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Dairy vs. Diary – Pick the Correct Word

Dairy vs. Diary – Pick the Correct Word

This pair of words is a dyslexic’s nightmare! Dairy and diary have two totally different meanings and pronunciations, yet they are so similar in spelling. You must pay close attention to determine whether you are using diary or dairy correctly.

Short and Sweet: Dairy vs. Diary

While they look similar, these two words are nothing alike.

First, they sound different.

  • Dairy rhymes with .scary.
  • The “IA” in diary sounds like “liar.” If “liary” were a word, they would rhyme.

Second, the definitions:

  • Dairy is a group of food products made from milk, such as cheese and butter.
  • A diary is a journal in which one writes their private thoughts.

This article provides further explanations of these words, as well as example sentences and a trick to remember how to spell dairy or diary.

What Does Dairy Mean?

Meaning of Dairy: Dairy is any food derived from milk. A list of primary dairy products consumed in the U.S. includes: milk, cheese (including cream cheese and cottage cheese), butter, ice cream, yogurt, and eggnog.

Many people categorize eggs as dairy because they are an animal by-product, but eggs do not fit the technical definition of dairy.

In the U.S., most dairy is made from cow’s milk and some from goat’s milk. Dairy can be made from the milk of any mammal, however, including but not limited to: sheep, yaks, buffalo, horses, and camels.

  • I cannot eat any dairy because I am lactose intolerant.
  • We got in a new shipment of butter and cheese, so someone needs to stock the dairy
  • I don’t buy a lot of dairy products because they spoil quickly.

What Does Diary Mean?

Meaning of Diary: A diary is a record of daily activity. In the U.K. a diary is actually a personal calendar. In the U.S., a diary is more like a journal or notebook.

Diary – U.K. A diary in the United Kingdom is a personal planner, or calendar.

  • Excellent, I’ll write our lunch date in my diary for next Wednesday.
  • I know where to go, I wrote the address in my diary.

Diary – U.S. A diary is a record of private thoughts and feelings, so it is typically not meant to be read by anyone else. It is considered a violation of privacy and trust to read someone else’s diary without permission.

The word diary can have feminine connotations, with journal prefered as the less emotionally weighted, more “manly” word. However, the word journal also has less private implications (people often keep a journal of their work).

That said, anyone can keep a diary, regardless of their gender.

  • I used to keep a diary, but I’ve been too busy to write in it lately.
  • I can’t believe you read my diary! I could just die of embarrassment!

Diary vs. Dairy: How to Remember the Difference

As in the last example, you might feel like you want to die if someone were to read your private diary. Alternatively, depending on how vengeful you are, it could be the other person who winds up dead! Either way, the word die can help you remember the pronunciation of diary.

Alternatively, dairy is pronounced like dare. Someone who is lactose intolerant might not dare to eat dairy because they would end up with an upset stomach.

Recap: When to Use Dairy and Diary

Dairy and diary are easy to confuse because of their close spellings. However, the key to remembering the difference is to focus on how the vowel pairs are pronounced.

  • Dairy refers to a group of food products derived from milk. It is pronounced with a long “A,” like “dare.”
  • Diary is a private record of the writer’s thoughts. In diary, both vowels are pronounced, starting with the long “I,” so diary begins with a sound like the word “die.”


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