Gallop vs. Galop

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Gallop and galop are 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 hoarse and horse, 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 and 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 gallop and galop, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Gallop is one of the natural gaits of a horse. In the gallop, all four hooves are off the ground at the same time during each stride. Other natural gaits of horses are the walk, the trot, the canter or lope. Any quadruped may be referred to as galloping. Gallop is also used figuratively to describe something that is picking up speed to the point of being out of control. Gallop is used as a noun or an intransitive verb, which is a verb that does not take an object. Related words are gallops, galloped, galloping.

A galop is a lively country dance, popular after the turn of the nineteenth century in the major European capitals. The galop, short for galoppade, was introduced by the Duchesse de Berry. The galop is named for the gallop, the quick gait of a horse. The galop is a forerunner of the polka and the can-can.


How do you know when your democracy is no longer creeping slowly into fascism, but is heading there at a gallop? (The Mountain Democrat)

“I let him loosen up his muscles and then did a lap and a half with a light gallop on the training track,” said Kono via translator Sean Toriumi. (The Paulick Report)

Offenbach’s can-can, the Galop Infernal, was actually intended for a different dance (the galop), but its catchy melody and repetitive fast rhythms meant that it perfectly fitted the newly developing dance. (Country Life)

The girls’ solution is a dance-off, each sailor soloing in turn, to a galop, then a waltz, and finally a danzón. (The Boston Musical Intelligencer)