Grammar

Viola or Voila? Don’t Mix These Up!

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Sometimes your spellcheck can confuse words in suggesting alternatives. A great example could be the choice between viola or voila.

Should it be viola or voila? I asked myself that question and made what I thought would be right choice. Then I did a double take when spellcheck suggested the opposite.

I used a chat service to send a message to an acquaintance. I wanted to use a word that means something along the lines of, “Here it is!” You may already know which of the two words fits that description.

The two words are nearly identical, with just the second and third letters transposed.

Spellcheck tried to suggest the opposite one. So should it be viola or voila?

The word I wanted, of course, was voila. The word that spellcheck, with the best of intentions, suggested I use was viola.

Granted, neither is used often these days, but that’s still no excuse to misspell either one.

Viola

A viola can either be a flower or a music instrument. Merriam-Webster defines the flower as one with solitary white, yellow, or purple often variegated petals that resembles pansies. Violas, you probably won’t be surprised to hear, are in the violet family. You can see examples of them here.

If you love music, you probably recognize the word for a different reason. That kind of viola is a bit larger than a violin. You’ll find its size nestled between the violin and the cello. (The viola is much closer in size to the violin than the cello.)

Here’s more than you ever thought you’d know about the instrument itself:

Voila

Voila is a French word you’ll hear pronounced as “wa-LAH” or, more often, “vwa-LAH.” The word’s based on the second person verb for see. So when someone says, “Voila,” they’re saying, “You see.” People usually use the word as an exclamation.

A timely example of the word in use involves a post about myths involving St. Patrick’s Day. One of the myths is that corned beef and cabbage is an Irish creation. But The Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily sets that record straight, claiming the food originated in America. It explains the how, why and who behind the myth and concludes with this line:

And, voila, a dish that has become the staple of St. Patrick’s Day cuisine was born.

And voila, you now know how choose correctly between viola and voila.

Have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.