Word Confusion: Rot versus Wrought

Posted October 19, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 8 October 2017

I know, how could anyone possibly mistake these two? The number of letters alone should tell ya somethin’.

I gotta wonder if the writer with the rot iron ever experienced root rot or knows anything about wrought iron?

Of course, I suppose he could be talking about iron that’s rusting. That could be considered a rot. One could also be wrought up over a plant that’s suffering root rot. Oh, wait…it was rot iron he was talkin’ about. I dunno. The best interpretation I can come up with is that rotting, er, rusting iron…

Consider the following:
She’s rot.

Hmmm, sounds like she’s a nasty person.

She’s wrought.

She’s one upset lady.

I love rot…

Ewww, the stench of it, the squishiness!

I love wrought…

Hmmm, wrought iron in those flowing curlicues or being worked up into a state?

I have rot.

Damn, that’s a shame. Any chance you can change out the soil in the pot?

I have wrought.

Cool. What did you make?

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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Rot Wrought
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Merriam-Webster: wrought

Crumbling remains of wood next to a yellow tape measure.

“Dry Rot Caused by Serpula lacrymans” is Mätes II’s own work under the GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

An elaborate wrought iron grille.

“Volders-Charles Church” is WOKRIE’s own work under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

This wrought iron grille was created in 1862 by Oswald Kayser and can be found in St. Karl Church in Volders in the Tyrol, Austria.

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

Plural for the noun: rot
Third person present verb: rots
Past tense or past participle: rotted
Gerund or present participle: rotting

Past tense or past participle of work

Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: N/A
Past tense or past participle: N/A
Gerund or present participle: N/A

The process of decaying

  • Rotten or decayed matter
  • [The rot] A process of deterioration
  • A decline in standards
  • [Usually with modifier] Any of a number of fungal or bacterial diseases that cause tissue deterioration, especially in plants

[Informal] Nonsense

[Informal] Rubbish

Verb, intransitive:
[Chiefly of animal or vegetable matter] Decay or cause to decay by the action of bacteria and fungi


To become unsound or weak (as from use or chemical action)

  • To go to ruin
  • To become morally corrupt

Verb, transitive:
[Chiefly of animal or vegetable matter] Decay or cause to decay by the action of bacteria and fungi


  • Gradually deteriorate through lack of attention or opportunity
[Of metals] Beaten out or shaped by hammering

  • Worked into shape by artistry or effort

Elaborately embellished

Processed for use

Deeply stirred

Keep in mind that wrought is archaic and a past tense and past participle of WORKED

Verb, intransitive:
Moved or caused to move gradually or with difficulty into another position, typically by means of constant movement or pressure

Verb, transitive:
Been engaged in physical or mental activity in order to achieve a purpose or result, especially in one’s job

  • Did work
  • Was employed, typically in a specified occupation or field
  • [Had worked in; of an artist] Produced articles or pictures using (a particular material or medium)
  • Produced an article or design using a specified material or sewing stitch
  • Had set to or keep at work
  • Cultivated (land) or extract materials from (a mine or quarry)
  • Solved a puzzle or mathematical problem
  • Practiced one’s occupation or operate in or at (a particular place)
  • Made efforts to achieve something
    • Campaigned

[Of a machine or system] Operated or functioned, especially properly or effectively

  • [Of a machine or a part of it] Ran
    • Went through regular motions
  • [Especially of a person’s features] Moved violently or convulsively
  • Caused a device or machine) to operate
  • [Of a plan or method] Had the desired result or effect
  • Brought about
    • Produced as a result
  • [Informal] Arranged or contrived
  • [Worked on/upon] Exerted influence or used one’s persuasive power on (someone or their feelings)
  • Used one’s persuasive power to stir the emotions of (a person or group of people)

Brought a material or mixture to a desired shape or consistency by hammering, kneading, or some other method

  • Brought into a specified state, especially an emotional state

Moved or caused to move gradually or with difficulty into another position, typically by means of constant movement or pressure

  • [Of joints, such as those in a wooden ship] Loosened and flexed under repeated stress
  • [Sailing] Made progress to windward, after repeated tacking
The leaves were turning black with rot.

She was busy cutting the rot from the potatoes.

That’s a lot of rot!

It was when they moved back to the family home that the rot set in.

You’ve been overwatering again. This plant has root rot.

Heart rot causes decay in a tree’s heartwood.

Don’t talk rot.

Verb, intransitive:
The chalets were neglected and their woodwork was rotting away.

Verb, transitive:
Caries sets in at a weak point and spreads to rot the whole tooth.

He cannot understand the way the education system has been allowed to rot.

New Orleans is known for its delicate-looking wrought iron balconies.

“Whosoever shall bring into this realm any wrought silk to be sold, concerning the mystery of silk-workers, shall forfeit the fame…” (Great Britain).

It was a carefully wrought essay.

I love all the curlicues in that wrought iron gate!

Verb, intransitive:
Its bases had wrought loose.

Peter had been much wrought upon.

Wrought with fear, Helen stepped cautiously onto the bridge.

Her nose had been wrought with much grace.

Verb, transitive:
She had combed from tip to root to wrought out the knots at the end.

The boys wrought havoc in the workplace.

She was obviously wrought over something.

I tell thee, I despise her when she is so wrought with emotion.

Adjective: rotten Adjective: wrought up, wroughted
Noun: wrought iron
History of the Word:
1 First known use: 14th century from the Middle English and may have come via Scandinavia

2 First known use: before 12th century from the Middle English roten, from Old English rotian is akin to Old High German rōzzēn meaning to rot and related to the Dutch rotten.

First known use: 13th century

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

Pinterest Photo Credits

Wrought Nails, 17th Century is Hubertl’s and Abbaye de Saint-Denis – South Wing is Jacques MOSSOT’s own works. Both are under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.