Commonly Misused Words and Phrases in Skydiving

Compiled by Gary Peek

As a writer it drives me crazy when I see people misuse and misspell words, especially skydiving related words, for example, on the newsgroup rec.skydiving, on, and on Facebook. Here is a list of my favorites, all of which I have actually seen people misuse. Well, OK, not all of them are skydiving related, but some of them are just too good to exclude. Definitions are short to benefit the format.


aires: no such word, acronym only
heirs: persons who have a right of inheritance

accept: to receive or agree with
except: exclusion, "other than"

advice: suggestions given to someone
advise: to give a suggestion

affect: to influence
effect: result

aloud: with the normal tone/volume of the speaking voice
allowed: admitted as legal or acceptable

angle: the space (in degrees) between two intersecting lines or surfaces
angel: a spiritual being believed to act as a messenger of God

arial: a sans-serif typeface and computer font
aerial: of or relating to the atmosphere; antenna
Ariel: proper name or product name

are: second person singular/plural and first/third person plural present indicative of "be"
our: possessive form of "we"

asses: donkeys, "butts"
assess: evaluate

banned: officially or legally prohibited or excluded
band: a stripe of a different color, texture, or composition than its surroundings

bare: lacking a covering, exposed
bear: large furry mammal, or, to hold up, secure or carry
beer: alcoholic drink made from yeast-fermented malt flavored with hops

beat: strike, completely exhausted, rhythmic unit in music
beet: herbaceous plant (Beta vulgaris) of the goosefoot family

below: underneath, less than
bellow: emit a deep loud roar
billow: fill with air and swell outward

biennial: every two years
bi-annual: twice a year

bonfire: outdoor fire used for waste disposal or as part of a celebration
bond fire: Slavic term used because of the bond developed between friends around the fire

board: a long, thin, flat piece of wood or other hard material
bored: lacking interest in one's current activity

brake: to stop or slow
break: to fracture
brakes: toggles, as in "brake lines"

bridle: connects pilot chute to other gear, etc.
bridal: having to do with brides/weddings

burble: a separation in the boundary layer of air about a moving streamlined body
burbal: no such word

could: used to indicate possibility
cude: shortened version of "cool dude" (according to Urban Dictionary)

could've: could have, not could of
should've: should have, not should of
would've: would have, not would of

cell: integral part of a parachute
sell: give something in exchange for money

censor: examine officially and suppress parts
sensor: converter that converts a physical quantity into a signal
censure: express severe disapproval of someone or something

Cessna: aircraft company named after Clyde Cessna
Sessna: model of Driv brand automobile wheel

caught: simple past tense and past participle of catch
cought: slang spelling of caught

cheap: inexpensive
cheep: noise made by a bird

chalk up: to ascribe or credit, to hold something responsible
chock up: to place chock(s) under something, usually wheels

cinch: a tight grip
synch: abbreviation of synchronization

cite: to quote a passage, book, or author
site: area on which something is constructed, or, a web site
sight: the faculty or power of seeing

click: gesture made with a computer input device, type of sound
clique: inclusive group sharing common views, purposes, patterns of behavior

course: path, unit of learning
coarse: loose/rough (opossite of "fine"), crude or unrefined

cord: as in "pullup cord", or "pull your cord" (ripcord)
chord: a canopy measurement from front to back, a set of musical notes played together

committee: small deliberative assembly
comity: mutual civility/courtesy

complaisant: compliant, willing to do what please others
complacent: uncritically satisfied with oneself or one's achievements

compliment: flattery or praise
complement: to make complete

corrode: destroy or damage slowly by chemical action
coroad: no such word

cypres (CYPRES): model of AAD
cypress: type of tree
Cyprus: a country in the eastern Mediterranean

descent: traveling down in altitude
decent: respectable

definitely: indisputable
definately: no such word

doe: female deer
dough: slang for money

does: a form of the word "do"
dose: a quantity of a substance administered at any one time

don: to put on (a piece of gear)
dawn: the time at which daylight first begins

doubt: to lack confidence in
dought: to be able or capable (pronounce like "dow")

drogue: stabilization parachute
drouge: no such word

dual: a grouping of 2, pair
duel: an engagement in combat between two individuals

earg: no such word, likely acronym
urge: a strong desire or impulse

flair: style
flare: to pull down on toggles (parachute) or pull back on yoke (airplane)

farther: refers to actual distance
further: refers to an extension of time or degree

finally: after a long time, typically involving difficulty or delay
finale: the last part of a piece of music or performance

fluid: something that continually flows
flewid: no such word other than company/product name

foul: offensive to the senses, or, unfair or invalid
fowl: bird, or food from bird

fray: (of a fabric, rope, or cord) unravel or become worn at the edge
frey: possible proper name

gauge: any device or instrument for measuring
gouge: a groove or hole made by gouging

gesture: a movement of part of the body to express an idea or meaning
jester: an entertainer during the medieval and Renaissance eras

