Sunday, December 29, 2013

Mandrel & Mandrill

-el – a tool component used to clamp moving parts of the tool itself or the item being worked upon.
-ill – a species of brightly colored primates, the largest of the monkeys.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Mantel & Mantle

-el – A covering, often decorative, surrounding a fireplace. A great place to hang socks full of chocolate.
-le – This one has a lot of definitions, including: the layer of the earth between the core and the crust, and apparently some kind of cape-like cloak. But it's also a verb that describes the very act of cloaking something or concealing it. So, technically, you mantle your fireplace with a mantel. So that's not confusing at all.
Happy holidays!

And, for the sports fans:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Board & Bored

As in, "I just can't concentrate on this meeting."

As in, "I put a hole through this plank."

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Desert & Dessert

This pair of words is a little more complicated than most here at HW, because half the time they aren't homophones at all. Desert has two distinct definitions and pronunciations, only one of which is pronounced like Dessert (de-ZURT). So, technically, we have three words here: two of which have the same spelling but different pronunciations (homographs), and a third that is a homophone of one of the homographs. Sheesh, sorry about that. Anyway, you can see that no matter which definition you intend, it's always a challenge making sure it's spelled correctly.
The trick I was taught to remember is that Dessert has two Ss instead of one because it's the only one you want MORE of. But this trick only holds up until you've eaten pumpkin pie, at which point the sentence "I wish I could desert this dessert in the desert" leaps to mind.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bolder & Boulder

An old post gets a second life! (I'm either bolder than usual this week, or lazier.)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Locks & Lox

Locks – chambers for raising and lowering ships to different levels of a waterway. Or devices used to secure a storage container. (Notice these are plural nouns. But "locks" is also a present tense verb form for using a lock.)
Lox – brined salmon. (Notice this is a singular noun, and I don't believe it has a plural form. Lox can be measured in plural amounts or pieces or varieties, etc. But as far as I can tell you can't have "loxes." I could be wrong here, of course.)
As in, "The captain locks the lox in a box using locks, until the ship is through the locks." A perfectly logical sentence.
By the way, I would have posted this earlier in the day, honestly, but I started drawing and then was like, "oh my god I have to go buy some bagels and lox right now." #soimpressionable

Also, please note I didn't include the word "lochs," because although it's fairly common in certain English usage (well, pretty much "Loch Ness monster" and nothing else), the word isn't actually English. So I didn't include it. Anyway, it's Gaelic for "lake."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pole & Poll

Seeing this now, it suddenly looks like a Get Out The Vote ad.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Plain & Plane

Two separate images today, to accommodate multiple definitions.
-ain – 1: (adj.) simple, unadorned. 2: (n.) grassy field.
-ane – 1: 2-dimensional surface. 2: abbreviation for airplane.

(If I had made that second cake a wedding cake, I suppose I could have dedicated this post to my friends Rachel & Chris, whose marriage commences today! Instead, in their honor, I'll look back at a few previous wedding-themed posts.)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Paced & Paste

As in, "I paced worriedly when I realized I had eaten the rubber cement instead of paste."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Feat & Feet

ea – (n.) An achievement that requires great skill or strength.
ee – (plural n.) Those standy-walky things on the ends of your legs. Or units of measure equivalent to twelve inches.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Continence & Continents

Another -ence vs -ents homophone this week:
-ence – (n.) Let's just call it "the ability to hold it in."
-ents – (plural n.) The big chunks of land floating around the earth.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Correspondence & Correspondents

-ence – (n.) Remote communication (usually written) between two or more people.
-ents – (plural n.) The people doing the communicating.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Weak & Week

My apologies to any latter-day Mayans out there who don't recognize the image on the right as a calendar.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Waist & Waste

As my lovely wife Vanessa put it, "Some people waste away to get a smaller waist."

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Wade & Weighed

I'll be surprised if I Wade through my emails tomorrow and no one has Weighed in on the fact that I've basically used the same drawing of the scale for two weeks in a row... :)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Precede & Proceed

Precede – take place ahead of something/someone else.
Proceed – advance, move forward.
First you wait for everyone who precedes you in line, then you proceed.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Their, There, They're

OK, I'm finally tackling one of the dreaded apostrophe homophones. Took two years to build up the courage... and think of appropriate illustrations. And I'm still not 100% sure I nailed it. Leave a comment, I really want to know what you think of this one.
I figure a tandem bike implies dual ownership – Their bike, rather than his or hers – even if they aren't pictured. (Besides, the fewer times I show them, the fewer times I can be accused of implying that They're doing something in that panel.)
The next one seems pretty self-explanatory to me. The rider is pointing to the bike – There it is.
Finally, They're riding it. Yes, they are.
I dunno. Works for me. What about you?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

"Pique" amendment

A couple weeks ago I made the egregious error of omitting "pique" from Peak & Peek. Consider this little striptease my apology. I hope it piques your interest... in grammar!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Might & Mite

Might can be a noun referring to strength, but can also be an auxiliary verb expressing possibility. The guy on the left is showing his might. The guy on the right might, but might not; he's still deciding.
A mite is a tiny little arachnid, but can also generally refer to anything tiny.
"Since many mites are parasitic, it might be wise to not doubt their might."

