Word Confusion: Rappel versus Repel

Posted November 9, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

A friend of a friend’s editor told her that they wouldn’t be making any more passes through her to-be-published book…and then her friend told her that, um, one doesn’t repel down the mountainside.

I gotta tell ya, I’m worried about this trend I’m seeing from publishing houses who aren’t employing proofreaders (or some editors) who have a clue. I should think a proofreader should have at least a general knowledge of a variety of the roles life can throw at you. I hate sports, and that certainly includes rock climbing, etc., so how is that even I know that one, ahem, rappels!

It just repels me that there is such a lack of professionalism out there…

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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Rappel Repel
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Oxford Dictionaries: rappel; Dictionary.com: repel

Soldiers leap out of helicopter using ropes

“USAF Combat Control Teams Rappel from Helicopter” by SSGT Ernest H. Sealing is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Metal shavings repelled due to magnets

“Magnetic Field of Bar Magnets Repel” by Alexander Wilmer Duff is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Part of Grammar:
Noun; Verb, intransitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: rappels
Past tense or past participle: rappelled
Gerund or present participle: rappelling

Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: repels
Past tense or past participle: repelled
Gerund or present participle: repelling

A descent made by rappelling

Verb, intransitive:
Descend a rock face or other near-vertical surface by using a doubled rope coiled around the body and fixed at a higher point

Verb, intransitive:
Drive or force (an attack or attacker) back or away

  • [Of a magnetic pole or electric field] Force (something similarly magnetized or charged) away from itself

To cause distaste or aversion

Verb, transitive:
Drive or force (an attack, onslaught, or attacker) back or away

  • [Of a magnetic pole or electric field) Force (something similarly magnetized or charged) away from itself
  • [Of a substance] Resist mixing with or be impervious to another substance

Be repulsive or distasteful to

[Formal] Refuse to accept something, especially an argument or theory

To thrust back or away

To keep off or out

  • Fail to mix with

To resist the absorption or passage of (water or other liquid)

To refuse to have to do with

  • Resist involvement in

To refuse to accept or admit

  • Reject
They were careful in setting up the rappel.

This classic objective adds multi-pitch rock climbing and a thrilling 150-foot rappel to your bag of tricks.

Team Fred had just finished the rappel at Bridal Veil Falls.

With suspended walkways and observation platforms high in the treetops, and rappels down some of the biggest, tallest trees in the world, the views are breathtaking.

Archie describes the rappel itself as “fabulous from beginning to end”, but he admits to some healthy trepidation.

With a nod from an instructor, I began the rappel down the ground floor 210 feet below.

Verb, intransitive:
They had to rappel down a long steep ice face.

She rappelled down the rock face.

Despite losing her shoe, Katie Long, 11, rappels down a vertical 50-foot wall.

The lives of climbers often hinge on their strength as they dangle from ropes hundreds of feet in the air, rappelling to the safety of the solid ground below.

Minutes later, she rappelled to the ground and was embraced by friends.

Rick and Derek rappelled down to the ledge, pulled the ropes, set up the next rappel, and started down again.

Verb, intransitive:
Like poles repel and unlike poles attract.

Verb, transitive:
Government units sought to repel the rebels.

Electrically charged objects attract or repel one another.

Get yourself some boots with good-quality leather uppers to repel moisture.

She was repelled by the permanent smell of drink on his breath.

The alleged right of lien led by the bankrupt’s attorney was repelled.

Water and oil repel each other.

I must, I simply must repel temptation.

He had no choice but to repel her suggestion.

Adjective: repellant, repellent
Adverb: repellingly
Noun: nonrepellence, repellant, repellence, repellency, repellent, repeller, repellingness
History of the Word:
1930s from the French, literally meaning a recalling, which is from rappeler in the sense of bring back to oneself (with reference to that rope maneuver). Late Middle English from the Latin repellere, is from re- (back) + pellere (to drive).

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:

172nd Slovenian Mountain Training is courtesy of U.S. Army Europe from Wiesbaden, Germany, and is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

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