Mismatch or Mix Match – Which Spelling Is Correct?

When we combine two items that aren’t exactly identical, should we say “Mismatch” or “Mix Match”?

Let’s look at the two expressions, to find out which is the correct one, and which we should avoid. If both are correct, let’s look into how we should use each of them.

Mismatch or Mix Match – Which Spelling Is Correct?

“Mismatch” is an expression that describes two items that don’t exactly match, when they’re put together – and it may or may not work. “Mix Match” doesn’t exist as an expression. It could be a misspell of “Mismatch” or an incorrect variation of “Mix and Match”.

mismatch or mix match

Take a look at the examples below:

  • She wore mismatched socks.
  • She wore mix matched socks. (incorrect)
  • If she can’t find a pair of socks, just mix and match.

The first sentence presents the word “Mismatch” in its past tense, used correctly: the socks she wore didn’t make a pair, they were different. In other words, they were mismatched.

The second sentence contains the incorrect form “Mix Matched”, which is incorrect and should be avoided.

The third sentence presents a version of the sentence, including the expression “Mix and Match”. In order to use “Mix and Match” some changes had to be made to the structure of the sentence.


Basically, to “Mismatch” is to put together things that are not really suitable for each other (like a pair of socks that don’t match, for example). We can use that word in relation to anything that could be put (or not) together: items, people, things, situations, etc.

The definition we find in The Cambridge Dictionary agrees with the one above, reinforcing the idea that what is a “Mismatch” isn’t suited for each other.

Let’s look at some examples that will clarify this idea:

  1. Looking at the puzzle, I felt like some pieces were mismatched.
  2. I was wearing mismatched socks, one was blue and one was yellow.
  3. Everyone could see that Vanessa and Bryan were mismatched as a couple.
  4. The cat had beautiful mismatched eyes.
  5. There’s been a growing mismatch between our personalities and opinions.

“Mismatch” can be used with both a positive and a negative connotation. In the examples, sentences 2 and 4 indicate a positive connotation: the socks don’t match, but it’s fine; and the cat had beautiful eyes precisely because they were “Mismatched”.

Sentences 1, 3 and 5 seem to indicate more of a negative connotation: the puzzle may be missing pieces and people are facing difficulties getting along because of their “Mismatch”.

Mix Match

“Mix Match” isn’t an expression. It can, on one hand, be a misspell of “Mismatch”. On the other, it could be a poorly constructed variation of the expression “Mix and Match”. This expression, “Mix and Match” is commonly used and is a synonym of “Mismatch”.

Since “Mix Match” doesn’t really exist as an expression, there is no definition for it in The Cambridge Dictionary.

Let’s look at some examples including the incorrect “Mix Match” expression, and how it would look if we used “Mismatch” or “Mix and Match”.

  1. I think we accidentally mix matched the seating arrangements. (incorrect)
  2. I think we accidentally mixed and matched the seating arrangements.
  1. There is a clear mix match between the skills she offered and what was necessary for the job. (incorrect)
  2. There is a clear mismatch between the skills she offered and what was necessary for the job.
  1. Their relationship had always been a mix match. (incorrect)
  2. Their relationship had always been mismatched.

Which Is Used the Most?

Which form do you think is used more often? “Mismatch”, or “Mix Match”? The graph from Google Ngram Viewer below will tell us the answer.

mismatch or mix match usage

As expected, the correct form “Mismatch” appears much more frequently than “Mix Match”. It makes sense, since one is correct and the other isn’t.

But it’s also interesting to notice how much the use for “Mismatch” has grown in the recent decades, especially since the 1980’s.

Final Thoughts

Whenever describing items that were put together but don’t really fit, use “Mismatch”. That’s the correct form. “Mix Match” doesn’t really exist as an expression. It could be a misspell of “Mismatch” or a bad variation of the expression “Mix and Match” (which means the same as “Mismatch”).