Word Confusion: Aerie vs Airy vs Eerie

Posted June 29, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

As heterographs, all three words sound alike but are spelled differently…oh. You noticed that? Okay, so before I get all airy up here in my aerie and get too eerie on ya…

…instead, we’ll fly into this post on Aerie vs Airy vs Eerie, and when you get up to your aerie, you may find it a bit airy…and don’t even think of looking down lest it get eerie when you see how high you are from the ground. Yeah, well, I suspect your significant other told ya not to build so high, lol.

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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Aerie Airy Eerie
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: aerie and airy

A Bald Eagle  and its nest in a Grand Fir Abies grandis, near the Nicomekl River.

“The Eagle’s Nest” is The High Fin Sperm Whale’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL license, via Wikimedia Commons

This eagle has its nest high in a grand fir tree.

A white ray-like globe of a flower amidst big green leaves

“Fothergilla Major 2” by Kurt Stüber [1] is under the GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 licenses, via Wikimedia Commons

This fothergilla is quite airy looking.

Ghouls dressed in robes, chains, and blood for Halloween

“Scary Halloween Costumes 2011” Anthony22 at en.wikipedia under the CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL licenses, via Wikimedia Commons

I don’t know about you, but I find these people…eerie!

Part of Grammar:
Plural for noun: aeries, eyries

Alternative spelling: aery, eyrie, eyry

Adjective Adjective
A large nest of a bird of prey, especially an eagle, typically built high in a tree or on a cliff

  • A lofty nest of any large bird
  • A house, fortress, or the like, located high on a hill or mountain
  • An apartment or office on a high floor in a high-rise building
  • A penthouse with a spectacular view

[Obsolete] The brood in a nest, especially of a bird of prey

[Of a room or building] Spacious, well lit, and well ventilated

  • Delicate, as though filled with or made of air
    • Immaterial
  • Giving an impression of light gracefulness and elegance

Giving an impression of being unconcerned or not serious, typically about something taken seriously by others

Light in appearance

  • Thin

Light in manner

  • Sprightly
  • Lively

Light in movement

  • Graceful
  • Delicate

Light as air

  • Unsubstantial
  • Unreal
  • Imaginary


  • Speculative

Performed in the air

  • Aerial


  • High in the air

Putting on airs

  • Affected
  • Snobbish
Strange and frightening

Uncanny, so as to inspire superstitious fear

  • Weird
  • Ghostly

[Especially of places, an atmosphere, etc.] Mysteriously or uncannily frightening or disturbing

[Chiefly Scottish] Affected with superstitious fear

Why is it so many evil villains build an aerie high up in the mountains?

I love living at the very top of the building in my very own aerie.

Tell me again why Eric felt the need to build his aerie at the top of the mountain?

I love the windows and how airy it makes the room feel.

The sky is so beautiful, filled with airy clouds.

Her airy presence filled the house.

She has such an airy unconcern for economy.

Chiffon makes for such airy garments.

She trained as a ballerina, hence that airy step.

“Her and her airy-fairy dreams,” he said with a shrug.

However did you get this cake to be so airy!

She acted like some airy debutante posing for society photographers.

Did you see that eerie green glow in the sky?

Whoa, that movie was eerie!

I swear, Darryl. It was an eerie howl outside my window!

This place is too eerie for me. I’m outta here!

Adjective: airier, airiest, airy-fairy
Noun: airiness
Adjective: eerier, eeriest
Adverb; eerily
Noun: eeriness
History of the Word:
Late 15th century: from the medieval Latin aeria, aerea, eyria, which is probably from the Old French aire, from the Latin area meaning level piece of ground, in late Latin, nest of a bird of prey. Middle English, 1350-1400, ayery. Middle English (originally northern English and Scots in the sense of fearful) and is probably from Old English earg meaning cowardly, and is of Germanic origin; related to the German arg.

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:

The Road to Neverland“, 2007, is Sigurdas’ own work under the CC BY 2.0 license, while “S344 Golden Durga Idol” by Mukerjee at English Wikipedia is in the public domain; both are via Wikimedia Commons.