Saturday, December 24, 2011

Days & Daze

It's Christmas Eve. And since tomorrow I'll be unable to escape the primordial Land Without Internet, this week's post comes a day early. Consider it an early Christmas gift. Or your fifth Hanukkah gift. Or maybe we're just really late for Diwali.
At any rate, whatever you celebrate, happy holi-

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cent, Scent, Sent

Cent – (n.) a penny, one hundredth of a dollar.
Scent – (n.) a smell, an odor.
Sent – (v.) past tense of send.

*Images not to scale  :)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ant & Aunt

Not to be confused. One communicates mainly by scent. And the other can lift many times its own body weight.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Capital & Capitol

With an A – refers to uppercase letters, an accumulation of available wealth (with some indecipherable Econ 101 definition, I'm sure), or a city which is the seat of a country's or state's government.

With an O – the building itself used by a country's or state's legislative officials.

And don't forget, Capitol must always be capitalized.

"I'm going to take all my capital out of the bank and spend it on a trip to our nation's capital, where I'll write an angrily misspelled protest sign in capital letters and hold it up in front of the Capitol."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rose & Rows

This week a pair of homophones, both of which are also pairs of homonyms. So for each word we have two separate definitions.
Rose –
(n.) the flower which by any other name, I've read somewhere would smell the same.
(v.) past tense of rise.
Rows –
(n.) plural form of row: objects arranged more or less in a straight line.
(v.) third person singular present tense (or something like that) of row: to propel a boat with an oar.

PS, Please no horticulturalists nitpicking the rose plants, OK?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beat & Beet

I have to admit I find the phrase "beat poets" very funny. What did poets ever do to you?? :)
But I think there's a market (pardon the pun) for "beet poets" out there, too.

Friday, November 11, 2011

fan male & to air is human

I recently received this email that just totally made my day. The sender said it was OK to share it with you:
I just wanted to tell you that I very much appreciate your homophones weakly blog. I discovered it while I was looking for decorations for a birthday party. I work with an elderly woman and every year for her birthday we have a homophone bee (although, to be fair, she calls them homonyms. I can't blame her, I think that is what they taught in schools in the 20s and 30s). This year was her 90th birthday and I made prints of your pictures for her and her great grandchildren. English is the children's second language and they are too young to read, so the images really helped. I have never met a person more interested in homophones than this lady. Thank you for blogging something of interest to us. 
And then they went through and highlighted all the words that have homophones – that's dedication! :)
Anyway, I just want to thank everyone for reading this blog every week. It's fun for me, so it's nice to hear that you like it too.

But at the same time, I'm embarrassed to announce that I made a mistake a few months back with Road & Rode. Somehow I left out Rowed. (Seems like every time that pesky biker shows up, he needs three panels.) So here is the corrected image. Not much different, really. But I'm sure we'll all sleep a little bit better tonight now, won't we?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lightening & Lightning

WITH an e – becoming lighter.
WithOUT an e – that stuff that shoots out of the clouds and seems to have a grudge against trees.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Real eyes

Here's a bit of homophonic graffiti a friend pointed out to me recently. A cool message, even if it is also a heavy metal song.
It's making the rounds online, and I'd cite the source if I had all day to track it down. So at least here's a URL that won't take you to a page full of user comments:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Populace & Populous

-ace – (n.) the population of an area. An area's inhabitants.
-ous – (adj.) heavily populated.
A populous place has a large populace.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Raise, Rays, Raze

Raise – lift, build, grow, increase.
Rays – beams of energy.
Raze – tear down.
I suppose I should have drawn a specific skyline so we could get a discussion started. "Whaddaya got against Buffalo, dog?"
Sigh – another opportunity missed. :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ring & Wring

I don't know what the story is here. I guess she said "no."
Or "what took you so long??"

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Band names

Sometimes it's easy: "The Beatles are my favorite band."
Sometimes it's not: "Arcade Fire are mine... IS mine?"
What do you think? Does a band's name refer to its members (plural), or to a unified collective (singular)?
I know, I know, you could argue it depends, but I need an answer:
Are you happier that REM are no longer together, or that REM is no longer together?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Naval & Navel

-al – relating to a navy, ships.
-el – bellybutton.

