Few vs. Phew

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Few and phew are two words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have very different meanings. They are homophones. We will examine the meanings of the words few and phew, where the words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Few means not many, a small number. The word few may be used as an adjective, a pronoun, a noun or a determiner, which is a word or phrase placed before a noun that gives the noun context, clarifying what or who is being referenced. The word few is derived from the Old English words fēawe and fēawa, which mean not often, a small number, not many.

Phew is an exclamation that may be used to indicate having smelled something unappealing or rancid. Phew may also be an expression of being overheated or exhausted, or as a sign of relief. The word phew is an onomatopoeic word, which is a word based on a sound related to the meaning of the word. The exclamation phew is documented to have been used as far back as the 1600s, though it is safe to assume that it has been in use for much longer.


Here is some helpful information and tips for homeowners who on a few occasions may find invaders in and around the homes. (The Alamagordo Daily News)

In keeping with the editorial page tradition of offering advice whether anyone asks for it, The Commercial Appeal welcomes 2017 with a few suggested New Year’s resolutions, particularly for the public entities we usually pick on — and beginning at the top. (The Commercial Appeal)

Phew, what a scorcher: Why we Brits are so intoxicated by heatwaves (The Telegraph)

So he issued a statement saying that he had withdrawn his police report (well phew! for that) and apologized for his “insensitive” decision, pointing out that he has always believed in a free press (phew! again). (Malta Today)

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