Knap vs. Nap

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Knap and nap are two words that are pronounced in the same manner, but are spelled differently and have different meanings. They are homophones. We will examine the difference between the words knap and nap, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Knap means to shape a rock by striking or hammering it, specifically flint, chert or obsidian rock. Knapping flint or other rocks results in various tools and weapons through flaking. Evidence of knapping purportedly dates back millions of years. The word knap may also mean the sound made by knapping. Finally, a knap may mean the top of a hill. Knap is used as a noun or verb, related words are knaps, knapped, knapping, knapper. The word knap is supposed to have come from the German word knappen, which means crackle or crack.

Nap may mean a brief, light period of sleep or the act of participating in a brief, light period of sleep. Nap may also mean the direction in which the threads of a fabric or the hairs of a hide lie or the raising of those threads or hairs through brushing. Nap may be used as a noun or a verb, related words are naps, napped, napping, napper. The origin of nap to mean a brief, light period of sleep is the German word hnappian, which means to doze. The word nap meaning the direction in which threads of fabric or hairs of a hide lie is derived from the German word noppe which means tuft of wool.


Making the task harder, the novice butchers were using tools that they had knapped themselves out of obsidian, basalt, and flint. (The Atlantic)

A properly knapped blade could kill a cave bear, carve up a mammoth or trim out an elk hide to make practical clothing. (The Alaska Dispatch News)

But some people are convinced that drinking a coffee before a nap gives you an extra zap of energy when you wake up. (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Then brush the surface overall with a velvet lint brush to lift the nap and restore the suede’s rich texture. (The Huffington Post)

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