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Buffet vs buffet

  • Buffet and buffet are two words that are spelled identically but are pronounced differently and have different meanings, which makes them heteronyms. These word pairs are often misused words. Heteronyms exist because of our ever-changing English language, and these words with the same spelling and different pronunciation and meaning are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. It can be difficult to learn how to spell different words that look the same but are not pronounced the same, and how to use them in sentences, because they are easily confused. The way the pronunciations and definitions differ can be confusing even to native English speakers when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Phonological spelling and spelling rules do not always work, and most people avoid misspelling and misuse by studying vocabulary words from spelling lists, enhancing their literacy skills through spelling practice, and learning words in English by studying a dictionary of the English language. English words are also spelled according to their etymologies rather than their sound. For instance, the word tear meaning a liquid drop that falls from an eye is derived from the Old English word tear, meaning a drop or nectar; tear meaning to pull apart comes from the Old English word tearan, which means to lacerate. Heteronyms are confusing words and are commonly misspelled words because of the confusion that arises from words that are pronounced differently but are spelled the same and come from a different etymology. They are often used in puns and riddles. When reading, it is sometimes difficult to know which word is being used in a sentence and how to pronounce the word phonetically. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake in English vocabulary, so do not rely on spell check for these commonly confused words but instead, learn to spell. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a heteronym in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. Do not confuse heteronyms with homophones, which are two or more words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings like sow and sew; do not confuse them with homonyms, which are words that have the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings like spring as in spring forth and spring as in the season of the year. Heteronyms are a type of homograph, which is a word that is spelled the same as another word but has a different meaning. We will examine the definitions of the words buffet and buffet, where these words came from, and a few examples of their use in sentences.


     

    Buffet (BUFF it) means to pound, to beat against, to inflict a sequence of blows. Buffet is used as a noun or a verb, related words are buffets, buffeted, buffeting. Buffet may be used either literally or figuratively. For instance, a house may be said to be buffeted by wind. A politician may be said to be buffeted by popular opinion. The word buffet is derived from the Old French word bufeter, which means to inflict blows or to slap.

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    A buffet (boo FAY) is a smorgasbord, a dinner, or meal that is displayed upon a table so that guests may serve themselves. Many gatherings such as weddings or business conferences may offer a buffet as a way to serve a large number of people quickly. The word buffet may also mean a piece of furniture that has a long, flat surface and drawers for storing linens and silverware and is presumably used to serve buffets. The word buffet is derived from the French word bufet, which means sideboard.

    Examples

    Buffeted by strong winds, one boy in particular struggles to stay upright, as they signal the deaths on tiny plastic bugles. (The Financial Times)

    Companies worldwide have been buffeted by actions taken by governments to stem the outbreak of coronavirus infections since they emerged in China, where entire cities have been locked down and factories shut. (The International News)

    On Tuesday, MGM Resorts International announced it will temporarily close the buffets at Aria, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Luxor and Excalibur, effective this Sunday. (The Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    She described a folding chess board being inlaid with mahogany and maple squares, and a built-in oak buffet with panels in a bird of paradise design. (Redlands News)


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