13th March 2021
Word Choice: Incite vs. Insight
The words “incite” and “insight” sound similar but are spelled differently. They also mean very different things, so you won’t want to confuse them in your writing. To make sure you can use them correctly, then, check out our simple guide below.
Incite (Stir or Encourage)
“Incite” is a verb that means “encourage, urge on, or stir up,” usually in relation to something violent or unpleasant. For example:
The group’s leaders incited the mob to riot.
The country has laws against inciting hatred.
Sometimes it is used in a more positive context, but this is fairly rare. More conventionally positive alternatives include “exhort,” “encourage,” or even “inspire.”
Insight (An Understanding)
“Insight” is a noun that refers to a clear understanding of something or someone:
The book gives us a true insight into the lives of its characters.
It was good to get some fresh insights into the business.
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It can also refer to the ability to understand something:
She has real insight into human nature.
He lacks the insight to know when he is wrong.
The word is made up of “in” and “sight,” originally meaning “understanding from within.” Nowadays, though, it usually refers to understanding something else.
Summary: Incite or Insight?
Although these words sound similar, they mean very different things:
- Incite is a verb that means “encourage, urge on, or stir up,” typically in relation to violence or negative behavior.
- Insight is a noun that refers to a deep understanding of something.
If you find these words tricky, think of “insight” as seeing something clearly. If you do this, you’ll know that you need to use the word with “sight” in it to discuss understanding something. And if you want to make sure that your writing is error free, our proofreaders can help. Sign up for a free trial to find out more!
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