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. 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 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.
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)