Commonly Confused Words
Bazaar and bizarre might sound alike but a bazaar is a market and bizarre describes something kooky. There could be a bizarre bazaar run by monkeys selling people feet.
A bazaar is usually a market in the Middle East. Picture lots of booths with merchants selling their wares. It's crowded, with haggling going on all around and pungent smells from the food vendors. Istanbul's Grand Bazaar is a good example. The American version of a bazaar is quite tame by comparison. It's a temporary (usually a day or two) market offering various goods for sale for a charitable cause, such as a church or school. Here are some examples of both:
Abdul Halim, an Afghan Special Forces sergeant, happened to be passing through the bazaar in his truck. (New York Times)
Arab Festival: Food, coffeehouse, children's activities, fashion show, bazaar, performances, panel discussions, noon-7 p.m. (Seattle Times)
Cochise College Adult Education will host a craft bazaar fundraiser from 10 am to 3 pm Wednesday, Nov. 17 at the Sierra Vista Campus. (Sierra Vista Herald)
The other half of our word pair, bizarre, is an adjective meaning strange or very unusual, wacky, odd:
In the 1500s and 1600s, bizarre paintings in caverns and ruins were known as grottesche, the root, perhaps, of the modern-day word “grotesque,” a genre that delights in the ugly, irregular and strange. (Washington Post)
The video, which was posted days ago but gained Internet traction on Tuesday, was called "bizarre" and "strange" in some media reports. (Reuters)
The only reason you might get bazaar and bizarre mixed up is that they sound the same. You won't find them together often, unless you're in the market for some human toes.
A bazaar is a market that has rows and rows of little shops selling miscellaneous stuff — like tube socks, velvet paintings, and corn on the cob. Continue reading...
Someone or something bizarre is odd or unusual in appearance, style, or character. If your teacher walks into class wearing a purple boa, lime-green cowboy boots, and a scuba mask, you might comment, "How bizarre!" Continue reading...