Cloth vs clothe

Cloth and clothe are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation and may be considered confusables. Confusables is a catch-all term for words that are often confused in usage. Two words or more than two words may be confused because they are similar in spelling, similar in pronunciation, or similar in meaning. These commonly confused words may be pronounced the same way or pronounced differently or may be spelled the same way or spelled differently, or may have different meanings or have almost different meanings; they may be homophones, homonyms, heteronyms, words that have a similar spelling, or words that have a similar meaning. Confusables often confound native speakers of English, and they may be difficult for ESL students and those learning English to understand. Confusables are misspelled, misused words and may be nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, or any other part of speech. Spelling rules in English are not dependable; there are many exceptions. Often, the best procedure for learning commonly misused words and commonly confused words in English is to make word lists of English words for the learner to study. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake in English vocabulary, so do not rely on spell check but instead, learn to spell and learn the definitions of words. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a confusable in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. Confusables are often used in wordplay like puns. We will examine the different meanings of the confusables cloth and clothe, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

Cloth is fabric; it may be woven or felted and may be made of a natural fiber such as cotton, wool, silk, or linen or a man-made substance such as rayon, polyester, or acrylic. Cloth is also used when speaking about a religious leader. The plural form of cloth is cloths. The word cloth is derived from the Old English word, clāth, probably of German or Dutch origin.

Clothe means to dress oneself or another person or to provide clothing to someone. Clothe is also used figuratively to mean to endow with a certain quality or talent. Clothe is a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are clothes, clothed, clothing. The word clothe is derived from the Old English word, geclāded.


In the early days of the pandemic, many a sweet soul spent socially distanced time churning out cloth masks to help defend family and friends from a deadly new virus that nobody quite understood as it began spreading around the globe. (Sun Journal)

A cloth sheet used to shield part of the Helags glacier in northern Sweden over the summer saved at least 3.5 metres in height from melting, according to organisers of the private initiative, the first of its kind in Scandinavia. (Reuters)

Above all else clothe yourselves with love, which is the perfect bond of unity. (National Herald)

A single nan cries every night as she struggles to feed and clothe her five grandkids who her daughter can no longer care for. (Liverpool Echo)

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