Word Confusion: Silicon versus Silicone

Posted August 7, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.

I gotta confess that I didn’t know there was a difference, and now I know that silicon is used in hard applications: computer parts, electronics, that sort of thing. Silicone is much more flexible, in every sense of the word.

Almost all of us encounter silicone everywhere in our lives: ice cube trays, potholders, the caulk that keeps moisture from seeping into places it shouldn’t, breasts, anti-graffiti paints, household care products, and so much more! It’s like the corn of the products world.

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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Silicon Silicone
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

“I Need Help” courtesy of University of Kentucky

Image is Дap Beтep’s own work [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Part of Grammar:
Noun Noun; Verb, transitive
Plural for the noun and Third person present verb: silicones
Past tense or past participle: siliconed
Gerund or present participle: siliconing
Computer and electronic parts

The chemical element of atomic number 14, a nonmetal with semiconducting properties, used in making electronic circuits that’s found in the earth’s crust and is used especially in computers and electronics.

It’s symbol is Si.

Products that soften, gloss, make flexible +++

Any of a class of synthetic materials that are polymers with a chemical structure based on chains of alternate silicon and oxygen atoms, with organic groups attached to the silicon atoms.

Such compounds are typically resistant to chemical attack and insensitive to temperature changes.

They are used to make rubber, plastics, polishes, and lubricants.

Verb, transitive:
Usually be siliconed

Join or otherwise treat (something) with a silicone.
Pure silicon exists in a shiny dark gray crystalline form and as an amorphous powder.

Silicon has the same crystal structure as diamonds.

Silicon is the basis of the widely used synthetic polymers called silicones.

Silicone is used in breast implants, molds, special lenses, sealants, and more.

Silly Putty has silicone in it.

Silicone is typically resistant to chemical attack and insensitive to temperature changes.

Verb, transitive:
The tile and tub were siliconed.

History of the Word:
First known use: 1817

Early 19th century as an alteration of the earlier silicium from the Latin silex, silic- meaning flint, on the pattern of carbon and boron.

First known use: 1905-10 as silic(on) + -one.

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:

Blue Silicone Dildo” by Eva K. [GFDL 1.2 or FAL] in contrast with “Quartz Brésil” which is Didier Descouens’ own work [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.