Word Confusion: Dental versus Dentil

Posted January 22, 2018 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Start the year off right and see to your dental health, so you don’t end up with a “dentil frieze” of false teeth in this pair of heterographs!

I did crack up when I read about the dentil work some male character had had done on his teeth. I’d’ve thought most any alternative would be better than that!

With that resolution out of the way, I’d like to suggest another resolution. If you haven’t used a word before — but it sounds good — check out the definition to be sure. Lord knows I’m always having to look words up when I come up with ’em. I mean, hey, I know this word will be perfect. And most of the time it means what I think it does.

Then there are the times when that’s not what I meant at all. Urkkkk.

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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Dental Dentil
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Up close to a smiling mouth of teeth

“Smile” is dozenist’s own work under the GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 licenses, via Wikimedia Commons

Looks like she’s been practicing good dental hygiene.

A closeup of dentils under a house's gutters

“Dentils, Cornice, and Column Caps on Front Elevation”, Jonathan Kirkbride House, 104 Theatre Street, Mobile, Alabama, by Peter H. Hobart and courtesy of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Part of Grammar:
Adjective; Noun
Plural for noun: dental
Plural for noun:
[Attrib.] Relating to the teeth

  • Describes the objects and procedures of a dentist

[Phonetics; of a consonant] Pronounced with the tip of the tongue against the upper front teeth (as th) or the alveolar ridge (as n, d, t)

[Medicine; Science] Of, relating to, or for the teeth

[Medicine] Of, relating to, or intended for dentistry

[Phonetics] A dental consonant

[Architecture] One of a number of small, square or rectangular blocks used as a repeating ornament under the soffit of Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite cornices of buildings, a piece of furniture, etc.
Dental health is critical for keeping your teeth.

The General Dental Council (GDC) is an organization which regulates dental professionals in the United Kingdom while the American Dental Association does the same in the U.S.

Those dental implants are all the rage these days.

Honey, can you pick up some dental floss at the store?

“To say an n or a t with the tip of my tongue ready for the th sound, I have to use the part of my tongue just behind the tip against the back of my upper teeth, which makes the n or t dental rather than alveolar.” Forero, 9 July 2015, Word Reference

“He spoke to his servant in Hindustani, and I noticed at once the peculiar sound of the dental consonants, never to be acquired by a northern-born person.” – F. Marion Crawford

Do not confuse a dentil frieze with brackets or corbels.

These days you can pick up a length of dentil molding in various sizes for the outside of a house, use inside, or decorate a piece of furniture.

“The first and third courses are stretchers and the middle course is composed of headers laid to form a dentil course.” – Tony P. Wrenn, Huntley

“In the later temples of Ionia, as in the temple of Priene, the larger scale of the dentil is still retained.” – Various , Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 8, Slice 2

“As a general rule the projection of the dentil is equal to its width, and the intervals between to half the width.” – Various, Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 8, Slice 2

Adverb: dentally
Noun: dentalium, dentalia, dentures
Verb: dentalize
Adjective: dentiled
History of the Word:
Late 16th century from the late Latin dentalis, which is from the Latin dens, dent- meaning tooth. Late 16th century from the Italian dentello or the obsolete French dentille, a diminutive of dent meaning tooth, from the Latin dens, dent-.

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:

A Day at the Dentist by Zdenko Zivkovic and New Hall Works – George Street, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham by ell brown are both under the CC BY 2.0 license, via VisualHunt.

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