‘Marten’ and ‘martin’

martenYou might be most familiar with these homophones as a brand of footwear (Dr. Martens) and a common male name (Martin). But if you find yourself writing or reading about wildlife, it is important to know the difference in that context.

Marten

  • a small, weasel-like, omnivorous mammal

Martin

  • a songbird of the swallow family

My tip: a marten looks like a weasel; a martin is a bird.


Sources:

 

‘Peal’ and ‘peel’

It’s nearly Christmas! To celebrate, I offer you some homophones that I have tenuously linked to the season: peal and peel.

bellsPeal

  • a long loud echoing sound (such as that made by bells)
  • to sound with a peal or peals
  • a set of bells
  • a series of changes rung on bells

Peel

  • to remove the skin, rind or outer covering of
  • to come off in flakes
  • to lose parts of an outer layer or covering, usually in strips or small pieces
  • the skin or rind of a fruit (such as that found in mincemeat)

I don’t have a simple mnemonic for remembering this one; if you have any suggestions, please let me know below. I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary, 2009
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online
  • Pixabay (image)

 

‘Ibidem’ and ‘idem’

Ibidem and idem are both Latin words, are both usually printed in italic and are both often found in reading lists, references and bibliographies. They don’t mean the same thing and they should be used in the correct context. Their respective abbreviations are similar and are therefore easy to get muddled up.

two-booksIbidem

Ibidem means ‘in the same place’ but is normally used to mean ‘in the same source’ (such as a book or chapter). It is employed to avoid repeating a reference and it is often abbreviated to ibid. or ib.

Idem

Idem means ‘the same’ but is normally used to mean ‘the same person’. It is used to avoid repeating an author’s name when works by that author are cited in succession and it is sometimes abbreviated to id.

Unless you are an academic or a keen reader of non-fiction, you might not come across ibidem and idem very often. My tip if you do have to use them is to try to associate ibidem with sources that are often books and idem with a person’s identity.


Sources:

  • Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage, 4th edition
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online
  • Pixabay (image)

‘Mnemonic’ and ‘pneumonic’

This post is brought to you thanks to Johanna Levene:

“Next post? Mnemonic vs. pneumonic. Suggested due to my spellcheck’s struggle to spell mnemonic.”

Mnemonic and pneumonic are, as well as being nightmares to spell, frequently used in place of each other. It is also important to note that while most people are familiar with a mnemonic device, it is possible to refer to a pneumonic device (medical equipment used in relation to the lungs).

letterswoodenMnemonic

  • a memory aid or way of remembering something (often an idea association or a pattern of letters)

Pneumonic

  • of or relating to the lungs
  • related to or affected by pneumonia

My tip: a mnemonic helps the memory; pneumonic is about lungs.


Sources:

‘White’ and ‘wight’

I’m jumping on the Halloween bandwagon with this week’s homophones: white and wight. I sometimes read people have been to the ‘Isle of White’ or would like to discuss the actions of the ‘Wight Walkers’ in Game of Thrones.

ghostsWhite

  • the colour (such as that of milk or snow)*
  • pale or light in colour
  • a person or people with pale or light-coloured skin
  • counter-revolutionary

Wight

  • a living being (in archaic usage)
  • a ghost, spirit or other supernatural being
  • a specific shipping forecast area covering part of the English Channel (‘Wight’)

My tip: a wight could be a ghost.

*I’m aware scientists may disagree with referring to white as a colour but it’s acceptable to do so in general usage.


Sources:

‘Moose’ and ‘mousse’

The misuse of moose and mousse is another one of those mix-ups that can be slightly amusing. If I read something like “I ordered a moose for dessert” or  “we photographed a mousse in the wild” I can’t help but play those little scenarios out in my mind (but then I am easily amused).

mooseMoose

  • a large deer with big, flattened antlers (also referred to as an elk)

Mousse

  • a smooth, light dish usually made with cream and egg whites
  • the mass of tiny bubbles on top of a sparkling wine
  • a foamy substance used to style hair or as a cosmetic or skin care product; to style using mousse
  • the emulsion of oil and water after an oil spill

My tip: a mousse is often a dessert.


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary, 2009
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online

‘Leak’ and ‘leek’

This post is inspired by one of my favourite GIFs and probably the only part of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 I can actually remember: “Ahh! There’s a leek in the boat!”. I’ve spent more time rewatching that clip than I care to admit.

Leak and leek are, of course, homophones. The similar spelling means that they are frequently used in place of each other.

Leak

  • a crack or hole that allows the accidental escape or entrance of liquid, gas, radiation, etc.; to allow the accidental escape or entrance of contents through a hole or crack
  • the escaping or entering liquid, etc.
  • a disclosure of secret information; to make secret information public
  • an act or instance of leaking

leekLeek

  • a plant of the onion family with a slender cylindrical white bulb and flat green overlapping leaves

My tip: leeks are green. And if you would like to describe something that resembles a leek, I have just the word: porraceous.


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary, 2009
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online

‘Sail’ and ‘sale’

Sail and sale are homophones. I suspect incorrect usage usually occurs by accident or because the writer is more familiar with one word than the other.

Sail

  • a sheet of material used to catch the wind and move a vessel over waterSail
  • a voyage or trip on a ship or boat; to voyage or travel on a ship or boat
  • to navigate or control a ship
  • to begin a voyage
  • something that resembles a sail (in shape or function)
  • to move along smoothly and rapidly or with confidence

Sale

  • the exchange of goods or property for money
  • an event or period during which goods are sold at reduced prices

My tip: a sale requires money; a sail requires wind.


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online

‘Vial’ and ‘vile’

This post is inspired by my cat. I have several vials of insulin in the fridge for him; they are currently of no use because he is now an ex-diabetic cat. (All fingers and toes crossed he stays that way!) But the long dead and decomposing bird he brought me to celebrate was vile.

DSC03995-BLUEVial

  • a small container or bottle (typically cylindrical) used for holding liquids (usually medicines)

Vile

  • extremely unpleasant or bad

My tip: a vial is a container.

‘Mail’ and ‘male’

This week marks a return to homophones. I find that male is occasionally used when mail would be appropriate. I have borrowed one of the definitions below because I don’t think I can explain it more succinctly.

Post boxMail

  • letters and parcels etc. sent by post
  • to send something by post
  • flexible armour made of metal rings, links or plates

Male

  • ‘of or denoting the sex that produces gametes, especially spermatozoa, with which a female may be fertilized or inseminated to produce offspring’ (Oxford Dictionaries)
  • a male person, plant or animal

Mail is also sometimes used as a short form of email. Unfortunately, I don’t have a simple tip to help anyone who might struggle to use mail and male correctly; if you have a suggestion for a memory aid, please share it below!


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online