Break a bad habit: Ingrained vs. engrained

Among the many words we mishear (or perhaps hear “mispronounced”) is ingrain and ingrained. Because of this, many spell it engrain and engrained.

Ingrain means to impress deeply while ingrained means impressed deeply, as in The habit had been long ingrained in Aunt Dawn’s morning ritual.

Because engrain/engrained are increasingly used, many dictionaries now list it as acceptable variants. Still, their use is rarer than ingrain/ingrained.

Bottom line: Go with ingrain/ingrained until it becomes the rarely used variant of engrain/engrained.