Flesh and flèche 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 flesh and flèche, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.
Flesh is the soft part of an animal’s or human’s body consisting of muscle and fat or the pulp of a fruit or vegetable. Flesh is also used figuratively to mean the needs, urges, and moral weaknesses caused by the human body. The word flesh is derived from the Old High German word, fleisk, which means flesh.
A flèche is spire built over the place where a nave and transept on a church meet. The word flèche is a loanword or borrowed word from the French. Loanwords and borrowed words are terms that have been taken from other languages and used as English words and phrases. In French, the word flèche means arrow.
Experts have warned that climate crisis and land-use changes could be creating a conducive environment for flesh-eating leishmania parasites to infect more people in the US. (Independent)
Much of the time it feels as though everything is uphill; as though my flesh hurts just being on my bones. (Irish Times)
Attention is immediately drawn to the baptistery due to the form and details of the thin concrete shells and the flèche, a small spire on the top of the structure, which seems to have dissolved into metallic bars. (Architecture Daily)
The photographs show tremendous flames reaching up into the night sky and the horrifying collapse of Viollet Le Duc’s 1860s flèche (spire), though, fortunately, the statues of the 12 Apostles at its base were removed last week. (The Art Newspaper)