Conker vs conquer

Conker and conquer 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 conker and conquer, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

A conker is a chestnut, which is the shiny brown seed of the horse chestnut tree. The horse chestnut tree is a large, deciduous, flowering tree that provides shade. The plural form, conkers, usually refers to a childhood game performed with these nuts; in the game, children suspend conkers from strings and swing them, attempting to break their opponents’ conkers by striking them. The word conker came into use in the mid-1800s and is derived from a dialectical term that meant snail shell, which was probably based on the word conch, a certain type of shell.

Conquer is a verb that means to take by force, to overcome, to take control, to be victorious. One may conquer a country, or one may conquer one’s fears. The word conquer is derived from the Latin word, conquirere, which means to win. Related words are conquers, conquered, conquering.

Examples

In a letter sent to residents on June 8, 2001 the council deemed the conker-producing trees on Bluebell Road a hazard because they were on a busy road and growing too tall – apparently posing danger to the children collecting conkers underneath. (Norwich Evening News)

When it came to popular pastimes and playground games it was conkers, marbles, and skipping that got grown-ups reminiscing as well as rose-tinted memories of football games among friends and foes on the school playing field. (Rutland and Stamford Mercury)

“If we allow Germany and France to play so selfishly that will feed into a Chinese divide and conquer strategy.” (Daily Express)

It turns out there are some basic rules of physics at play, and you can use them to your advantage in order to conquer the challenge. (Popular Mechanics)

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