Bread vs bred

Bread and bred are two commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way when spoken aloud but are spelled differently and mean different things, which makes them homophones. Homophones exist because of our ever-changing English language, and are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. The way the spelling and definitions differ can be confusing when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Proper pronunciation of spoken English may help the listener distinguish between homophones; the words affect-effect are a good example, but the words to, too and two, or horse and hoarse, are indistinguishable from each other. 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. 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, 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. We will examine the definitions of the two homophonic words bread and bred, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Bread is used as a noun to mean a back product consisting primarily of flour, water and yeast or another leavening agent. Bread is also used figuratively to mean something that is necessary to life, or to mean money. The verb to bread means to cover something in crumbs before cooking it, usually before frying or baking it. Bread is a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are breads, breaded, breading. The word bread is derived from the Old English word brēad.

Bred is the past and past participle form of the verb breed, which means to mate animals in order to produce offspring, to cause to reproduce, or to rear and train offspring. Bred is an intransitive verb, or a verb that does not take an object. Related words are breed, breeds, breeding. The word bred is derived from the Old English word bredan, which means to procreate.


Don’t be put off thinking the process of making bread is hard and laborious – this one is not at all.  (The Guardian)

Kervin Aroita, general manager for Avarua Bakery, said prices for bread will rise as costs for wheat have increased. (Cook Islands News)

Owned by Philip Wood and Jim Hailey, Eddie Haskell, who was bred in California by Reddam Racing LLC and is out of their Boston Harbor mare Teresa Ann, was making his first graded stakes appearance and picked up $60,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $453,107. (The Paulick Report)

However, if heifers are not able to be bred early due to mud, breeding at the same time as the mature cows will work but rebreeding as a 2 year old may be more challenging.  (Drovers Magazine)

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