Knob vs nob

Knob and nob are 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 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. 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; the words affect-effect are a good example, but the words to, too and two, or horse and hoarse, 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, 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. We will examine the different meanings of the homophonic words knob and nob, the word origin of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

A knob is a handle on a door, drawer, or other item or a switch that turns on or controls a device such as a radio or television. A knob may be a small, rounded protuberance on any item. Knob may also mean a small hill. The word knob is derived from the old Scandinavian or German word, knobe.

Nob is primarily a British English word that means the head of something, someone who belongs to the aristocratic class, one’s superior. Nob is generally considered an insult. The word nob came about in the 1700s and is presumed to be an abbreviation of the word nobleman.


After 38 years in operation, the Brass Knob, one of the last architectural-antiques stores in the region, is closing. (The Washington Post)

Not only was there hot water but there are foot pedals under the sink to control the water so you don’t even have to turn the knob with your hand. (The Albany Times Union)

“If you’re trying to make your old home look new, doorknobs are one way to do it, and it’s not nearly as costly as painting everything,” says Barbara Schmidt, principal and creative director at studiobystyle. (New York Magazine)

Labour Councillor: Any working class person who votes Tory is a “nob” (Conservative Home)

May says the whole thing will “require thought” and clearly states that, although he thinks Clarkson is a “nob,” he “quite likes working” with the 54-year-old. (Business Insider)

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