Google: an internet compmany providing search engine and other services
goggle: protective eye wear

greatful: no such word
grateful: appreciative of kindness or benefits received

hanger: object for suspending clothes
hangar: place to store aircraft

heal: to make someone or something healthy or well again
heel: the rounded posterior portion of the human foot under and behind the ankle

higher: opposite of lower
hire: pay someone to do something

hole: an opening into or through something
whole: all of, entire, complete

humbling: having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc.
humballing: various slang meanings

(il)legal: pertaining to law
(il)leagel: no such word

Insite: name of a number of products
insight: the ability to perceive clearly or deeply

incite: to move to action; stir up; spur on; urge on
insight: the power or act of seeing into a situation

incest: sex between people too closely related to marry each other
insist: demand something forcefully, not accepting refusal

intact: not damaged or impaired in any way; complete
in tact: improper varient of intact

intent: an aim or purpose (noun)
intend: to have in mind as a purpose or goal (verb)

its: possessive, belonging to "it"
it's: contraction, "it is"

khaki: a textile fabric of a dull brownish-yellow color
cacky: of or like excrement, or, dirty, worthless, or contemptible

knew: having knowledge of
new: opposite of old

know: to have knowledge of
no: negative, opposite of yes

Krugerrand: South African gold coin
coogerans: no such word, wild misspelling

liable: responsible or obligated
libel: defamation by written or printed words

lean: to incline, deviate, or bend from vertical 
lien: a charge upon property for the satisfaction of some debt

lone: single, one
loan: give to be borrowed

lose: to experience loss
loose: not tight

loud: with a great deal of volume
lowed: make a low noise, or, having relatively little upward extension

loupe: simple, small magnification device
lupe: shorter name of a person or place named Guadalupe

male/female: specifies gender
mail/femail: postal service related/name of a number of products

Manusha: a proper name, name common in India
minutia: lots of little bits of details or parts

Martial law: military led government
Marshall law: incorrect phrase, Australian television series

mistake: error
misteak: no such word

moot: open to discussion or debate, debatable, doubtful
mute: silent, refraining from speech or utterance

muscle: tissue found in animals that function to produce force and motion
mussel: members of several families of clams or bivalvia mollusca

ought: used to indicate obligation or duty, should
aught: anything, everything, all, or zero

parachute (chute): canopy
parashute (shute): no such word
parashoot: combination parachute/firearms related event

passed: completed, movement relative to an object, died
past: expression of elapsed time

peace: calmness
piece: part   

pitot: type of tube that is a pressure measurement instrument
peto: proper name, fart (slang)

peal: a loud ringing of a bell or bells
peel: (of a surface or object) lose parts of its outer layer or covering

per se: by, of, for, or in itself; intrinsically
Persay: Israeli company specializing in Voice Biometrics technology

plain: simple
plane: airplane

porch: platform at an entrance to a building
Porsche: brand of automobile

portrait: artistic representation of a person
portray: depict something in a work of art or literature

pray: make a devout or earnest request
prey: to hunt or catch, or, to victimize or make a profit at someone else's expense

president: one appointed or elected to preside over an organized body of people
precedent: something that sets a standard for future events

presense: state of existing, occurring, or being present in a place or thing
presents: something given to another, gifts

principle: rule or standard
principal: person, or to show importance

prior: preceding in time or in order
pryor: a surname, as in Richard Pryor the comedian

quiet: making little or no noise/sound
quite: to the utmost or most absolute extent or degree

ramble: to talk or write in a long-winded wandering fashion
ramball: product/company name

right: correct; opposite of left
write: mark on a surface with an implement

rigour: a severe or cruel circumstance; a hardship
rigger: a worker that rigs something, e.g., a parachute rigger

rogue: transient, vagrant, as in "rogue opening"
rouge: cosmetic, from French for "red"

role: the part played by a person or thing in a particular situation
roll: move in a particular direction by turning over and over on an axis

