Aureole vs oriole

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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. 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 maybe 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)

Enjoyed reading about this homophone? Check out some others we covered: