Need vs kneed

Need and kneed are commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings, 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, and homophones are commonly misused words. Said aloud, the difference is less important, because the words are pronounced 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 and understand the correct spelling; the words affect-effect are a good example, but the word pairs to, too and two, bridle and bridal, creek and creak, hoard and horde, toed and towed, or horse and hoarse, are indistinguishable from each other and are easily confused and are commonly misused. 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. Homophones are often used in wordplay like puns. We will examine the different meanings of the homophonic words need and kneed, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

Need may be used as a verb to mean to lack something, to be in want of something, to require something. Need may be used as a noun to mean the state of feeling the lack of something, the state of requiring help, something that is lacked or something that is required. Related words are needs, needed, needing, needy. The word need is derived from the Old English word, neodian, which means require or need.

Kneed is the past tense of the verb knee, which simply means to hit someone with one’s knee. Related words are knees, kneeing. Kneeing someone in a vulnerable area is a good method of defense for victims who are generally weaker than their attacker. Until the 1800s, the verb knee meant to kneel; by the 1890s, the verb knee came to mean to strike someone with one’s knee.


To calculate the percentage of people who need to be immune from a virus in order to reach herd immunity, all you have to know is the virus’ basic reproduction number — its R0 (pronounced R-naught). (Colorado Sun)

“Alert level 3 was effective in containing the August outbreak, but it’s likely we would need to use level 4 to have the same effect on the new variant.” (New Zealand Herald)

During the interrogation the cyclist maintained his claim that he had not kneed the girl on purpose and the he did not know that he had hit her, according to Clérin. (Brussels Times)

A former North Las Vegas police officer charged with battery kneed a suspect in the face after the man was in handcuffs, breaking the man’s jaw, according to an arrest report. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

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