palate 1. n . the top or roof of the mouth; 2. n. one’s sense of taste.
palette 1. n. an easily held flat surface on which an artist mixes paints; 2. n. a range of available colours.
pallet 1. n. a straw-filled mattress, a temporary (and often uncomfortable) bed; 2. n. a sturdy, usually wood, surface on which goods can be stored and transported.
Words in the Wild: Felix stood on a stack of pallets to reach the top corner of his canvas. He leaned too far and overbalanced, accidentally flicking paint from his palette onto his palate. Luckily the colour was a tasty lemon yellow.
I see these words sneaking into each others’ places fairly often. Sadly I don’t have any helpful mnemonics for you this time—the only way I know to keep these ones straight is to look them up if you’re not sure. If you have a trick for remembering these words, please let us know in the comments.
Still vexed? You can find a complete list of the Word Blog’s lexical vexations here.