Tag Archives: homonyms

Crazy English

Thanks to my friend Nicki for sending this to me.

In case you didn’t realize English is a crazy language:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture..

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?


Filed under All things having to do with the English language

Peek, Peak, Pique

Peaks in the Mist © Judi Birnberg

Peaks in the Mist
© Judi Birnberg

These three words all sound alike but are often misused.

PEEK means to sneak a glance, usually furtively. Adam peeked in the attic where the Christmas presents were stored.

PEAK is the apex of something: the top of a mountain, a gable on a house, the points on egg whites when they are whipped hard.

PIQUE as a noun is a feeling of annoyance, especially if one’s pride or honor is insulted.

PIQUE as a verb means to stimulate interest: A review of Ian McEwan’s latest book, Nutshell, piqued my interest in reading it. It is an achingly clever novel narrated by a full-term fetus (unnamed, but obviously a modern-day Hamlet, whose mother is Trudy, father is John, and doltish uncle and Trudy’s lover is Claude).


Filed under All things having to do with the English language

Look-Alikes and Sound-Alikes, Part 3


I am so grateful to you wonderful people who keep sending me suggestions for this topic. Here goes Part 3:

FOUL vs. FOWL: Can you believe a reader caught someone writing about “fowl language”? Those roosters can be so crude!

ELUDE means to get away from, to avoid: It’s hopeless to try to elude a police officer behind you flashing the lights.

ALLUDE means to refer to something without specifically stating it:
Jacob alluded to the fact that his wife hates action movies, although she still goes with him to see the latest smash-em-up.

CONSCIENCE is your sense of right and wrong.

CONSCIOUS means you are awake and alert, able to think.

HEAR is what you do with your ears. It is also used in the phrase, “Hear! Hear!” (I often see this written as “Here! Here!” and I want to yell, “Where? Where?”)

HERE refers to location.

LATER refers to a time after one previously mentioned or understood. It contains the word “late.”

LATTER refers to the second of two or the last of a group mentioned: Larry has been divorced twice, but is on good terms with the latter of his two wives.

PERSONAL means private: Your personal information should not be disseminated on the Internet.

PERSONNEL refers to a group of people who work for an organization: Our personnel are very compatible and freely help each other. It also is used for the office that keeps records for an organization, i.e., the Personnel Office.

Realize that none of these words will trigger a highlight from your spellchecker. It still is up to you to proofread everything, slowly and quietly out loud, to make sure you have typed the word you want. As I frequently mention, if you proofread silently at your normal speed, chances are you will read what you think you wrote, not what you actually wrote.

Leave a comment

Filed under All things having to do with the English language

More Look-Alikes and Sound-Alikes


Last week I posted a list of similar words with different meanings. Many of you let me know you wanted more, so here goes:

FORTH means onward or forward: Brianna set forth from her apartment, not knowing what to expect from the blind date at Starbucks.
FOURTH has within it the number four, containing its meaning.

DESSERT. Yummy. Hard to resist. Mmmm. Strawberry shortcake.
DESERT as a noun means a sandy, dry area. As a verb, with the accent on the second syllable, it means to abandon or leave behind. Do not desert your best friend in her hour of need.

COMPLEMENT completes something: A glass of beer is not the perfect complement to a piece of strawberry shortcake. Her sweater complements her green eyes.
COMPLIMENT means praise: Why is it difficult for so many people to accept a compliment?

A LOT is a piece of land you can build on. It also means “many” or “much.” There is no such word as “a lot.”
ALLOT means to parcel out or distribute. I told my children I would allot them two pieces of Halloween candy each day.

MINER is a person working in a mine.
MINOR means lesser or not particularly important: It’s hard to believe Van Gogh was once considered a minor artist. If you are a minor (less than legal age), you cannot buy alcohol in your state.


Filed under All things having to do with the English language

Principal vs. Principle

Despite having the two meanings hammered into us since grade school, many of us still have to stop and think which one we need:

PRINCIPAL means the head of an organization, such as a school.  We all know “the principal was our pal.”  (I knew one who wasn’t, but I digress.)  It means anyone who plays a main or leading role.

Principal also means the main amount of money.  You earn interest on the principal.

PRINCIPLE means a standard or rule:  we hope most people live by principles that will benefit not only themselves but others as well.


1 Comment

Filed under All things having to do with the English language

Capitol or Capital?

English: The western front of the United State...

English: The western front of the United States Capitol. The Neoclassical style building is located in Washington, D.C., on top of Capitol Hill at the east end of the National Mall. The Capitol was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you get confused about which of these homonyms you need? Here are the differences:

CAPITOL refers to the actual building of state: “The governor entered the Capitol to deliver her annual State-of-the-State report.”

The Capitol in Washington, DC is the seat of the US Congress.

CAPITAL has several meanings:

It refers to the city or town that is the seat of government. “Sacramento is the capital of California.”

It also means the place associated with a particular product or activity: “Salzburg is the capital of festivals devoted to Mozart’s music.”

Capital also refers to the money a person or group has to invest: “Getty’s capital has funded several museums.”

Then there are capital letters, which are not recommended for e-mails, except for their commonly accepted uses; OTHERWISE, YOU WILL COME ACROSS AS A SCREAMER, AND WE WOULDN’T WANT THAT, WOULD WE?



Leave a comment

Filed under All things having to do with the English language