While we're at it, which do you prefer: "bellybutton" or "belly button"?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

serial commas... again??

Why not? A friend of mine (and therefore a friend of yours) found this perfect explanation of why serial commas are important. AND it's done with an illustration. So I had to pass it along here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Grate & Great

Grate – a gridlike screen, usually of metal. Also, the act of scraping roughly, either literally or metaphorically.
Great – large in number or size. Also, of good quality.

For the record, a pile of grated cheese could never be so great that it would stop being great.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Steal, Steel, Stele

Steal – to take without permission.
Steel – an alloy of iron. Also, to harden one's emotions in preparation for an unpleasant event.
Stele – a commemorative marker, usually taller than it is wide.

So, basically, if you steal the king's flowers, you might have to steel yourself for the possibility of having a sharp piece of steel separate your body from your head. But if it makes you feel any better, maybe someone will erect a stele to remember you by.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Passed & Past

I was tempted to draw Michael J. Fox driving past a younger version of himself in a Delorean, but I didn't want to cause the space-time continuum to collapse.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sundae & Sunday

I always look forward to sharing my Sundae/ys with you here at Homophones Weakly. Wink!
Also, I highly recommend the sundae entry on Wikipedia for some giggles about the disputed origins of the word.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Road & Rode

Our biker from "pedal, peddle, petal" returns!
Remember, automobile enthusiasts and other prisoners of suburbia: Bikes don't obstruct traffic – bikes ARE traffic.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Blew & Blue

I suppose it also would have been accurate to put the word "blows" under both images.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Hoarse & Horse

I love when people say "I'm a little hoarse." Makes me giggle every time.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Miner & Minor

With an E – A person who digs a mine.
With an O – Small in size, significance, etc. A person under the legal age of responsibility. A musical term relating to scales with certain intervals lowered by half steps. Also, a secondary, subordinate educational degree – but that implies the "lesser significance" definition, doesn't it? So I didn't draw anything for that.
(Of course, I suppose the musical "minor" implies that definition as well, with the lowered notes. But I did decide to include that in the picture. Well, what can I say? I'm an illustrator, not a linguist. And definitely not a perfectionist.) :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011


I'm taking a little vacation in a few weeks, and the thought of packing has me wondering: should I use my duffel bag or my duffle bag?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Red, Reed, Read, and... Read

Two pairs of homophones today (reed & read, red & read) which contain an overlapping pair of homographs – words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently (read & read).

To our colorblind friends, sorry for the big gray square up there. (And to our black and white purists, sorry for straying from the format.) I toyed around with some iconic "red" items, but making them black and labeling them red just didn't seem to work as well as simply having a big red square. Luckily "blew/blue" is the only other color homophone I'll have to deal with, so this won't be an ongoing concern.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Baited & Bated

Baited – lured to a trap with the promise of a reward, or the act of having placed that reward in the trap.
Bated – diminished, reduced, basically the same thing as “abated.”
So if we baited the trap with cheese, then everything about the rat is bated – its life is bated, our rat problem is bated, and its breath is definitely bated. Yes, folks, it’s “waiting with bated breath” not baited. (And not “weighting,” for that matter.) It means to hold your breath in excited anticipation, it doesn’t mean your breath smells like cheese. Though you still might consider a mint now and then, for reals.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Serial commas

So hearts momentarily stopped last week during the Great Serial Comma Misunderstanding of 2011. Suffice it to say, the rules have not changed and are as contentious as ever. We all know the arguments for and against it, and we all know to be consistent one way or the other, I'm sure. But it bears asking... are you with serial commas or against them?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

No more serial commas?!

This article put a kink in my day. A moment of silence for the serial comma – except when needed to resolve ambiguity, of course. I'll miss it. What about you?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Loose & Lose

The words this week aren't homophones. But I felt compelled to include them because as I find writers absentmindedly interchanging them, it's become my second-biggest grammatical pet peeve*. These two words are completely different – they have different spellings, different pronunciations, and different meanings. They're simply not related. But what does that matter to the careless writer? They both pass spell-check, don't they?