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Hay & Hey

Next time your teacher/parent/parole officer tells you, "Hey is for horses," you send 'em a link to this site and explain that there is a clear and accepted spelling difference between the two. :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Peak & Peek

If I could take a peek at the peak of my career, I wonder if I would be looking into the past or the future...

Update: Please accept my humble apologies for forgetting to include "pique." Let's fix that mistake right here.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Leak & Leek

With an A – undesirable drip.
Double E – desirable vegetable.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Thyme & Time

Now I just need homophones for parsley, sage, and rosemary. And Garfunkel.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Flea & Flee

-ea – parasitic insect.
-ee – run away!
As in, "Run away from the parasitic insect!"

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Marten & Martin

With an E – small carnivorous mammal, a member of the weasel family.
With an I – small insectivorous bird, a member of the swallow family.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bundt & Bunt

With a D – ring-shaped cake with ridges that make it easy to slice, but a pain in the ass to draw.
Without a D – gently hit a pitched baseball short and into the ground.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

guest post – Madder & Matter

We've discussed the lazy American T before, and how it creates homophones on this side of the pond that would never be considered homophones in the old world. Since I have as much respect for UK English as I do US, it's a subset of homophones I don't plan to explore fully here at HW. Heard one, heard 'em all, as far as I'm concerned.
I am a sucker for a kid's blossoming interest in literacy. And illustration. So when my son insisted I should illustrate Madder and Matter, then decided he could do a better job of it himself, I was happy to let him.
As guest posts go here at HW, this is the first time I haven't even modified the guest's image. I couldn't think of a concise way to fit it neatly into my style rules, and my boy wouldn't let me think about it for a few more weeks. So I present it to you as he explained it to me. On the left: a mad dude and an even madder dude. On the right, someone asking those two dudes "what's the matter?" – and also a drawing of water in its three states of matter. :)
Thanks for the help this week, Harrison!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

shameless self-promotion

Sorry to bug y'all like this, but the Kickstarter campaign for my comic book series (with a homophone title, no less) Woodstalk: 3 Days of Peace, Music, and Zombies could use your help in the next, oh, 36 hours or so. If you're feeling generous, any little bit helps.

Whirled, Whorled, World

Whirled – (v.) spun around in circles, past tense of Whirl.
Whorled – (adj.) describes a circular or spiral pattern, especially in nature.
World – (n.) something we seem singularly focused on using up and destroying, despite the fact that we have nowhere else to go.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Rain, Reign, Rein

ai – "not enough sense to come in out of the–"
eig – what Roger Daltrey wanted Love to do o'er him. This is indicative of ruling or being in control.
ei – this one refers to the little straps used to control a horse while riding it.
The fact that both of the second definitions refer to being in control of something has led to confusion about which spelling to use in the phrases "free rein," "full rein," and "rein in." These phrases describe the amount of control a person has over a situation. But they don't describe that control directly; they describe the application of that control. They speak to the person applying the control, not the person receiving it. It's not that you receive the ability to reign over a situation, it's that you are using figurative reins to oversee the amount of control a person has. "Rein" is the correct spelling for each of those phrases, even if I've done a terrible job explaining it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

All & Awl

As in "There are many different types of awls, but they all do the same thing as a sharp stick."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Brewed & Brood

It wasn't until I had finished drawing the chicks in the nest that I remembered brood has a second definition. Not only does it mean a group of offspring raised at the same time, it also means to contemplate, ponder, or worry. Which, if you ask me, seems like the same thing.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

To, Too, Two

I almost missed it, but this month marks the second anniversary of Homophones, Weakly! To celebrate, I figured I should finally get around too To, Too, and Two. With special thanks two everybody who has suggested it over the years. Sorry it took me so long.

Hmm, maybe this one is clearer? Now I'm just second-guessing myself. (eh? eh? second guessing?) :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Resinate & Resonate

With an I – treat with resin, e.g., trapping an ant in amber.
With an O – emit/amplify sound or some other vibration.
"The children's horrified screams resonated throughout the museum when they saw that exhibit of resinated human bodies."
Thanks to Abe for (sort of) suggesting this one.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lice & Lyse

Lice – (n.) plural form of "louse."
Lyse – (v.) to rupture a cell through the process of lysis.
Did I mention that I'm also a scientific illustrator? :)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Meatier & Meteor

I had this whole storyline going, with a dinosaur eating another dinosaur then noticing something falling from the sky... but I just couldn't make it work. Then I wanted to have a meteor shooting through the sky, followed by a MUCH larger one, a meatier one... but that didn't work because I always do these pairs alphabetically, so Meatier had to come first. (Rules is rules.)
So it's a pretty straightforward pair of images for you today, lacking in the humor, depth, and nuance you've come to expect from the Internet.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Leader & Liter

Ah, the lazy American T. Responsible for so many homophones. Bid and Bit would never be pronounced the same here, but Bidder and Bitter often are. Wade and Wait – two distinct pronunciations. Waded and Waited – let's just say them the same, why not?
Here's an interesting little description of the tongue tap that we (and apparently Australians) are so fond of. UK English speakers apparently wouldn't hear these words as homophones at all. Which is just as well; when we say "take me to your leader," they'll know exactly what we mean.