Word Confusion: Cereal versus Serial

Posted January 23, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Yes, I have run into a few of these cereal vs serial word confusions, but not many. I’m mostly doing a comparison ’cause I like the words…!

I do tend to devour books, and I particularly like serials, i.e., books in a series. Easy enough to notice if you look over my list of urban fantasy and paranormal romance series that I’ve read…*grin*… I have definitely been known to enjoy cookies and milk as I read, but you’ll never find me shredding a book into a bowl and pouring milk and sugar over it! Ick…the ink gets all blurry.

If you find you do have a problem telling the difference, remember that cereal and corn both start with a c.

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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Cereal Serial
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

“Shopping for Cereal” courtesy of A Nutritionist Eats

Such a practical website, learning what a nutritionist chooses for herself…

“Serial COM” courtesy of Innovatic.dk

Part of Grammar:
Adjective 1; Noun
Plural: cereals
Adjective; Noun
Plural: serials
Describes a type of container

A grain used for food, such as wheat, oats, or corn

  • [Usually cereals] A grass producing such grain, grown as an agricultural crop
  • Breakfast food made from roasted grain, typically eaten with milk
Consisting of, forming part of, or taking place in a series

  • [Music] Using transformations of a fixed series of notes
  • [Computing; of a device] Involving the transfer of data as a single sequence of bits
  • [Computing; of a processor] Running only a single task, as opposed to multitasking
  • [Linguistics; of verbs] Used in sequence to form a construction
  • [Grammar] A comma used after the penultimate item in a list of three or more items, before and or or

[Of a criminal] Repeatedly committing the same offense and typically following a characteristic, predictable behavior pattern

  • [Of a person] Repeatedly following the same behavior pattern
  • Denoting an action or behavior pattern that is committed or followed repeatedly

A story or play appearing in regular installments on television or radio or in a magazine or newspaper

  • [Usually serials; in a library] A periodical
Grab those cereal boxes.

We had low yields for cereal crops this year.

I just want a bowl of cereal.

I want cereal!

My favorite hot cereal in childhood was Cocoa Wheats.

Magazines are a type of serial publication.

They’re calling them serial killings now.

Elizabeth Taylor’s short marriages were a type of serial monogamy.

He’s a a suspected serial rapist.

He was a serial adulterer.

One example of using a serial comma is “an Italian painter, sculptor, and architect”.

There’s a new three-part drama serial with Helen Mirren in it.

They wanted, needed, longed for peace.

I recently finished a serial of David Weber’s Honorverse.

Someone suffering from OCD is exhibiting serial behavior.

“Serial tasking is a kind of hybrid between multitasking and singletasking” (Make Use Of.com).

Adjective: noncereal
Noun: noncereal
Adjective: nonserial
Adverb: nonserially, serially
Noun: nonserial, seriality
History of the Word:
1 Early 19th century from the Latin cerealis, from Ceres, the name of the Roman goddess of agriculture 1846 from series + -al, perhaps suggested by the French sérial.

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, “Cereal Killers”, by Mitchell Wells at Horror Society, is a crack-up with sixteen different cereals horrorfied by artist Joe Simko. If you like, you can buy Cereal Killer cards over at Wax-Eye.com. At the least, go have a look, lol.