* In case you're wondering, "must of" is #1.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Moose & Mousse

This was a classic homophone in middle school – when spiked, moussed hair was the shit, and no animal embodied the awkward gangliness of adolescence quite like the knobby-kneed moose.
Of course, mousse is also that whipped treat, not quite ice cream, not quite pudding – the puberty of desserts, if you will.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sole & Soul

On the left, homonyms: sole, sole, and sole – the bottom of a foot or shoe, the fish, and the last remaining item.
On the right, their homophone: soul – something/someone's inner spirit or essence.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Threw & Through

Threw – Past tense of "throw."
Through – In one end and out the other. Also, to complete a task. So, in the picture, the ball goes through the net, and the game is through as the clock runs out.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Facebook misspellings

I was going to ask you all an important question today, but instead I ran across this great link – on Facebook, of course – and had to share it with you:


Funny, yes. But I will ask, do you think correcting spelling is worth it in a context like this? Does it devalue your opinion by taking issue with a person's spelling instead of their meaning? Does pointing out their misspelling devalue their opinion? Is it worth clarifying a post, if you come off like a jerk?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"Pedal" amendment

How embarrassing! I have to come clean: the Pedal & Petal post a couple weeks ago was incomplete.
Apparently spending time outside on the bike and in the garden made the overwhelming presence of capitalism slip my mind. So, to make amends, here is the complete homophone set – Pedal, Peddle, and Petal. Sorry about that!

Hangar & Hanger

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Twitter and language

Hey, what if we widen the scope of this blog a bit, to include some general linguistic discussion every so often? Interested? (Or should I just stick to the illustrations?)

To kick it off, a Facebook friend posted a link to this great video of Stephen Fry discussing, among other things, how Twitter fits into the historical continuum of written communication. (Of course, frankly, he could talk about beige carpet and I'd still find it fascinating.) Now I pass it along to you:

So what's your take on it?
What are your thoughts about texting and other abbreviated forms of writing, and their impact on language?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pedal & Petal

All this spring weather has me thinking of bikes and flowers... in a homophony way, of course.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Discreet & Discrete

A very useful one this week, I think. Discreet and discrete.
-eet – secretive, private, careful.
-ete – separate, distinct, apart.
"We kissed discreetly in the dark, then departed discretely."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Knight & Night

A "knice" easy one this week. Last week's post made some heads hurt... including mine.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Eminent, etc.

Two sets of adjective homophones this week:

Emanant & Eminent
Immanent & Imminent

The two sets are almost homophones of each other, as well. They're easily confused, anyway, so I'm lumping them all together in the picture. I'll define them in the order they appear – not alphabetically today, I'm afraid:

Eminent – High-ranking, important, noteworthy, prominent.
Immanent – Taking place solely in the mind. Also, intrinsically part of something/someone.
Imminent – Soon to occur.
Emanant – Issuing forth, becoming tangible.

"The eminent king was so cruel, his subjects were overcome with an immanent plan to kick his ass at noon – which was imminent. When noon came, they kicked his ass – the plan became emanant."

Now, I ought to mention that there is a noun, Immanant, that should be included here as well. It's some mathematical concept I don't understand and couldn't possibly explain...

...But I can try to incorporate it into the picture.
"The eminent mathematician was so smug when he explained the immanant, the lesser mathematicians were overcome with an immanent plan to kick his ass at noon – which was imminent. When noon came, they kicked his ass – the plan became emanant."


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ate & Eight

Well, at least one of these is spelled the way it sounds. I don't know what happened to the other one.
Ate – finished eating.
Eight – the number 8.
"I tried to eat a dozen hard-boiled eggs, but after I ate eight I decided I never wanted to see another egg again."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Complement & Compliment

Sometimes I wonder how often people realize these are two separate words.
With an E – items or actions that match, are opposites, form a complete unit, or otherwise go hand-in-hand.
With an I – an indication of approval.
“My compliments to the chef for the way this hair complements my soup.”