Third Wednesday: The Vile Contents of the Vial

Today let’s look at two words spellcheck can’t fix for you.  And if they creep past your editor and proofreader, you end up with a preventable typo in your book.

Here’s a paraphrase of the sentence I read in a novel:

“The vial owner of the bar turned a blind eye to the two guys beating up the stranger who’d wandered into the wrong drinking establishment.”


Vial – a glass container, usually small, filled with liquid.

Hermione raised the vial to her lips, hesitating before sipping the malodorous potion.

The vial was ancient, the glass darkened with age, its contents hidden behind a patina of dust.


Vile – morally base or offensive; disgusting, wicked, depraved; offensive to the senses.

The vile handiwork of the killer made the seasoned cop retch.

What is that vile odor coming from the rug rolled up in the closet?


Here’s another look at Vial and Vile.


Some people consider chewing tobacco to be a vial habit.

Peering into the vile, Merlin discovered the elixir had evaporated.



When the action taken by world leaders is vile enough, citizens of the world will begin to practice civil disobedience.

I poured the molten gold into a vial.

If we see life as a vial filled with liquid hope, the world may begin to respond to vile actions with resolve and fortitude.


Want an easy way to remember which is which?  If it’s a physical object that holds a liquid, there’s an “a” in the word.  If it’s something offensive or morally wrong, maybe there’s something “I” can do about it.