Word Confusion: In versus Inn

Posted December 11, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

It seemed appropriate for the Christmas season to explore this pair of heterograhs, in versus inn, what with Joseph and Mary unable to get in to the inn before she gives birth.

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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In Inn
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: in and inn

Two cabins buried almost to the roof point in snow with more flakes drifting down

“Snow Day!!” by darkmoon1968 under the CC0-1.0 license, via Pixabay

A light shines within each cabin buried in the snow.

Three-story Dickens Inn festooned with hanging baskets of flowers on every level

“Dickens Inn” by Macboppo is under the CC-0-1.0 license, via Pixabay

Part of Grammar:
Abbreviation; Adjective 1; Adverb 1; Noun; Prefix 2 and 3; Preposition 1; Suffix; Verb, transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: ins
Past tense or past participle: inned
Gerund or present participle: inning

Plural for noun: inns
[Post office] Official abbreviation for the state of Indiana

[Chemistry] The chemical element indium

[Predic.; of a person] Present at one’s home or office

[Informal] Fashionable

  • In favor with advanced or sophisticated people
  • Stylish


  • Included in a favored group

[Predic.; of the ball in tennis and similar games] Landing within the designated playing area

Located or situated within

  • Inner
  • Internal


  • Incoming
  • Inbound


  • Available

Being in power, authority, control, etc.

[Golf; as opposed to out] Laying the last nine holes of an eighteen-hole golf course

Expressing movement with the result that someone or something becomes enclosed or surrounded by something else

Expressing the situation of being enclosed or surrounded by something

Expressing arrival at a destination

[Of the tide] Rising or at its highest level

[Baseball; of an infielder or outfielder] Playing closer to home plate than usual

  • [Of a pitch] Very close to the batter

A position of influence

[Usually, ins] Persons in office or political power

A member of the political party in power

Pull or influence

  • A social advantage or connection

[Tennis, squash, handball, etc.] A return or service that lands within the in-bounds limits of a court or section of a court

[Added to adjectives] Not

[Added to nouns] Without 2

In 3

  • Into
  • Toward
  • Within

Expressing the situation of something that is or appears to be enclosed or surrounded by something else

  • Expressing motion with the result that something ends up within or surrounded by something else

Expressing a period of time during which an event takes place or a situation remains the case

Expressing the length of time before a future event is expected to take place

[Often followed by a noun without a determiner] Expressing a state or condition

  • Indicating the quality or aspect with respect to which a judgment is made

Expressing inclusion or involvement

Indicating someone’s occupation or profession

Indicating the language or medium used

  • Indicating the key in which a piece of music is written

[With verbal noun] As an integral part of an activity

[Chemistry] Forming names of organic compounds, pharmaceutical products, proteins, etc. 4

[Noun combining form] Denoting a gathering of people having a common purpose, typically as a form of protest 5

Verb, transitive:
[British dialect] To enclose

A commercial establishment providing accommodations, food, and drink, for the public, especially for travelers

  • [Usually in names] A restaurant or bar, typically one in the country, in some cases providing accommodations
  • Small hotel

A tavern

[British; always use an initial capital letter] Any of several buildings in London formerly used as places of residence for students, especially law students

A legal society occupying such a building

Yeah, she moved to Indiana, so use IN for the address on that envelope.

If you take In and Ga and rub them against each other, a liquid alloy will start to form.

We knocked at the door but there was no one in.

Pastels and light colors are in this year.

Hey, it’s the in thing to do.

“In!” she called to her partner.

It was one of those in jokes.

This is the in place to be seen.

This is the in part of a mechanism.

Is that an in train?

You have to be a member of the in party.

His in score on the second round was 34.

Come on in.

Presently the admiral breezed in.

Bring it in.

We were locked in!

The train got in very late.

We’ll have to get going, as the tide is coming in.

Looking for a force, they brought the infield in.

He threw a fastball in and up a little.

He would ensure an in with the nominee.

Talk to Mike. He knows the ins and outs of it all.

He’s got it in for his ex.

The election made him an in.

He’s got an in with the senator.

A serve must land in the right service court, in front of the service line, or inside the singles sidelines to count as being in bounds.

He was completely inanimate.

God, he’s so intolerant.

Whoa! Your inappreciation is noted.

An inadvertent administrative error occurred that resulted in an overpayment.

We’ll have to induce labor if we are to save them both.

There has been a huge influx in immigrants.

There was an inborn defect in the formation of collagen.

The kids were dressed in their Sunday best.

She saw it in the rearview mirror.

We like living in Deep River.

You’d better soak it in warm soapy water.

Don’t put dye in the bathtub.

He got in his car and drove off.

They met in 1885.

And where were you at one o’clock in the morning?

I hadn’t seen him in years.

I’ll see you in fifteen minutes.

Oh, to be in love.

I’ve got to put my affairs in order.

She looked to be a woman in her thirties.

So break it in half!

I had laid out in a straight line.

There was no discernible difference in quality, so I took the cheaper one.

I read it in a book.

Can you believe it? Rose is acting in a film.

She works in publishing.

Can you say it in Polish?

Put it in writing.

Mozart’s Piano Concerto in E flat is a fascinating piece.

In planning public expenditure, it is better to be prudent.

She needs to take insulin every day.

We need penicillin over here.

Doesn’t she have her epinephrin pen?

Hey, cousin! Where have you been?

The 1960s were known for their -ins: the sit-in, the sleep-in, and the love-in.

Verb, transitive:
I have no idea. Anyone??

I’ve heard that the Waterside Inn is good.

A number of modern chains have inn as part of their name.

Inn does sound so much cozier than hotel.

The maid said they’d already left the inn.

The governing bodies of the Inns of Court exercise the exclusive right of admitting persons to practice by a formal call to the bar.

Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn are two of the four Inns of Court in England.

Adjective: in-and-out, in-app, in-between, in-company, in-country, in-depth, in-home, in-house, in-line, in-phase, in-school, in-service, inborn, inbounds, inbuilt, inflight, ingoing, ingrowing, inrushing

Adverb: in-country, in-house, infield
Combined Form: -in-waiting
Noun: in-between, in-crowd, in-group, in-joke, in-law, in-liner, inbox, incenter, incentre [British], infeed, infield, infielder, infighting, infighter, infill, ingrowth, inpatient, inrush, inrushing
Verb: inbox, inbreed, inclose [dated], infill, inform

And so many more…!

Adjective: innless
Noun: innkeeper
History of the Word:
1 Old English in (preposition), inn, inne (adverb) are of Germanic origin and related to the Dutch and the German in (as a preposition) and the German ein (as an adverb), from an Indo-European root shared by Latin in and Greek en.

2 From Latin.

3 Representing in or the Latin preposition in.

4 Alteration of -ine.

5 First attested in 1960 with sit-in (which probably was influenced by sit-down strike). It was used first about protests and extended c.1965 to any gathering.

Old English in the sense of dwelling place, lodging, which is of Germanic origin and related to in.

In Middle English, the word was used to translate Latin hospitium, denoting a house of residence for students.

This sense is preserved in the names of some buildings formerly used for this purpose, notably Gray’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn, two of the Inns of Court (see Inn of Court).

Late Middle English is whence the current sense dates.

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:

Bush Inn, St. Hilary by Tony Hodge is under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.

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