Word Confusion: Right vs Rite vs Wright vs Write

Posted January 22, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 7 October 2017

While it’s fun to get a slew of confused words, it does constrict the display quite a bit. That said, its a lovely range of words with such a wealth of meanings.

Might makes right is one of the myriad of possibilities with right along with keep to the right, I’m right-handed, and it’s the right thing to do are just getting started.

I suppose you could say do the rite thing, but it seems a bit irreverent considering that a rite is usually considered a sacred ritual.

Do the wright thing has something of a modern twist to it, and is a bit of a conundrum when you realize that it’s an archaic job title for someone who creates. Hmmm, penwright, perhaps?

Write is similar to right in that they’re both words that are heavily used in our contemporary world. Lord knows there are plenty of websites that talk about writing. How to get out of the doldrums; write outlines or broad sketches of the story or characters; how to write persuasively; how to write blogs, book descriptions, and biographies; and, on and on and on…

As you can see from the images and the definitions, each is distinct. A world unto itself. And such a rich one…

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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Right Rite Wright Write
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Motocross rider heading right

“Motocross in Yteri”, 2010, is Kallerna’s own work under the CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL license, via Wikimedia Commons

Motocross rider heading right.


“Catholic Priest Holding the Holy Mass” is Patnac’s own work under the GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Performing Mass is a Roman Catholic rite.

Wheelwright in his shop

“Wheelwright” is courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg

Williamsburg’s Deane Shop has practicing wheelwrights who demonstrate how wheels were made in colonial days.

Man writing in a journal

“Davide Sapienza with Pen and Paper” by Andrea Aschedamini is under the CC-BY-SA-3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Davide Sapienza, Italian writer and translator, appears to write in a journal.

Part of Grammar:
Adjective 1; Adverb 2; Exclamation; Noun 1; Verb, intransitive & transitive 3

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: rights
Past tense or past participle: righted
Gerund or present participle: righting

Plural for the noun: rites
Noun, archaic
Plural for the noun: wrights
Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: writes
Past tense: wrote
Past participle: written
Gerund or present participle: writing

Morally good, justified, or acceptable

True or correct as a fact

Correct in one’s opinion or judgment

  • Used as an interrogative at the end of a statement as a way of inviting agreement, approval, or confirmation
  • Socially fashionable or important
  • In a satisfactory, sound, or normal state or condition

Denoting or worn on the side of a person’s body which is toward the east when they are facing north
[Informal; chiefly British] Complete

Absolute (used for emphasis, typically in derogatory contexts)

Of or relating to a person or political party or grouping favoring conservative views

[With prepositional phrase] To the furthest or most complete extent or degree (used for emphasis)

  • Exactly
  • Directly (used to emphasize the precise location or time of something)
  • [Informal] Immediately
  • Without delaying or hesitating
  • [Dialect or archaic, as submodifier] Very


  • In the required or necessary way
  • Properly
  • Satisfactorily

On or to the right side

[Informal] used to indicate one’s agreement with a suggestion or to acknowledge a statement or order

  • Used as a filler in speech or as a way of confirming that someone is listening to or understanding what one is saying
  • Used to introduce an utterance, exhortation, or suggestion

That which is morally correct, just, or honorable
A moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way

  • [Rights] The authority to perform, publish, film, or televise a particular work, event, etc.

[The right] The right-hand part, side, or direction

[Often the Right; may be treated as singular or plural] A grouping or political party favoring conservative views and supporting capitalist economic principles

Verb, intransitive:
To resume an upright or the proper position

Verb, transitive:
Restore to a normal or upright position

  • Restore to a normal or correct condition or situation
  • To put in proper order, condition, or relationship
  • Redress or rectify a wrong or mistaken action
    • To bring into conformity with fact
    • Correct
    • To do justice to
    • Avenge
  • [Archaic; usually be righted] Make reparation to someone for a wrong done to them
A religious or other solemn ceremony or act A maker or builder Verb, intransitive:
Mark letters, words, or other symbols on a surface, typically paper, with a pen, pencil, or similar implement

Compose, write, and send (a letter) to someone

Put into literary form and set down in writing

Verb, transitive:
Mark letters, words, or other symbols on a surface, typically paper, with a pen, pencil, or similar implement

  • Compose (a musical work)
  • Write someone into/out of, add or remove a character to or from (a long-running story or series)
  • Archaic] Describe in writing

[Computing] Enter data into a specified storage medium or location in store

Underwrite (an insurance policy)

I hope we’re doing the right thing.

