Word Confusion: Vial versus Vile

Posted June 9, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 12 October 2017

There is a great difference between vial and vile, hence my choice of the image for vile. It’s unfortunately not difficult to think of actions that are more vile than that of the Nazis in World War II, as there is too much evil perpetrated by man upon man. They are, however, the easier images to find on the Internet.

It may also make it easier to understand my frustrations when I run across this particular word confusion. Coming across a sentence such as he was a vial man simply doesn’t convey the same feeling as he was a vile man. Personally, I like vials as well. Those cute little containers. I do prefer small bottles that are more curvaceous and preferably more of a carved appearance than those displayed below. Those little bottles are so handy for holding essential oils and to use for travel. I also like them for holding small beads and sequins. The only way I would feel vile toward my beads would be if they were spilling from a vial.

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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Vial Vile
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Merriam-Webster: vile

“Headspace Vials” are Mabschaaf’s own work under the CC-BY-SA-3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

“Bones of Anti-Nazi German Women Still in the Crematoriums in the German Concentration Camp at Weimar, Germany” by photographer, Army Pfc. W. Chichersky is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

What the Nazis did to people was absolutely vile.

Part of Grammar:
Alternate spelling: phial

Verb, transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: vials
Past tense or past participle: vialled
Gerund or present participle: vialling

A small container able to be closed, typically cylindrical and made of glass

Used especially for holding liquids

Verb, transitive:
To put into or keep in a vial

Extremely unpleasant, disgustingly or utterly bad

Morally despicable or abhorrent

Physically repulsive

[Archaic] Of little worth or value

He held up a vial of cocaine.

She purchased a vial of expensive oil.

Verb, transitive:
He vialled the potion and pocketed it.

He’s a vile, little man.

Lord, that smells vile!

You’re in a vile humor today.

The Holocaust was a vile act by morally despicable, repulsive people.

I am in no mood for your vile language.

Adjective: viler, vilest
Adverb: viley
Noun: vileness
Verb, transitive: revile
History of the Word:
Middle English fiole from Anglo-French viole which is from Late Latin fiola, an alteration of the Latin phiala. Middle English from the Old French which came from the Latin vilis meaning cheap, base.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Poison by Andrew Kuznetsov (Flickr: Poison) is under the CC BY 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.

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