Word Confusion: Rung versus Wrung

Posted November 16, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

When the character stepped on the wrong wrung, I, well, my eyes rolled. Again. My ophthalmologist says I gotta stop doing that; I’ll have wrung my eyes out before I’m 105 if I keep on with it.

Well, you’d have rung my chimes iffen you could’ve wrung a ladder. I’d’a said no way, no how. Oh, well, maybe you can. I don’t see why you’d want to. I mean, if that ladder was so pliable that you could have wrung a ladder, I can’t imagine it was all that stable to go up on in the first place.

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.

Rung Wrung
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

A very, very tall ladder leaning against a cliff face

The image is SOIR’s own work under [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Those are a lot of rungs to climb!

Kids standing in a pool and wringing out clothing

This image by SSG Theanne Tangen is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I reckon the kids have those clothes all wrung out by now.

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

Past participle of ring 2

Verb, transitive

Past tense or past participle of wring

A horizontal support on a ladder for a person’s foot

  • A level in a hierarchical structure, especially a class or career structure

A strengthening crosspiece in the structure of a chair 2

Verb, intransitive:
Make a clear resonant or vibrating sound

  • [Of a telephone] Produce a series of resonant or vibrating sounds to signal an incoming call
  • A call for service or attention by sounding a bell

[Ring with/to; of a place] Resound or reverberate with (a sound or sounds)

  • [With complement] Convey a specified impression or quality

[Chiefly British] Call by telephone

Verb, transitive:
Cause a bell or alarm to ring

Sound (the hour, a peal, etc., on a bell or bells

[Chiefly British] Call by telephone

Squeeze and twist something to force liquid from it

  • Extract liquid by squeezing and twisting something
  • Break an animal’s neck by twisting it forcibly
  • Squeeze someone’s hand tightly, especially with sincere emotion
  • Obtain something with difficulty or effort
  • Cause pain or distress to
Be careful, honey, there’s a loose rung on that ladder.

We must ensure that the unskilled do not get trapped on the bottom rung.

I watched a program in which an artisan created, by hand, the rungs for a ladder.

Johnny, I’ve told you not to stand on that rung. Now you’ve broken it.

Verb, intransitive:
Had a shot rung out?

A church bell had rung loudly.

The phone had rung again, even as I replaced it.

Ruth, have you rung for some tea?

The room had rung with laughter only hours ago.

My eardrums had rung with all the yelling going on.

It was a clever retort which had rung with contempt.

The author’s honesty had rung true.

I had rung several times, but the lines to Moscow were engaged.

Verb, transitive:
He had walked up to the door and had rung the bell before I could get down the stairs.

The bells had rung the hour, and I was late again.

I had rung her just this morning.

Harriet had rung Dorothy up the previous day.

She had wrung the cloth out in the sink.

I wrung out the excess water from my bathing suit and hung it up to dry.

Have you wrung that chicken’s neck, yet?

She was so scared that she wrung my hand into pulp.

A few concessions were wrung from the government.

The letter must have wrung her heart.

Adjective: runged, rungless
History of the Word:
1 Old English hrung is related to the Dutch rong and the German Runge.

2 Old English hringan is of Germanic origin, perhaps imitative.

The verb form of the Old English wringan is related to the Dutch wringen.

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