Sabre: parachute manufactured by Performance Designs
saber: single edged sword

Safire: parachute manufactured by Icarus Canopies
sapphire: blue gemstone

seam: the line where layers of fabric are sewn together
seem: to appear to be

sea: expanse of salt water that covers most of the earth's surface; ocean
see: perceive with the eyes; discern visually

scene: the place where an action or event occurs
seen: perceived with the eyes; discerned visually

seminar: a form of academic instruction
symenar: no such word

sent: to cause, permit, or enable to go, or a monetary unit of Estonia
scent: a distinctive, often agreeable odor

sew: to join or attach by stitches
sow: to plant seed for

shoddy: badly made or done
shotty: abbreviation of "shotgun" as in "sit shotgun"

shoo-in: someone or something that will win easily or is certain to win
Shuein: (Chinese) name

sink: kitchen appliance, or, to go down below the surface
sync: short for synchronize, cause to occur or operate at the same time or rate

shudder: tremble convulsively, as a result of fear or revulsion
shutter: in photography, a device that opens and closes to expose the film in a camera

some: an unspecified number or quantity
sum: the whole amount, quantity, or number, or, an aggregate

specs: abbreviation for "specifications" or "spectacles"
specks: tiny spots

stare: look at intently
stair: inclination with multiple steps

staid: sedate, respectable, and unadventurous
stayed: remained in the same place

static line: as in static line jump
static: fixed
static: a type of noise

steal: to take without permission
steel: alloy based on iron

steer: guide or control the movement of
steer: male bovine animal
stear: no such word

stow: to store; to place or arrange
stoe: acronym for "small team of experts"; other slang definitions

straight: not having curves, bends, or angles
strait: narrow passage of water connecting two seas

tach: abbreviation of tachometer
tack: small, sharp, broad-headed nail

their: possessive form of "they"
there: opposite of "here"
they're: "they are"

tensile: a type of strength measurement (as in tensile strength)
tinsel: glittery stuff used for decoration

to: preposition
too: adverb, "also"
two: number "2"

touché: used to acknowledge the success of an argument, an accusation, or a witty point
TooShay: odd misspelling of touché

thread: group of continuing posts on the same topic in a forum
threat: a statement of intention of hostile action

though: in spite of the possibility/fact that
thought: forms created in the mind

through: an indication of passage, movement, or completion
throw: propel with force through the air
threw: past tense of throw

throne: a ceremonial chair
thrown: past tense of throw, to propel something with force through the air 

torque: a rotational/turning force
tork: name of a number of products, a proper name

torture: act of inflicting severe pain as a means of forcing information or a confession
torcher: one who gives light with a torch or sets buildings ablaze (arsonist)

Triathlon: canopy model from Aerodyne Research
triath(a)lon: multi-sport event
Tryathlon: no such word, except as a deliberately misspelled name for various events

turban: form of headgear popular in the Middle East
turbine: rotary engine that extracts energy from a fluid flow

undo: open or unfasten
undue: unwarranted or inappropriate because excessive or disproportionate

vane: movable device attached for showing the direction of the wind
vain: having an excessively high opinion of one's self, or, producing no result, useless
vein: blood vessel that carries blood towards the heart

vary: change, or differ in size, amount, or deree
very: much, or to a high degree

Vigil: model of AAD
Virgil: person's name, classical Roman poet

vile: extremely unpleasant
vial: a small container, typically cylindrical and made of glass

waist: the part of the abdomen between the rib cage and hips
waste: use thoughtlessly or carelessly, also, rubbish, trash, refuse, garbage, etc.

ware: an article of commerce
wear: to use for clothing or adornment
where: at or in what place

wary: feeling or showing caution about possible dangers or problems
weary: feeling or showing tiredness

weather: condition of the atmosphere
whether: introduces alternatives, "if"

website: place/files on the world wide web associated with a domain name
websight: no such word/phrase

whiteness: the quality or state of being white
witness: a person who sees something (such as a crime) happen

who's: contraction of "who is"
whose: possessive form of "who"

wipe out: to clean or dry by rubbing
whipe: deliberate misspelling of wipe, e.g., Whipe Out

which: asking for information specifying one or more things from a definite set
witch: a woman thought to have evil magic powers

wrap: encase or enclose
rap: to strike, or, style of music

wreck: damage, destroy
reck: to have care, concern, or regard

yoke: collar around the neck
yolk: yellow part of an egg


Here are some interesting misuses of words or phrases I have heard, often by excited student skydivers.

This one is a true story, said by a radio personality who made his first static line jump while on the air, with a tramsmitter to the radio station. After his canopy opened: "OK, the slipper is down far enough, let's do a controllability check... Right throttle, left throttle, flange."

From a dropzone review on Yelp: "After you pull the chute out, you can take hold of the reins and direct where you go."(So who is the horse? Your canopy or your tandem instructor?)

Know of any more?
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