You were quite right to criticize him.

She was right about Tom having no money.

You went to see Angie on Monday, right?

Is this the right way to the cottage?

You’re not holding it the right way up.

He was clearly the right man for the job.

He was seen at all the right places.

That sausage doesn’t smell right.

If only I could have helped put matters right.

I hurt my right elbow

It’s over there by the right edge of the field.

I felt a right idiot.

Are you politically right, left, or center?

The car spun right off the track.

I’m right out of ideas.

Harriet was standing right behind her.

I’ll be right back.

It’s right spooky in there!

He had guessed right.

Nothing’s going right for me this season.

Turn right at Main Street.

“Oh, right.”

“Right you are, sir.”

And I didn’t think any more of it, right, but Mom said I should take him to a doctor.

Right, let’s have a drink.

She doesn’t understand the difference between right and wrong.

She had every right to be angry.

You’re quite within your rights to ask for your money back.

There is no right of appeal against the decision.

They sold the paperback rights.

Take the first turning on the right.

She seated me on her right.

The young cop swung a terrific right.

Verb, intransitive:
After the wave passed, the boat righted.

Verb, transitive:
We righted the capsized dinghy.

Righting the economy demanded major cuts in defense spending.

She was determined to right the wrongs done to her father.

We’ll see you righted.

The room was a mess, and John righted a fallen lamp while Helen righted a rumpled rug.

It was the rite of communion

The Obando Fertility Rites are a dance ritual and Catholic festival celebrated every May.

The Byzantine rite is the liturgical rite used by the Eastern Orthodox Church and certain Eastern Catholic Churches.

The family Christmas rite is to eat ludefisk and lefsa on Christmas and then go to Midnight Mass.

It was a rite of passage in Hamish’s family, and he couldn’t let his father down.

We’ll have to get the wheels fixed by a wheelwright.

Shakespeare is a famous playwright.

The Pett Dynasty was a family of shipwrights who prospered in England between the 15th and 17th centuries (Wikipedia.com)

And, of course, we really should mention the Wright brothers.

Verb, intransitive:
He wrote very neatly in blue ink.

He couldn’t read or write.

He had to write a check for $800.

He wrote almost every day.

He wrote under a pseudonym.

He had written about the beauty of Andalucia.

Verb, transitive:
He wrote his name on the paper.

Alice, will you write down the address.

I can write a letter to Alison.

I will write him a short letter.

Mother wrote me and told me about poor Simon’s death.

Write in with your query, and we’ll do our best to answer it.

I didn’t know you wrote poetry.

He has written a song specifically for her.

If I could write to the beauty of your eyes.

Adjective: half-right, rightable, righteous, righter, rightest, rightful, unrightable, unrighted

Noun: half-right, righteous
Adjective: riteless
Noun: ritelessness
Adjective: writable
Noun: writer, writing
Verb: [Archaic] writ
Phrasal Verb
write something down
write someone in
write something off
write something up
History of the Word:
Old English riht 1, rihte
2, rihtan
3, of Germanic origin

Related to Latin rectus meaning ruled, from an Indo-European root denoting movement in a straight line.

Middle English from the Latin ritus meaning (religious) usage. Old English wryhta or wyrhta and is related to work. Old English wrītan meaning score or form (letters) by carving, write is of Germanic origin.

It is related to the German reissen meaning sketch, drag.

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

Pinterest Photo Credits

Writing Letter by Kusakabe Kimbei is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.