which is itself from the Latin palea.

2 Late Middle English from the French palette meaning little blade, from the Latin pala meaning spade.

3 Late 15th century, pale (heraldry).

4 1550-60 Middle French palette meaning small shovel. See palette.

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

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Pinterest Photo Credits

Three different images have been Photoshopped to distort, resize, and adjust from outside their original images: Linaria vulgaris is Michael H. Lemmer‘s own work under the CC BY-SA 2.5 license and is used as the palate — the two-lipped version!, a.k.a., “the paint”, I’m spreading on the pallet, Plan Palette-Europe, which is WhiteTimberwolf Pil56’s GIF version and his own work under the GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 licenses while using Painting Knife, which is Stephhzz’s own work and in the public domain, as the palette knife to spread the “paint” about. All images are via Wikimedia Commons.

2 responses to “Word Confusion: Palate vs Palette vs Pallet

  1. OKI guess I would have thought of the pallet as a rack of sorts or a Futon Frame .. not the torture kind … the other two words I am happy to say I do not confuse…

    • I think you could consider a pallet a rack or a frame for a futon. Just don’t confuse it with tasting anything or being related to art. Although, I have been seeing some fascinating shelving, home déor, and furniture made out of pallets over on Pinterest. That’s rather artistic, LOL.