Basal, basil, or Basel

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Basal, basil, and Basel are 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 basal, basil and Basel, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

Basal is an adjective that describes something that belongs to the base of something; for instance, basal cell carcinoma refers to cancer in the base layer of skin cells. The word basal is derived from the Latin word, basis, which means foundation.

Basil is an aromatic herb that is used in cooking. Basil belongs to the mint family and is commonly used in Mediterranean cooking. The word basil is derived from the Greek word, basilikon, which means royal. Basil was purported to have been used in perfume for Greek kings. When capitalized, Basil is a male name.

Basel is the third most populated city in Switzerland; it has been an important cultural center for over 600 years. Note that the name Basel is capitalized, because it is a proper name.


Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer and is typically treated with surgical excision, explained Sarin. (Science Daily)

Researchers writing in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolismreport that basal ganglia calcification of the brain in patients with chronic hypoparathyroidism, may determine the severity of disease in patients with chronic hypoparathyroidism. (Endocrinology Advisor)

For people within the Taiwanese diaspora in the United States, the scent of Thai basil is a reminder of the pungent and spicy basil you’ll find everywhere in Taiwan. (Bon Appetit)

“Basil will make your dog’s dish taste amazing, and it’ll even provide some health benefits because it contains natural antioxidants, which can help with digestion, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the immune system,” said Teresa Milne in “Is Basil Safe For Dogs?” in the Dog Friendly Scene website. (Manila Standard)

The Casa del Habano cigar shop in Basel, Switzerland is now part of Dominique London, a newly formed retail group that controls nearly 20 cigar shops including other La Casa del Habano franchise locations throughout the U.K. and Belgium. (Cigar Aficianado)