Compress vs compress

Compress and compress  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 compress and compress, where these words came from, and a few examples of their use in sentences. 

Compress (come PRESS) is a verb that means to squeeze or flatten, to make smaller by crushing or constricting. Compress may mean to press two things together. Compress means to reduce the size of something; it may be used in a literal, physical sense or it may be used figuratively–as in to abridge information. A transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object, the word compress is derived from the Latin word, comprimere, which means to press together. Related words are compresses, compressed, compressing, compression.

Compress (COM press) is a noun that means a pad of folded material that is used to absorb bodily fluid, stanch blood flow, or relieve inflammation. A compress is usually made from absorbent material and is often used in surgery and other first-aid procedures. The noun compress is derived from the verb, compress; the plural form is compresses.


The surge began around the time rapper Travis Scott took the stage, when “the crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage, and that caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries,” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said. (Arizona Republic)

Our data technology solutions compress the complex data discovery to insight workflow from countless hours to minutes, saving clients time, energy and budget. (Bakersfield Californian)

Then apply a compress of ice before using an antihistamine cream to address the itching. (Majorca Daily Bulletin)

After long periods of use, they might experience eye soreness, swelling or pain, he said, adding that the best way to alleviate the symptoms is to apply a warm compress to the eyes to stimulate blood circulation and relax the muscles. (Taipei Times)

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