Deep-Seated or Deep-Seeded: What’s the Difference?

The English language is a difficult one to master, especially for non-native speakers and writers. Many words sound the same, have similar meanings, are pronounced alike, etc.

It is essential, however, to know, learn, and remember these key differences to be an effective oral and written communicator.

What is the Difference Between Deep-Seated and Deep-Seeded?

Today, I want to compare deep-seated vs. deep-seeded.

These two spellings sound virtually the same when spoken, but only one is the correct use of a common English phrase.

In this post, I hope to bring more clarity and understanding to these two phrases, so that going forward in your writing, the correct message is communicated with your readers. Once you’re done reading, you won’t ever again wonder to yourself, “Is it deep-seated or deep-seeded?”

When to Use Deep-Seated

deep seated versus deep seeded grammarWhat does deep-seated mean? Deep-seated is the correct expression and is defined as firmly established at a deep or profound level; entrenched.

  • Shelby has deep-seated anxiety about this situation
  • He has a deep-seated infection.

People generally get this phrase mixed up because it isn’t that farfetched to think of something firmly established at a deep level as being buried in the ground, i.e., deep-seeded. This, however, is an incorrect reading of the metaphor.

Deep-seated is the correct expression, and the metaphor derives from horse back riding and being “deep in the seat.” In this sense, deep-seated refers to the position of the rider on the horse.

Now, the phrase mostly refers metaphorically to feelings or positions being ingrained and entrenched within someone. Put differently, these feelings are seated within you, i.e., they are fixed firmly within you.

When to Use Deep Seeded

deep seeded versus deep seated meaningWhat does deep-seeded mean? While it may be tempting to use the spelling deep-seeded, this is actually a misspelling of the common phrase deep-seated.

One might think that like a seed is planted so is a thought, feeling, or emotion deeply planted within someone. As I mentioned above, however, this is a misreading of the true metaphor, which relates back to horseback riding.

Not to mention that something that is “deep-seeded” probably wouldn’t grow, as seeds aren’t usually planted deeply for harvest.

The bottom line is deep-seeded is a common misspelling that you can eliminate from your vocabulary.

Is Deep-Seated Hyphenated?

The phrase deep-seated functions as an adjective and should always be hyphenated in your text. This avoids and possible confusion as to the use of the phrase in your sentence.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Here’s an easy trick to remember deep-seeded vs. deep-seated. Use these two tricks to mentally check yourself.

Check one: Imagine a football fan seated deeply within the depths of his couch, eating chips and hotdogs. Nothing will make him move from his position. He is positioned firmly and in a fixed position deep within the seat.

You might say he is entrenched in the couch. In other words, he is deep-seated. This trick will help you mentally associated the phrase with the word seated.

Check two: You can remember that deep-seeded is incorrect because seeds planted deeply (deep-seeded seeds) will not grow.

Summary

Although there are some tricky and sticky paths to take while navigating the English language, it is far from impossible and can be a lot less intimidating with a little understanding.

That said, is it deep-seeded or deep-seated? One of these spellings is incorrect and widely rejected, and the other is the correct phrase.

Deep-seated is the correct phrase.

Deep-seeded is a misspelling.

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