What need is there for the English language to include both “affect” and “effect”

I do not know the history of the words affect and effect. I know their use in English, with the words being verbs and nouns respectively, but as a point of curiosity and enthusiasm, I wonder if there is a need to have separate words at all? Is there ever a case where there is … Read more

Polish and polish sort of words

A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning. Is there a name for two words with the same spelling but with different meanings? For example: Polish (someone from Poland) and polish (rubbing something to make it shiny). Answer Here is a graphic showing the various relationships: … Read more

Two distinct given names that have the same pronunciation?

Are there any two distinct given names that have the same pronunciation? There are many such among, for example, Japanese-language and Chinese-language given names. I wonder if there are any in English/Western given names. P.S. But let’s exclude cases where one is a shorthand or a “variant spelling” of, and hence somewhat closely related to … Read more

an unheared missing word

Somewhere, I have heard a sentence similar to: The main problem is the plagiarism exosinated by the Internet. Instead of the meaningless bold word, what English similar word will make sense? Answer I suspect the word you’re looking for is exacerbate: exacerbate VERB [WITH OBJECT] Make (a problem, bad situation, or negative feeling) worse. ‘the … Read more

Term for wordplay where a new spelling is made up for an existing word

I am familiar with homographs and homophones (and homonyms), but there is a different type of "word play" or "spelling play" I’ve seen come up as of recently that I’m trying to find out if there is a name for. Or if one for it simply just doesn’t exist. There’s a few examples I could … Read more

Are “whores” and “horse” homophones?

I’m Spanish but sometimes see TV shows in English. My question is whether the words horse and whores sound exactly the same, because in many English language TV shows it seems like they are, which really surprises me. Are they homophones? I cannot hear any voicing at the end of the word whores to distinguish … Read more

What is the history behind “raze” and “raise” (two words that sound the same but mean nearly opposite things)?

How did the English language come to have two words, “raze” and “raise” that mean practically opposite things, but sound the same? Merriam Webster definitions Raze: to destroy to the ground Raise: to cause or help to rise to a standing position I’m not aware of any other words in the English language that are … Read more

Are “dual” and “duel” necessarily homophones?

The pronunuciation of the words dual and duel is generally given in dictionaries as /ˈd(j)uːəl/. Thus the two words are homophones. However, saying these words to myself, I think I detect a slight difference. For me (a native speaker from the northeastern US), duel is more like /du:l/. That is, it would rhyme with fool … Read more

Why g in gel sounds as j

Gel and jel are homophones, but why g sounds as j in that case (and similar words as gelatin)? Is it related to word origin? Borrowed from French gélatine (“jelly, gel”), from Italian gelatina (“jelly, gel”) It was decided to support both options as French/Italian? Answer A general guideline is that "g" is sometimes soft … Read more