Word Confusion: Verses vs Versus vs Vs.

Posted March 2, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 12 October 2017

Another easy word confusion, which begs the question: how does anyone screw this one up? If you’ve been relying upon spellcheck, that’s one answer. Spellcheck only verifies that a word is spelled correctly, not if it’s contextually correct. The other answers are either a mistype or not knowing the difference. This last is why I do the word confusions…*grin…

Verses is poetry turned into a music whether it be set to musical notes and sung or merely spoken or read.

Versus is much more adversarial. It’s us versus them, dog versus cat, classical versus hip hop, terrorist versus the rest of us… And no, that is not a judgment.

As for vs., it’s an abbreviation of versus.

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. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Verses Versus Vs.
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; The Free Dictionary.com: verse; AZ Dictionary: versify

This limerick of verses is courtesy of Web Exhibits‘ Poetry through the Ages.

A watercolor sketch, circa 1874 to 1880

“Cavalry versus Infantry” by H. Bullock Webster is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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

Singular for the noun: verse
Third person present verb: verses
Past tense or past participle: versed
Gerund or present participle: versing

Preposition Abbreviation for versus

Also, v.


Of, relating to, or written in verse

Writing arranged with a metrical rhythm, typically having a rhyme

  • A group of lines that form a unit in a poem or song
    • [Elizabethan verse] Poetry, versification, poetic form
    • Poems, balladry, ditty, doggerel, lay, limerick, lines, lyrics, ode, rhyme, sonnet
    • [Poem with 60 verses] Stanza, canto, couplet
    • Strophe
  • Each of the short numbered divisions of a chapter in the Bible or other scripture
  • A versicle
  • [Archaic] A line of poetry
  • A passage in an anthem for a soloist or a small group of voices
  • [Pop music, contemporary] Section of a song that changes lyrics, as opposed to the chorus which stays the same
  • [Pop music, classic] Prologue, considered optional, with the refrain the body of the song

[Literary] Poesy (yes, it’s a real word)

Verb, intransitive:
[Archaic] Speak in or compose verse

[Archaic] Versify

To versify or engage in versifying

Verb, transitive:
To express in verse

To familiarize by study or experience

[Slang] To play against (an opponent) in a competition

Against, facing, confronting (especially in sports and legal use)

As opposed to, in contrast with

  • As opposed to
  • In contrast to
He has a thing for verse plays.

“A verse for my lady,” he cried.

He’d composed a sweet ballad of verses to woo his bride.

It was a lament in verse.

Oh, not another verse drama.

The second verse was worst than than the first.

Verb, intransitive:
It doesn’t take genius to versify a literal translation.

She also inspires poets to versify pointless incidents from their everyday lives.

A litany of lies he will versify with reverences for God and the flag and democracy, when just what he and his party are doing to our democracy is choking the life out of it.

Verb, transitive:
He versed himself in philosophy.

He gonna verse me in Mario Brothers.

It’s Boston verse Chicago.

It’s an examination of self-interest versus self-sacrifice.

It’s a tricky decision, deciding when to use up on versus upon in a sentence.
She’s in the kitchen weighing the pros and cons of organic versus inorganic produce.

man vs. wild

book vs. television

pen vs. computer

Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran

[Legal cases] Roe v. Wade

Combined Form: -verse
Noun : underverse, verselet
History of the Word:
1 Old English fers, from the Latin versus meaning a turn of the plow, a furrow, a line of writing, from vertere meaning to turn; reinforced in Middle English by the Old French vers, also from the Latin versus. Late Middle English from a medieval Latin use of the Latin versus meaning toward.

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:

A contrast of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey with the Bible.