Rob (chiroho) wrote in fandom_grammar,
Rob
chiroho
fandom_grammar

Answer: what's the difference between poultry and paltry?

Qdiebirchen submitted a topic about the confusion of similarly sounding words, including some examples she's seen writers use. We've taken those examples to bring you some of those commonly confused words, starting with the difference between "poultry" and "paltry".

Poultry and paltry are words that sound similar, though personally I pronounce them a little differently, but their meanings aren't alike at all.

Poultry are "domesticated birds kept for eggs or meat". So a chicken, from which we get eggs or meat, or a turkey would be an example of poultry.
Tony laughed as McGee sprawled headlong amongst the chickens in the small yard outside the victim's farmhouse. "Nice moves, McPoultry!"
Paltry, on the other hand, has several meanings: "inferior, trashy"; "mean, despicable"; "trivial"; or "meager, measly". Note that, while these meanings aren't identical, they do have a "smallness" to them – inferior, trivial, meager. If you're thinking about something being of little value, then paltry would be an appropriate word. For example:
Tony looked horrified as he inspected the plate of pasta placed in front of him. "What is this paltry excuse for lasagna?"

Ziva slowly raised her hands and looked at the black ink stains on her fingers. "This is a paltry trick Tony, even for you."

Abby gave McGee a hard stare as she watched him drop a twenty dollar bill into the donation bucket she was holding. "That's it, Timmy? What a paltry gift to the nuns from someone as well-off as you."
Although paltry can be used in multiple situations, it probably isn't as commonly used as it used to be. I'd expect to see words like "worthless" and "trivial" used rather than paltry in most situations. But it's definitely still appropriate to use paltry as defined above.

What's a good way of remembering the difference? An egg looks like an O, so if you're talking about chickens or eggs use poultry. The word small contains an "a", as does paltry, so if you're thinking about something trivial use paltry.

Sources:
Poultry at m-w.com http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/poultry
Paltry at m-w.com http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/paltry

Tags: author:chiroho, word choice:similar words
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