Jist or gist? Which spelling is correct? The English language is full of words that are difficult to spell. Worse, there are words that you may be spell correctly, but still using the wrong choice of word. One of the words that trip people up is “gist.” Or is it “jist?”
Jist or Gist
There are certain words that we get stuck on. Is it “accept,” or “except?” Is it “hear” or “here?” Then there is the ongoing decision-making problem of “to,” “too,” and “two.” Words like these are known as homophones. These are words that sound the same but have very different meanings. They can easily trip you up when writing as no all grammar-checking systems are the same. Because they are spelled correctly, your spell-checker will not catch them. You really just need to learn these words because if you do not, you will be judged by those who spot the error. You will find a “grammar-Nazi” on every social media platform and they will delight in calling you out.
Worse, words trip us up in the workplace. A word used incorrectly in a memo or business letter can have devastating consequences. Yes, I said devastating. At the least, your poor word choice will simply distract from your message. At the worst? Your boss may think you make the business look bad, and it will cost you a promotion. So it is a good idea to go through lists of homophones to make sure you are using the correct word.
The Problem with “Gist” and “Jist”
These two words present an even bigger problem.
“Gist” is a noun that means:
- The main point,
- The essence,
- The essential point in a matter
It also has a legal definition: the grounds or basis of legal action. But you will most often hear it as the main point in a matter. For example:
- “I could list ten other things that he has done wrong, but you get the gist.”
- “I told him to stop dancing around the answer and get to the gist of the matter.”
“Jist,” very simply, is not a word. You are not going to find it in dictionaries and spell-checkers may try to change it to “just,” or “jest.” When people with strong regional accents (especially Southerners) say the word “just,” it may sound like “jist.” But unless you are writing fiction, you usually want to spell the word correctly. It does not matter how it sounds; it matters that you spell it correctly.
How Do You Remember the Correct Spelling?
Once you start thinking about it, it is fairly easy to remember the difference. Remember it this way:
- “Gist” is good. Both words begin with the letter G.
- “Jist” is just wrong. Both words begin with the letter J.
The English language can be tricky, especially when you are writing formally or in business. Not everyone has a strong mastery of spelling and grammar, but enough people do to make it worrisome. You do not want to look bad at work (or in any venture) by using a word incorrectly, or in this case, using a word that does not even exist.
I do hope you got the gist of this.