Word Confusion: Jewel versus Joule

Posted May 18, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions

Revised as of 18 February 2018

Can you imagine a jewel that could absorb joules of energy? Sounds like something out of James Bond or a science fiction fantasy, doesn’t it?

No, this wasn’t a word confusion that came up in my reading. Instead it arose from a consult on a project on which I was working which involved energy. When he first mentioned joule, my first thought was jewel…hey, I’m a girl…of course I’m thinking jewelry! But then my mind clicked over to those other necessary joules.

This Word Confusion pair is an heterograph, as both words sound alike.

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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Jewel Joule
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: jewel and joule

Elizabeth Taylor's ruby and diamond ring

“Elizabeth Taylor’s ‘Perfect’ Ruby Is an Auction Record-Breaker; Was a Christmas Gift From Richard Burton in 1968” courtesy of The Jeweler Blog.

Yep, that’s a gem of a jewel all right.

Short animated gif of a light bulb turning on and off

“Carbon Filament” is Ulfbastel’s own work under the GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.

It takes one joule to light up this lightbulb for this long.

Part of Grammar:
Noun; Verb, transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: jewels
Past tense or past participle: jeweled, jewelled [British] Gerund or present participle: jeweling, jewelling [British]

Plural for noun: joules

A.k.a., newton-meter

A precious stone, typically a single crystal or a piece of a hard lustrous or translucent mineral, cut into shape with flat facets or smoothed and polished for use as an ornament

  • Gem
  • [Usually jewels] A fashioned ornament for personal adornment, especially of a precious metal set with gems
  • A durable bearing used in fine timepieces and other delicate instruments, made of natural or synthetic precious stone or other very hard material
  • A very pleasing, esteemed, indispensable, or valued person or thing
  • A very fine example

An ornamental boss of glass, sometimes cut with facets, in stained-glass work

Something resembling a jewel in appearance, ornamental effect, or the like, as a star

Proper Noun:
A given name for a female

Verb, transitive:
To set or adorn with jewels

[Physics] The International System of Units (SI) unit of work or energy, equal to the work done by a force of one newton when its point of application moves one meter in the direction of action of the force, equivalent to one 3600th of a watt-hour
The crown jewels are an incredible sight.

Elizabeth Taylor was known for her jewels, amongst other of her attributes.

Helene has the most gaudy taste in jewels.

Tolerance is the brightest jewel in the crown of our civilization.

She was a jewel of a nurse.

Tim’s thesis paper was an absolute jewel.

Proper Noun:
Have you met Jewel yet? Arthur’s wife?

Verb, transitive:
Using the BeDazzler, Amy jeweled that denim jacket in just a few hours.

The designer is jeweling the dress now.

One kilowatt hour is equal to 3.6 megajoules.

One joule is the amount of electricity required to light a one-watt LED for one second.

Joule’s work in heat energy, in conjunction with William Thomson’s, led to the development of the refrigerator and to the science of cryogenics.

“In a pure-oxygen environment, 16.7 million joules will be released for every kilogram of sugar used, releasing the explosive force of eight sticks of dynamite.” – The Martian

“Crunching the numbers gives an energy of about 90 joules per second — or 90 watts, if you could harvest it at 100 percent efficiency.” – Forbes, 26 Jan 2015

“For every 10 joules of energy that our greenhouse gas pollution traps here on Earth, about 9 of them end up in an ocean.” – Scientific American, 29 Dec 2014

“Notice that energy in newton meters can be rewritten as joules, but torque in newton meters cannot.” – Forbes, 11 Nov 2014

Adjective: jeweled, jewellike, unjeweled, unjewelled
Noun: jeweler, jewelry
Abbreviation: J, j
History of the Word:
Middle English from the Old French joel, from jeu meaning game, play, which is from the Latin jocus meaning jest. 1882 and named after Dr. James Prescott Joule, a British physicist who established that all forms of energy were basically the same and interchangeable — the first law of thermodynamics.

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:

Necklace Joule Thief by Modarius is courtesy of Instructables.com.

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