When describing something lying deep beneath the surface, is the term deep-seated or deep-seeded?
Deep-seated is the correct adjective you’re looking for. While the imagery of plants’ roots extending into the earth might crop up when hearing this, keep your green thumb in check. Unfortunately for the plants, deep-seeded isn’t a real word.
Deep-seated (pronounced deep-see-ted) is a compound adjective that means “firmly implanted” or “lying deep beneath the surface.” Like many compound adjectives, deep-seated is hyphenated when it appears before a noun.
Deep-seated often describes abstract concepts, such as fears or ideas.
- She’s always had a deep-seated fear of spiders.
- There are some seriously deep-seated issues with this building.
- Where does deep-seated resentment like this even come from?
In this usage, seated means “set in place,” similar to the way you are “seated” in a chair. When something is deep-seated, it’s set very deeply in place.
In modern English pronunciation, the /t/ sound in seated sounds more like a /d/ sound, so it’s easy to see why some believe it should be deep-seeded.
The first records of deep-seated are from the 1700s, although people began using it figuratively in the 1800s.
You can use deep-seated in both ways.
|Literal||Describes something that is fixed or settled deep within something else||A leak in the deep-seated pipes caused water damage in the house.|
|Figurative||Describes something as being very well-established or long-lasting||The deep-seated feud between the school rivals was settled after last night’s game.|
Deep-seated also has a sinister use, which describes issues that may be so deep they were initially hidden.
This use is frequently associated with diseases nestled deep within the human body, such as a difficult-to-detect infection or cancer, or social issues that are firmly implanted in societies.
It’s easy to see why people say deep-seeded instead of deep-seated, since seeds are planted deeply (just like doubt, fear, ideas, etc.).
But deep-seeded is an eggcorn (a phrase that sounds very similar to the real phrase) for deep-seated.
Seeded as a verb means “planted a seed,” and as an adjective means “having seeds.”
- I prefer seeded grapes to seedless ones.
- We seeded the beds as soon as the frost melted.
If you wanted to describe seeds that were planted deeply, you’d say deeply seeded, not deep-seated, since seeded is a verb and deeply is an adverb.
Need to Know
In the world of sports, tournament seeding means sorting teams based on their statistics. If someone is seeded highly, they are ranked higher than those seeded lower.
- Did a 16 seed really just beat a 1 seed?
- We were seeded too low for our skills, so we easily won the tournament.
If you’re talking about sports, seated is incorrect. Use seeded instead.
If you’re speaking out loud, deep-seated and deep-seeded sound exactly the same, so you don’t need to worry about their differences. However, if you’re writing them out, you should get the spelling correct.
- Picture someone firmly sitting on a chair and refusing to get out. That’s you and your deep-seated idea.
- If you’re tempted to say deep-seeded, remember that seeds can easily be dug out of the ground and removed — unlike your deep-seated ideas.
Interestingly enough, the incorrect use of deep-seeded started gaining usage in the early 1800s. And, today, more people use deep-seeded than its correct counterpart.
But now that you know it is seated, not seeded, you can be one of the few to avoid making this mistake.
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