Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Grandpa Reminisces about Homonyms He’s Crossed

 

Ever start thinking about a subject and have your brain reply to a thought with an eyeroll and, “Yes, Grandpa, you have told us about that before.” I was thinking about homonyms, never mind why, and thinking how they must be the bane of most writers’ existences. They are certainly mine.

Now, everyone who writes knows to watch for the common combinations. They’re the ones people get berated for most often on Farcebook and Twender. You know the ones: they’re/there/their and your/you’re/yore. (In days or you’re we used that word a lot.) But there are so many more homonyms that writers stumble over. It’s (ooh, another pair: its/it’s) just the way the brain works while we are composing a bit of text. Once we learn to type at a decent speed, the brain starts to go on semi-automatic. Pull the trigger by thinking of a word and the hands type it out. Or they type something like the word out. Usually it is a homophone.

Homonyms come in two types: homophones and homographs. (“Yes, Grandpa, we know.”) Homophones sound alike, but are spelled differently, like the metal “lead” and the action an army officer might do in the past (passed?) tense, “led.” That is opposed to homographs, which are spelled the same, but are pronounced differently. But what really can drive a writer to drink is the homophones that have homographs and vice versa. Like “read” and “read.” These two words are pronounced just like “reed” and “red.” And then there is the truly dreaded combination of desserts/deserts. Desert is actually a pair (or technically a quadruplet) of homographs. There are two related words that have the first syllable accented, such as the Gobi Desert, and there are two words that have the second syllable accented, meaning either one’s deserved reward (just deserts) or the action of getting out of the area and leaving your buds to face the music without you. Then there is the treat we have after a meal, which is spelled “dessert,” but pronounced like the latter pair of “deserts.”

Some of my favorite things that I discovered to my horror that my brain and fingers have misaligned on were typing “clamor” when I meant “clamber” and “climate” when I meant “climb it.” To be fair, the ladder* (heh, heh) was during the Great Climate Hoax of the Twenty-First Century when we heard and saw that word, climate, every day multiple times per day. Have I ever mentioned that before? (“Yes, Grandpa.”)

What are your most troublesome sets of homophones?


* Note to Editors: If you correct this spelling, the joke goes away. Don’t be that editor.

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    This makes up for my not finishing the short story, uh, novella, uh, novel, uh series of books that I started intending to use as May First’s entry in Group Writing.

    • #1
    • May 25, 2020, at 12:44 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor

    There’s great and grate. Sun and son. Wood and would. Road and rode. I could go on for hours, since I’ve goofed with every one of them. I’ll stack up a few and go again.

    • #2
    • May 25, 2020, at 12:47 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    There’s great and grate. Sun and son. Wood and would. Road and rode. I could go on for hours, since I’ve goofed with every one of them. I’ll stack up a few and go again.

    Those are grate!

    • #3
    • May 25, 2020, at 12:48 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. Qoumidan Coolidge

    Raze and raise.

    • #4
    • May 25, 2020, at 12:52 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Britain is a country (well, by some definitions it’s a set of countries under one crown). A resident of the place is called a Briton. The difference in pronunciation is microscopic. 

    I’ve had problems mixing up “averse” and “adverse”, mostly because of the similarities, but also because they both refer to something you shun or shy away from. 

    Chevy makes fenders by putting metal in a mould. But if you leave the seat fabrics out in the rain, they get moldy. 

    • #5
    • May 25, 2020, at 12:55 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. Bob Thompson Member

    Arahant: (ooh, another pair:

    When I got write their I thought eye would sea: pear and pare.

    • #6
    • May 25, 2020, at 12:57 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. Mark Camp Member

    Arahant: Homophones sound alike, but are spelled differently, like the metal “lead” and the action an army officer might do in the past (passed?) tense, “led.”

    Interesting! Wikipedia disagrees with you on this (emphasis and comment mine.)

    A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning [not spelling]. A homophone may also differ in spelling. The two words may be spelled the same, such as rose and rose, or differently, such as carat, and carrot, or to, two, and too.

    (I was taught the same as what Wikipedia says; your definition is one I’ve not heard of before. Not to say there’s only one definition in common use.)

    • #7
    • May 25, 2020, at 12:57 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    You’ve already mentioned “read.” Sometimes I hit it when I’m reading, pick the wrong version in my head, and discover that by the end of the sentence that I have departed controlled flight.

    • #8
    • May 25, 2020, at 12:59 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. Boss Mongo Member

    Hole and whole. I just made that mistake recently, believe it or not. Some kind Samaritan set me straight.

    • #9
    • May 25, 2020, at 12:59 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  10. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Qoumidan (View Comment):

    Raze and raise.

    Better to raise a child than raze a city?

    • #10
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:00 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. Hoyacon Member

    Nobody asked, but I like nouns that are verbs and verbs that are nouns–gorge and gorge, wax and wax.

     

    • #11
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:00 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Arahant: (ooh, another pair:

    When I got write their I thought eye would sea: pear and pare.

    That is a fine triplet with some dialects.

