“Scaring” and “Scarring” are words that look very similar. It can cause some confusion, both in daily use and in online AI generated dictionaries, that treat them as if they were the same.
Let’s take this opportunity to look into these two words, searching for their meaning and correct use.
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“Scaring” and “Scarring” don’t share the same meaning, and are far from being synonyms. “Scaring” comes from the verb “scare”, and is related to causing fear or having feelings of fear. “Scarring” comes from the word “scar”, and is used as a verb relating to the formation of a scar.
Let’s take a look at some examples that will clarify this difference.
- Kennedy loved scaring her little sister.
- Kennedy loved scarring her little sister. (incorrect)
- Howard had some scarring on her hand from a burn.
- Howard had some scaring on her hand from a burn. (incorrect)
In the first set of examples, we find one correct sentence that uses the word “Scaring”, followed by a similar sentence, with the word “Scarring”. As expected they don’t interchange.
Kennedy likes to scare her sister, possibly by playing pranks on her. To say she likes “Scarring” (which means “causing scars”), although not grammatically incorrect, per se, isn’t what the original sentence aimed for.
In the second set of examples, Howard has some scars in formation, likely due to a healing process, in his hands. The correct word here is “Scarring”. Changing it to “Scaring” (as in “causing fear”) in the second sentence, takes away from the meaning, completely.
There’s no doubt those words carry different meanings. The Cambridge Dictionary defines “Scarring” as the present participle of “scar”. The same dictionary also defines “Scaring” under the word “scare”.
“Scaring” is about causing someone to be afraid or scared. It can be a practical joke with no harm intended, or something more serious. Either way, “Scaring” is always connected with the idea of fear.
Take a look at how the word “Scaring” works in a sentence:
- Wendy was planning on scaring her brother by wearing a scary mask.
- Luke loved scaring his family members as a prank.
- The spider on the wall was scaring Samantha.
- Frankie told her son to stop scaring his little siblings for fun.
- The insects around the neighborhood were always scaring me.
“Scarring” relates to a scar in formation. If spoken with a literal meaning, it relates to a mark on the skin that’s the result of the healing process after an injury. But it can also be used figuratively, indicating a mental scar after a trauma, for example.
Take a look at examples that show how to use “Scarring” in a sentence:
- The doctor told me that, eventually, the scarring on my leg would fade.
- Unfortunately, John’s accident led to a lot of scarring in his body.
- There is nothing shameful about scarring, it’s simply your body healing itself.
- Internal scarring can sometimes be damaging to a person’s health.
- The doctor prescribed an ointment to help with the scarring.
Now that we’ve been over the two words and its meaning, with examples to illustrate it, there’s no way we can take one of another. “Scaring” and “Scarring” aren’t the same and don’t convey the same message. Keep that in mind, when choosing which word to use.
Amongst all English speakers, do you think people usually say the word “Scaring” or “ Scarring”?
The graph below, from Google Ngram Viewer, will provide us with that answer. Take a look!
Following the trend, when looking all over the world, “Scarring” is used way more often than “Scaring”.
We think it’s because people can describe fear in many different forms, using different words. The scars in someone’s body, on the other hand, are harder to describe without the actual “scar” word and its variations.
The graph doesn’t allow for us to infer (in any of the three cases we just saw) that “scars” are more of a topic than “scares”, in general. It only indicates that the specific word “Scarring” is used more often than the specific word “Scaring”.
Similar words can sometimes cause confusion. It happens to all of us! In this case, keep in mind that “Scaring” and “Scarring” aren’t the same. In fact, they couldn’t be more different. Use “Scaring” in moments of fear and scare, and “Scarring” to describe scars on someone’s body.