Nay, Ney, or Neigh – Difference & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Let’s just take a moment to explore a trio of words with similar sounds but very different meanings: nay, ney, and neigh. Nay and ney might sound like old terms, but they’re still widely used today. And when you consider their homophone neigh, things can get tricky. So, I’ll explain each term and how you should use them!

Nay vs. Ney vs. Neigh

Nay Ney or Neigh Difference Meaning

Let’s start with the basics, shall we? Nay,” “ney,” and “neigh” are what we call homophones. They sound exactly the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings from one another.

  • Nay: This is another word for no.
  • Ney: I’ve seen it used as a word for no, but it’s actually a Persian flute.
  • Neigh: This is the sound horses make!

Does a Horse Say Nay or Neigh?

Horses don’t technically say a word at all. But the word we use to describe the sound they make is called “neigh.” We refer to this as onomatopoeia, which means it’s a word that sounds just like what it means.

How Do You Spell Neigh?

Easy! If you mean the sound a horse makes, it’s n-e-i-g-h.

Is It Nay or Ney for No?

The spelling you should use for the word “no” is “nay,” not “ney.” “Ney” is actually a Persian end-blown flute.

Origin of the Words Nay, Ney, and Neigh

“Nay” originates from around the 12th century and comes from the Old Norse word “nei,” which means means “not.”

“Ney” is a special kind of flute invented by the Persians about 5000 years ago but was also a surname of a popular French commander Michael Ney in the mid-1700s.

“Neigh,” which you now know is the sound horses make, comes from the Old English word “hnǣgan,” which basically means “to neigh or whinny.”

Examples of Using Nay in a Sentence

Nay Ney or Neigh Difference Meaning 1
  • Nay, I shall not attend the ball tonight without my favorite dress.
  • Nay, thou shalt not take another step or face the wrath of my blade.
  • I will nay be doing any of that.
  • “Do you want to come to the market with me?” she asked. “Nay,” I replied.

Examples of Using Ney in a Sentence

  • He plays the ney so beautifully.
  • The ney is such a strange and simple instrument, but it sounds so lovely.

Examples of Using Neigh in a Sentence

  • The horse let out a loud neigh when he saw me coming close to the fence.
  • My horse, Honey, neighs whenever I come around because she knows I bring treats like carrots.
  • The farm was so quiet; I could hear the neighing of the horses far in the distance.
  • That horse neighed too aggressively; I was too scared to ride it.

Nay or Ney or Neigh?

I know they all sound like silly words, but using old and obscure terms like neigh, ney, or nay in your writing can help add some color and humor. So, now that you understand what each one means, have fun and use them in conversation or whatever writing project you’re working on.