Make Your Editor Cry: Bazaar vs. Bizarre

Make Your Editor Cry:  Bazaar vs. Bizarre

Bazaar and bizarre might sound alike but a bazaar is a market and bizarre describes something really strange or kooky. I suppose there could be a bizarre bazaar run by elephants selling human teeth.

A bazaar is a noun from the Persian word bāzār and is the term for a market usually in the Far or Middle East, which the natives these days would most likely call a souk. 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. The US version of a bazaar is quite tame by comparison. It’s often a temporary (usually a day or two) market offering various goods for sale for a charitable cause, such as a church or school. When we think of these, a bazaar is a market that has rows and rows of little tables selling miscellaneous stuff—like tube socks, macaroni art, and corn cob dolls.

The word bizarre is an adjective meaning strange or very unusual, wacky, odd. 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!”

The only reason you might get bazaar and bizarre mixed up is that they are a special kind of homonyms called homophones, meaning they sound the same. You won’t often find them together, unless you’re in the market for some human teeth.

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