‘Carat’ and ‘carrot’

Carat and carrot are, of course, homophones. And this means that phrases such as ’24-carrot gold’ are commonplace. It’s an amusing mistake, but not when someone else finds it in your writing.

CarrotsCarat

  • (or karat) a measure of the purity of gold
  • a unit of weight of precious stones

Carrot

  • tapering root vegetable (often orange in colour)
  • the plant that produces carrots
  • something offered as an incentive or a means of persuasion

My tip: carrots are root vegetables (and they will rot).


Sources:

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

 

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‘Hoarse’ and ‘horse’

I can’t remember ever seeing hoarse used when the writer actually meant horse (e.g. “I’m going to turn out my hoarse”) but it does seem common the other way round (e.g. “sorry, I’ve gone a bit horse”). That’s all the excuse I need to write a post that enables me to use a magnificent image of a magnificent animal.

Hoarse

  • (of a voice) rough, harsh and/or unclear
  • having a rough, harsh and/or unclear voiceHorse in water

Horse

  • a solid-hoofed, four-legged domesticated mammal with a mane and tail
  • a frame or structure used to support or mount something or someone
  • to provide someone or something with a horse (or horses)

My tip: hoarse is often harsh.


Sources:

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

‘Principal’ and ‘principle’

Principal and principle are homophones. I’ve come across principal misused more often than principle, but it’s common to get them both confused. Principle is usually a noun but principal can be an adjective or a noun.

Principal

  • first in order of importance or value
  • lady-justicethe most important or senior person in an organisation

Principle

  • a fundamental truth, proposition, rule or law
  • a moral rule or set of such morals
  • a general scientific theorem or law
  • a fundamental source or basis of something

My tip: principal is spelled with an a, which is the first letter in the alphabet – and a principle is often a rule.


Sources:

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

‘Descent’ and ‘dissent’

Descent and dissent are homophones that may just be a tad topical. It’s definitely worth knowing the difference.

descentDescent

  • the act of moving downwards, falling or dropping; a decline
  • the origin or background of a person (in terms of family or nationality)
  • a sudden attack or unexpected visit (descent on)

Dissent

  • the holding or expression of opinions that differ from those commonly or officially held
  • to hold or express opinions that differ from those commonly or officially held

My tip: to dissent is usually to disagree.


Sources:

‘Role’ and ‘roll’

Mixing up role and roll is a common mistake. Role is a noun, but roll can be a verb or a noun. You can find more comprehensive definitions of roll – I’ve just listed the main uses here (it’s a really long list otherwise) – but mine should give you an idea of the difference between the two words.

Role

  • a task or function

Roll

  • strawberry-caketo move by turning over and over; to rotate
  • to move or run on wheels
  • to turn something over and over to form a ball or cylinder
  • to flatten something
  • to reverberate; a prolonged reverberating sound
  • to appear like waves; to undulate
  • something that has been rolled up to form a cylinder shape
  • a small bread (enough for one person)
  • an official list or register
  • a swaying or unsteady movement

My tip: associate roll with ball (balls roll and you can roll something pliable into a ball) and/or poll (you need to be on the electoral roll to use a polling station).


Sources:

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

‘Allowed’ and ‘aloud’

Allowed and aloud are homophones. It’s a common mistake to use these two in place of each other. (Although I suspect some incorrect uses are because of predictive text functions.) Aloud can be substituted for ‘out loud’; allowed is the past tense of the verb allow.

musicAloud

  • audibly

Allow

  • to permit
  • to set aside
  • to acknowledge or admit

My tip: aloud is audible; allowed is permitted.


Sources:

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

 

‘Foreword’ and ‘forward’

Foreword and forward are often listed as homophones, but whether this is true for your own speech probably depends on regional variations. I pronounce them differently, but I believe that when spoken in some other (particularly American) accents they sound the same.

Foreword

  • an introductory statement to a book

Forward

  • directed, travelling or moving aheadforward-arrow
  • at, in, near or towards the front
  • onward in order to make progress
  • bold, disrespectful or overfamiliar
  • well developed or advanced
  • of or relating to the future or favouring change
  • an attacking player in various sports
  • towards or at a place ahead or in advance
  • to send on to a destination
  • to advance or promote

My tip: a foreword is composed using words.


Sources:

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

‘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)

 

‘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: