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Knit vs nit

Knit and nit are two words that are pronounced in the same fashion but are spelled differently and have different meanings. They are homophones. We will examine the difference in meaning between the words knit and nit, where these words come from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Knit means to interconnect loops of thread, usually wool or cotton, in order to construct something such as a garment. Knit is also used figuratively, to mean to connect or unite disparate things together. Knit may be used as a noun or a verb, related words are knits, knitted, knitting. Knit is one of a category of words that begin with the consonant blend kn, in which the k is silent. The k in words beginning with kn was pronounced in Old English, as these words were taken from German words in which the k was pronounced. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the k sound was dropped. The word knit was derived from the German word knütten, which means to tie or to knot.


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A nit is a small egg or larva of a louse or other parasitic insect. Nits are usually attached to the hair or fur of a host. Also, in British English nit is a word used to mean a fool or an idiot. The word nit is derived from the Old English word hnitu, meaning louse egg.

Examples

The NGO is working with village women to knit the giant jumpers for the elephants housed at its local conservation centre in the holy Hindu town of Mathura. (The Times of Malta)

Schools in East Yorkshire are barely a week into the new school term, and already are warning parents to look out for nits. (The Hull Daily Mail)

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