Hoping to catch a stripper?

Strip and stripe are two words that look similar and are pronounced differently. More important, they convey strikingly different meanings. And yet both and their derivatives are constantly being used incorrectly by people who don’t know better.

If you see a Facebook post selling a “striped” piece of furniture, it means one of two things. Either it has been decorated with alternating bands of color, in which case the post’s writer was being accurate. Or, the piece has had its finish removed, in which case the writer meant “stripped.” If you ask me to “stripe” an end table for you, I’ll do something very different from “stripping” it.

If you’re headed out on a fishing trip, you may be hoping to catch some striped bass, which anglers often refer to as “stripers.” But if you write that your trip was successful because you hooked a dozen strippers, you’ve either chosen the wrong word, or you’ve had quite the extraordinary adventure.

Spelling counts. Be careful.