Word Confusion: Billed versus Build

Posted May 9, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 16 February 2018

I’m guessing that the author had been doing some renovating and had gotten billed for some construction work. It could by why the accountant character build a client. Well, it’s the best excuse I can come up with otherwise there’s no earthly reason why someone would confuse billed with build.

Or maybe a hooker with a great build who billed her client?

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.

Billed Build
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: build

Portrait of Ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis) in winter plumage, Windsor, Ontario, 2014-12-07

“Portrait of a Ring-Billed Gull” is Crisco 1492’s own work under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.

Construction site with a concrete building against a forest of birch trees in the background

“Fissile Material Storage Facility” by Carl Anderson of the US Army Corps of Engineers (VIRIN ZZZZ9999) is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

A storage facility build in Russia.

Part of Grammar:
Past tense or a past participle for bill

Adjective; Verb, transitive

Third person present verb: bills
Gerund or present participle: billing

Noun 1; Verb 4, intransitive & transitive

Plural for noun and third person present verb: builds
Past tense or past participle: built (builded is archaic)
Gerund or present participle: building

[Ornithology] Having a bill or beak, especially one of a specified kind, shape, color, etc.(usually used in combination)

Verb, transitive:
Usually be billed

List a person or event in a program

  • [Bill someone/something as] Describe someone or something in a particular, usually promotional, way, especially as a means of advertisement

Send a note of charges to (someone)

  • Charge a sum of money
The dimensions or proportions of a person’s or animal’s body

  • The style or form of construction of something
  • [Slang] One’s physique, especially one’s figure or shape 2
  • [Slang] bod
  • [Slang] A show whose earnings continue to increase 3

[Computing] A compiled version of a program

  • The process of compiling a program
  • A version of a program after compilation, typically an update to an existing version made before the program is released
  • A new version or update of data in a database or on a website

[Masonry] A vertical joint

  • The vertical dimension of a stone laid on its bed

Verb, intransitive:
To be a builder by profession

To make, construct, or form by joining parts or materials

  • To engage in the art, practice, or business of building

[Build on] Use as a basis for further progress or development

  • Increase the size, intensity, or extent of
  • To form or construct a plan, system of thought, etc., (usually followed by on or upon)
  • To increase or develop toward a maximum, as of intensity, tempo, or magnitude (often followed by up)

Verb, transitive:
To order the building of

Construct (something, typically something large or complex) by putting parts or material together over a period of time

  • Commission, finance, and oversee the building of something
  • [Build something in/into] Incorporate (something) and make it a permanent part of a structure, system, or situation
  • To establish, increase, or strengthen (often followed by up)
  • [Computing] Compile (a program, database, index, etc.)
  • Establish and develop (a business, relationship, or situation) over a period of time
  • To mold, form, or create

To base


[Games] To make (words) from letters

  • To assemble (cards) according to number, suit, etc., as in melding
We saw a a yellow-billed magpie yesterday morning.

long-billed curlew
curve-billed thrasher
shoe-billed stork

Verb, transitive:
They were billed to appear but didn’t show up.

He was billed as “the new Sean Connery”.

We shall be billing them for the damage caused.

He had been billed $3,000 for his license.

We billed her $400,000.

She was of medium height and slim build.

He has the ideal build for a sprinter.

The revue was a build once word-of-mouth took hold.

Whoa, she has one sexy build.

The house was of modern build.

It’s best to do frequent, incremental builds of data.

He said he’d finish the build tomorrow.

Verb, intransitive:
The air of excited anticipation builds.

He likes to build houses, the more compact, the better.

The nation should build on the talents of its workforce.

We will build up confidence in our abilities through the team exercises.

He can build on the philosophies of the past.

The drama builds steadily toward a climax.

Build a fire under him. That’ll get him moving.

Verb, transitive:
The government builds most of our hospitals.

We can build the factory next year.

The city council plans to build a bridge.

Engineers want to build in extra traction.

We’ll build up the business with our own two hands.

I hate to build up your hopes, if you don’t pass this exam.

We’re here to build boys into men.

I want a relationship to build on trust.

You only get eight tiles to build your word.

Adjective: billable, unbilled
Noun: bill, biller, bills, billing
Verb: billed, billing
Adjective: buildable
Verb: misbuild, misbuilt, misbuilding; outbuild, outbuilt, outbuilding; prebuild, prebuilt, prebuilding; superbuild, superbuilt, superbuilding
History of the Word:
Middle English denoting a written list or catalog is from the Anglo-Norman French bille, probably based on the medieval Latin bulla meaning seal or sealed document. 1 Early 14th century, a building.

1610s, was built.

1660s, it became a style of construction from the verb, build.

2 1850s, a husky or sexy build.

3 1950s+, theater.

4 Late Old English byldan meaning construct a house. A verb form of bold meaning house is from the Proto-Germanic *buthlam (compare to the Old Saxon bodl, Old Frisian bodel meaning building, house), from Proto-Indo-European *bhu- meaning to dwell, from the root *bheue- meaning to be, exist, grow.

Rare in Old English; in Middle English build won out over the more common Old English timbran (timber).

After the late 16th century, build was used to refer to physical things other than buildings.

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

Pinterest Photo Credits

This long-billed Dowitcher, Limnodromus scolopaceus, is Basar’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL licenses, and this Woodward Wight 1922 Invoice from Woodward, Wight, & Company is in the public domain; both are via Wikimedia Commons.

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