    • #12
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:02 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Bob Thompson Member

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Nobody asked, but I like nouns that are verbs and verbs that are nouns–gorge and gorge, wax and wax.

     

    How about nouns turned into verbs-impact and impact?

    • #13
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:03 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Arahant: Homophones sound alike, but are spelled differently, like the metal “lead” and the action an army officer might do in the past (passed?) tense, “led.”

    Interesting! Wikipedia disagrees with you on this (emphasis and comment mine.)

    A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning [not spelling]. A homophone may also differ in spelling. The two words may be spelled the same, such as rose and rose, or differently, such as carat, and carrot, or to, two, and too.

    (I was taught the same as what Wikipedia says; your definition is one I’ve not heard of before. Not to say there’s only one definition in common use.)

    Well, the homophones such as rose and rose (or desert and desert or desert and desert) don’t cause problems. It’s only the ones with the same pronunciation and different spellings that lead us down the wrong road. But, yes, to be complete, those are also homophones, but they are also homographs. All I care about is the heterographic homophones.

    • #14
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:05 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Percival (View Comment):

    You’ve already mentioned “read.” Sometimes I hit it when I’m reading, pick the wrong version in my head, and discover that by the end of the sentence that I have departed controlled flight.

    Are you ever in controlled flight? You probably need some spinach to correct that. Preferably on a pizza.

    • #15
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:07 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  16. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Hole and whole. I just made that mistake recently, believe it or not. Some kind Samaritan set me straight.

    When you’re digging in that hole, it can get you in a whole lot of trouble.

    • #16
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:08 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Hoyacon Member

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Nobody asked, but I like nouns that are verbs and verbs that are nouns–gorge and gorge, wax and wax.

     

    How about nouns turned into verbs-impact and impact?

    As long as it’s not “Don’t disrespect me.” 

    • #17
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:09 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Nobody asked, but I like nouns that are verbs and verbs that are nouns–gorge and gorge, wax and wax.

    Just as long as you don’t think a verb is a noun when there is a perfectly good noun out there. We could have a serious disconnection over that.

    • #18
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:09 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Arahant (View Comment):
    Well, the homophones such as rose and rose (or desert and desert or desert and desert) don’t cause problems. It’s only the ones with the same pronunciation and different spellings that lead us down the wrong road. But, yes, to be complete, those are also homophones, but they are also homographs. All I care about is the heterographic homophones.

    Is there going to be a test??

    • #19
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:10 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  20. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    You’ve already mentioned “read.” Sometimes I hit it when I’m reading, pick the wrong version in my head, and discover that by the end of the sentence that I have departed controlled flight.

    Are you ever in controlled flight? You probably need some spinach to correct that. Preferably on a pizza.

    Menace.

    • #20
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:11 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  21. Bob Thompson Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Hole and whole. I just made(maid)  that mistake recently, believe it or not. Some kind Samaritan set me straight(strait).

    Plenty of room for mistakes.

    • #21
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:11 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  22. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    How about nouns turned into verbs-impact and impact?

    Oh, Lordy! The problem is often that the noun and verb homographs don’t necessarily have the same meaning. Impact/impact, effect/effect, affect/affect are all examples of that.

    • #22
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:15 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  23. Bob Thompson Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    How about nouns turned into verbs-impact and impact?

    Oh, Lordy! The problem is often that the noun and verb homographs don’t necessarily have the same meaning. Impact/impact, effect/effect, affect/affect are all examples of that.

    Well, what do you expect from a redneck Georgia cracker hillbilly?

    • #23
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:16 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  24. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Is there going to be a test??

    We’d all fail it if there were.

    • #24
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:17 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    Well, what do you expect from a redneck Georgia cracker hillbilly?

    Are you from Georgia? Florida (cracker)? Or Michigan (hillbilly)?

    I expect a lot from Georgians.

    • #25
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:19 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. KentForrester Moderator

    ‘hant, how about this trio?: I, aye, and eye.

    Aye, aye, sir. I have a mote in my eye.

    • #26
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:21 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  27. Barfly Member

    I have a few fairly odd permanent glitches. One is a complex involving the numeral 8 and the capital letter E; it may have happened when I encountered the “there exists” symbol which is a mirror-imaged ‘E’. When counting, I’m very likely to make an error at 88. 

    • #27
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:37 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    ‘hant, how about this trio?: I, aye, and eye.

    Aye, aye, sir. I have a mote in my eye.

    Oh, aye. And then there’s the aye-aye.

    • #28
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:38 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  29. Barfly Member

    Arahant (View Comment):
    All I care about is the heterographic homophones.

    Degenerate.

    • #29
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:39 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  30. Kephalithos Member

    Not quite a crossed homonym, but I once worked with someone who had a habit of saying “blown a casket” — as in, “When Jerry found out that I ate the last scoop of ice cream, he blew a casket!”

    I’ve heard of grave-robbing, but never grave-bombing.

    • #30
    • May 25, 2020, at 1:39 PM PDT
    • 14 likes