Locks vs lox

Locks and lox are two commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. We will examine the different meanings of the homophonic words locks and lox, the word origin of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

Locks is the plural form of the word lock, which means a mechanism that is used to keep something fastened so that others can not open that thing without a key or combination. Lock is also a noun that means a section of hair, or it may refer to gates that enable ships to pass through a canal. Locks is the present tense, third person form of the verb to lock, meaning to fasten something with a device that prevents others from entering without a key or combination. The verb locks may also be used in a figurative sense to mean to keep someone from participating in a situation. The word lock is derived from the Old English word loc, which means a bolt or fastener.

Lox is smoked salmon made from North American salmon. The term lox is derived from the Yiddish word laks, meaning salmon. Lox is a mass noun, which does not have a plural form.

Examples

The 102-year-old valves, used for flooding and draining the large locks, are the same kind used for the construction of the Panama Canal. (The Seattle Times)

Two local school districts are among those which will install new door locks, surveillance cameras and crisis alert systems thanks to more than $7 million in state grants announced last week. (The Gloucester Daily Times)

Woodford’s Smaller Fund Locks Out Investors as Firm Shutters (Bloomberg News)

If you said “Jewish food” you were talking about bagels, lox, gefilte fish, brisket, pickles and chicken soup with kreplach. (Haaretz)

For lovers of smoked salmon, the New York Times featured an alarming headline last week: “Do Lox and Other Smoked Fish Increase Cancer Risk?” (Forbes Magazine)