Confusable Homophones

The following sets of words all have the same (or nearly the same) pronunciation but differing spelling and meaning. There are several examples of the last spelling rule I listed in my last post.

  • aether (air) / ether (chemical)
  • better (more good) / bettor (one who bets)
  • bogy (monster) / bogie (truck) / bogey (golf score)
  • bologna (meat) / baloney (nonsense)
  • caddie (carrier) / caddy (container)
  • carat (jewel weight) / karat (gold purity)
  • chimera (composite creature) / chimaera (fish)
  • curb (control) / kerb (street edge)
  • daemon (spirit) / demon (evil creature)
  • dialogue (conversation) / dialog (computer message)
  • disc (round, flat object) / disk (magnetic storage)
  • dough (food element) / doe (deer) / d'oh (exclamation)
  • draught (pulling) / draft (plan)
  • high (elevated) / hi (greeting)
  • low (not elevated) / lo (exclamation)
  • metre (unit) / meter (machine)
  • might (power) / mite (bug)
  • mould (shape) / mold (plant life)
  • mucus (noun) / mucous (adjective)
  • plain (regular, flat land) / plane (airplane, 2D region)
  • programme (planned sequence) / program (computer routine)
  • rhyme (speech sound) / rime (frost)
  • right (entitlement, correct) / rite (tradition)
  • sack (bag) / sac (membrane)
  • story (narrative) / storey (level)
  • theatre (system) / theater (building)
  • tire (grow weary) / tyre (rubber wheel)
  • tonne (metric) / ton (US standard)
  • vice (sin) / vise (tool)
  • yuck (disgust) / yuk (laughter)

English has many, many more homophones that I won't get into here. I've limited myself to just the homophones that are easily (and often) mixed up. For a more complete list, check out Wikipedia's articles here and here or this book.

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At February 4, 2009 4:32 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...
Homophones are extraordinary!
I think homophones increase the importance of the things/concepts they reference by increased usage (repettition strengthening & increasing number of neural pathways?!). I'd say homophones at least reflect the importance of the concept. There maybe some balancing of +ve & -ve things/concepts relating to base emotions (eg. fear, anger, desire, lust, friendship) and body parts/appearence/the SELF. Maybe they cast a 'spell' on us!
Cheers, PrivateSi

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