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Bail and Bale

Commonly Confused Words


The noun bail refers to money used to arrange the temporary release of a person awaiting a court trial. As a verb, bail means to set free an accused person through payment of bail, or to help out an individual or organization that's having financial problems. The verb bail also means to scoop water out of a boat or to run away from a difficult situation.

The noun bale refers to a large bundle, usually one that has been tightly wrapped and bound.


  • Old Jake walked five miles to the courthouse to post bail for his grandson.

  • It was the usual practice to jail defendants in civil actions until they put up bail.

  • Against the opposition of most Americans, President Clinton decided to bail out his friends on Wall Street and in Mexico.

  • The pilot asked the crew members whether they wanted to bail out or ride the plane down into the cornfield.

  • Haley lifted a bale of hay and placed it in the corner with the others.

Practice Exercises:

(a) Throughout the storm, the fishermen _____ frantically, cast out hooks, give their lines a jerk, and haul in more fish from the sea.

(b) The judge decided that the _____ was excessive and reduced it by half.

(c) One _____ of straw will cover an average of 900 square feet.

(d) The detective could have stayed with the department once he'd recovered from his gunshot wound, but he chose to _____.

Answers to Practice Exercises

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

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