25th March 2022
Word Choice: Exercise vs. Exorcise?
Exercise and exorcise sound similar, but their meanings are very different. If you get these words mixed up in your writing, your readers will likely be extremely confused! In this post, we’ll explain the difference between the two words, so you’ll always know which one to use.
Exercise: To Take Part in Physical Activity
Exercise is a verb that usually means to engage in physical activity that promotes health and strength:
I try to exercise for 30 minutes each day.
Crunches are a great way of exercising your core.
The word can also be used as a noun to describe such an activity:
Running is my favorite exercise.
Her daily exercises included squats and pushups.
Exercise doesn’t always refer to physical activity though. As a verb, it can mean to put something into action (e.g., a right or an ability):
The donuts are tempting, but I will exercise self-control.
The suspect exercised his right to remain silent.
And as a noun, exercise can refer to any activity that is carried out to develop a skill:
The teacher gave the children a math exercise to complete.
Scales and arpeggios are helpful piano exercises.
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Exorcise: To Get Rid of Something
The word exorcise is always a verb, and it means to make something go away. Most commonly, it refers to removing something destructive or undesirable (e.g., a ghost or an evil spirit):
She tried to exorcise all memories of the accident.
The strange noises stopped after the ghosts were exorcised.
We asked a priest to exorcise the house.
As you can see from these examples, the object of the verb exorcise can be the thing being removed (e.g., bad memories or ghosts) or the place or person it is removed from (e.g., a haunted house).
Summary: Exercise or Exorcise?
Exercise and exorcise are pronounced in almost the same way, but they have very different meanings:
● Exercise can be a noun or a verb. It usually refers to an activity that improves physical fitness or develops a particular skill.
● Exorcise is always a verb, and it means to expel something unwanted (often an evil spirit).
When deciding which word to use, remember that you have to exert yourself when you take part in exercise (e.g., swimming). Exercise and exert both start with the same four letters, so that should help you remember which word is correct.
Both of these words have an “ise” ending in all English dialects. However, in US English, you can also spell exorcise with “ize” (i.e., exorcize). But exercise always ends in “ise,” whichever side of the Atlantic you’re on!
After reading this post, we hope you’ll always know when to use exercise and when exorcise is the word you need instead. For more word choice tips, check out our blog. And if you’d like to have any of your writing checked for errors, our proofreaders can help. You can even upload your first document for free!
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