Aureole vs oriole

Aureole and oriole are are two commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. Homophones are a group of words with different spellings, the same pronunciations, and different meanings. Homophones exist because of our ever-changing English language and are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. It can be difficult to learn how to spell different words that sound the same, and homophones are commonly misused words. Said aloud, the difference is less important, because the words are pronounced the same. The way the spelling and definitions differ can be confusing even to native English speakers when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Proper pronunciation of spoken English may help the listener distinguish between homophones and understand the correct spelling; the words affect-effect are a good example, but the word pairs to, too and two, bridle and bridal, creek and creak, hoard and horde, toed and towed, or horse and hoarse, are indistinguishable from each other and are easily confused and are commonly misused. Pronunciation is usually more ambiguous, as English pronunciation may vary according to dialect, and English spelling is constantly evolving. Pronunciation may change even though the spelling doesn’t, producing two words that are pronounced in the same manner but have different meanings such as night and knight. Phonological spelling and spelling rules do not always work, and most people avoid misspelling 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 threw is derived from the Old English word thrawan, and the word through came from the Old English word thurh. Homophones are confusing words and are commonly misspelled words because of the confusion that arises from words that are pronounced alike but have very different usage and etymology. 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. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a homophone in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. Homophones are often used in wordplay like puns. We will examine the different meanings of the homophonic words aureole and oriole, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

An aureole is a circle of light around someone’s head that signifies an aura or a halo. The depiction of an aureole around a person’s head signifies holiness. An aureole may also be a corona around a sun or a bright light. The word aureole is derived from the Latin word aureola, which means golden crown.

An oriole is an Old World species of bird in the Oriolidae family that is yellow and black and related to starlings. In the New World, an oriole is a blackbird in the Icteridae family and may be yellow and black or orange and black. Interestingly, the word oriole is also derived from the Latin word aureola.


The sun aureole that was an emblem of the Macedonian royal house has been found on statues and pottery in Greece and Troy (built by the Myceneans) adorning the head of the sun god Helios. (The Greek Reporter)

The sun, beginning its descent, caught him and gave him an aureole as in some baroque painting. (The Irish Times)

I observed a yellowish bird that had the body shape of an oriole, and so I watched it for a while through my binoculars. (Detroit Lakes Tribune)

The Bullock’s Oriole is a brilliantly colored songbird that passes through Edmonds in small numbers in spring migration, usually in May. (Edmonds News)

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