‘Tact’, ‘tack’ and ‘task’

In my experience, it is common for people to get confused when using ‘tact’ and ‘tack’.


  • a sense of (and an ability or will to use) the best and most considerate way to deal with people (so as not to upset them)
  • skill in handling difficult situations or issues


  • a course of action or policy, or a way of dealing with a problem or situation
  • a small, short sharp-pointed nail with a large flat head; to fasten something or fix in place with a tack or tacks
  • to add something to an already existing whole – ‘to tack something on’
  • a drawing pin (in North American English)
  • a long loose temporary stitch used to fasten fabrics together; to sew something with long loose temporary stitcheshttps://pixabay.com/en/horse-spring-brown-blue-sky-muzzle-742424/
  • the riding harness for horses, including saddles and bridles
  • the act of changing course by turning a boat’s head into and through the wind (creating a zigzag course to make progress against the wind); the boat’s course relative to the wind’s direction; the distance sailed between tacks
  • a rope for securing a certain type of sail; the corner a rope is fastened to
  • being sticky (as a quality or property)


  • a specific piece of work to be done or undertaken
  • an unpleasant or difficult job or duty
  • to assign or give a job or piece of work to
  • to make demands on someone’s resources or abilities
  • to criticize or rebuke – ‘take to task’

Thank you to Johanna Levene aka Afthead for suggesting this post.


2 thoughts on “‘Tact’, ‘tack’ and ‘task’

  1. Why on earth would anyone get confused since “tack” alone has NINE different definitions? Sheesh. English is hard sometimes.

    Thanks so much for the post. Now the next time someone at work says, “Let’s change tasks” or “Let’s change tack” or “Let’s change tact” I’ll know they want to change the specific piece of work we are accomplishing, the way we are dealing with a problem, or they probably don’t know what they are talking about. Did I get that right?


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