Word Confusion: Cent vs Scent vs Sense vs Sent

Posted November 20, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

For just fifty cents, I can get a scent sample sent to me to sooth my senses.

Words that are so close in how they sound and yet, at either end of this row of words, are two words that are completely different from every other word while the two middle words — scent and sense — have more in common as they both have to do with the sense of smell.

Of course, while scent is strictly to do with the sense of smell, senses incorporates other senses besides smell: taste, touch, hearing, and sight. Some believe we have a sixth sense, a psychic sense, one which has little to do with the other three words. I suppose a psychic sense could have a tweak to it that allowed one to send the supernatural on their way. If you believe that sort of thing.

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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Cent Scent Sense Sent
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

“Penny, Pennies, Coins, Copper” by Jon Sullivan is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Even cents will add up to something.

“Joy by Jean Patou” by Sarchi (Flickr) under the CC-BY-2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Ah, the scent of Joy…

Monk tasting wine from a barrel

“Monk Tasting Wine From a Barrel” by Pieter Kuiper is via Wikimedia Commons

Drinking is one of the senses.

A postmarked air mail card

“Air Mail Letter Card from 1943” by Royal Mail.JPKos at en.wikipedia is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Someone sent it.

Part of Grammar:
Noun Noun 1;
Verb 2, intransitive & transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: scents
Past tense or past participle: scented
Gerund or present participle: scenting

Noun 3;
Verb, transitive 4

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: senses
Past tense or past participle: sensed
Gerund or present participle: sensing

Past tense and past participle of send

Verb, intransitive & transitive

Plural for the noun: senti
Third person present verb: sends
Gerund or present participle: sending

A bronze coin of the U.S., the 100th part of a U.S. dollar

Symbol: ¢

The 100th part of the monetary units of various other nations, including Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Canada, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guyana, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, New Zealand, the Seychelles, Sierra Leone, the Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uganda

  • [Informal] A small sum of money
  • [In singular with negative; informal] Used for emphasis to denote any money at all

[Music] One hundredth of a half step

A monetary unit of certain European Union countries, the 100th part of a euro

A distinctive odor, especially when agreeable

An odor left in passing, by means of which an animal or person may be traced

A track or trail as or as if indicated by such an odor


The sense of smell

Small pieces of paper dropped by the hares in the game of hare and hounds

Verb, intransitive:
To hunt by the sense of smell, as a hound

Verb, transitive:
To perceive or recognize by or as if by the sense of smell
[Usually be scented with] Impart a pleasant scent to

Discern by the sense of smell

  • Sense the presence, existence, or imminence of
  • Sniff the air
Any of the faculties, as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch, by which humans and animals perceive stimuli originating from outside or inside the body

Their operation or function

  • Sensation

A feeling or perception produced through the organs of touch, taste, etc., or resulting from a particular condition of some part of the body

A faculty or function of the mind analogous to sensation

Any special capacity for perception, estimation, appreciation, etc.

[Usually, senses] Clear and sound mental faculties

  • Sanity

Verb, transitive:
To perceive something by the senses

  • Become aware of

To grasp the meaning of

  • Understand

[Of certain mechanical devices] To detect physical phenomena, as light, temperature, radioactivity, etc., mechanically, electrically, or photoelectrically

[Computers] To read (punched holes, tape, data, etc.) mechanically, electrically, or photoelectrically

A coin of Estonia until the euro was adopted, the 100th part of a kroon


Verb, intransitive:
To dispatch a messenger, agent, message, etc.

[Electricity] To transmit a signal

Verb, transitive:
To cause, permit, or enable to go

To send a messenger

To cause to be conveyed or transmitted to a destination

To order, direct, compel, or force to go

To direct, propel, or deliver to a particular point, position, condition, or direction

To emit, discharge, or utter (usually followed by off, out, or through)

To cause to occur or befall

[Electricity] To transmit a signal

[Electricity] To transmit (an electromagnetic wave or the like) in the form of pulses

The American cent was made of steel during part of 1943.

A nickel is worth five cents.

So put your two cents in, if you’re so smart.

She saved every cent possible.

He hadn’t yet earned a cent.

Twelve-tone equal temperament divides the octave into 12 semitones of 100 cents each.

I adore the scent of roses.

The dogs lost the scent and the prisoner escaped.

The classic scents are Chanel No. 5, Joy, L’Air du Temps, Shalimar, and Miss Dior.

There was a scent in the air that revved up his appetite.

a remarkably keen scent

He’s laying a scent trail.

Verb, intransitive:
The bloodhound is scenting the trail.

Verb, transitive:
He can scent trouble.

The glass of tea was scented with lemon balm.

A shark can scent blood from well over half a mile away.

He was a commander who scented victory.

The bull advanced, scenting the breeze at every step.

My sense of smell is out of whack.

People have no idea how much they rely on their five senses.

to have a sense of cold

the moral sense

a sense of humor

Have you taken leave of your senses?

Verb, transitive:
Yes, I…I sense what you mean.

The early computers sensed the holes and their arrangement in punch cards which was interpreted as data.

the first coins of this currency were issued, nickel-bronze 25 senti pieces (Wikipedia).


Verb, intransitive:
The ship’s radio sends on a special band of frequencies.

Verb, transitive:
to send a messenger

to send a letter

The president sent troops to Asia.

to send a punch to the jaw

The punch sent the fighter reeling.

The lion sent a roar through the jungle.

The people beseeched Heaven to send peace to their war-torn village.

Adjective: nonscented, overscented, scentless
Noun: scentlessness
Verb, transitive: outscent
Adjective: half-sensed, unsensed, unsensing
Noun: sensation
Adjective: sendable
Phrasal Verb
send away for
send for
send off for
send out for something
send someone down [British]send someone off
send someone up
send something in
send something off
send something on
send something out
send something up
History of the Word:
First known use: 1325–75

Middle English from the Latin centēsimus meaning hundredth (by shortening), equivalent to centum, which stands for 100 (see hundred) + -ēsimus ordinal suffix.

First known use: 1325–75

1 Middle English, derivative of the verb Cf. sense

2 Earlier sent, Middle English senten from the Middle French sentir meaning to smell from the Latin sentīre meaning to feel.

First known use: 1350–1400

3 Middle English from the Latin sēnsus meaning sensation, feeling, understanding, and equivalent to sentīre meaning to feel + -tus suffix of verb action

4 Derivative of the noun

First known use: before 900

Middle English senden, Old English sendan.

It relates to the German senden, Gothic sandjan (causative) from the Germanic base *sinth-, *santh- meaning go, whence Old English sīth meaning journey, sand meaning message, messenger.

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:

Packing and Crating” by Airman 1st Class Alystria Maurer is in the public domain; “Neus1” is LHOON’s own work and “Canadian Coins” By Morgan (Flickr: 069.365 – March 10, 2010 (356 (Y2)) are both under the CC BY 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons; and, DKNY Golden Delicious perfume.