Packs vs pax

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Packs and pax 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 packs and pax, the word origin of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

Packs is the plural form of the noun pack. A pack is a small container that contains items such as cigarettes or playing cards, an amount of documents or foodstuffs packaged together, a group of animals that lives and hunts together, or a carrying container like a backpack or bag. The noun pack is derived from the thirteenth century words pak and pake, meaning a bundle of cloth or goods. Packs is also the third person singular form of the verb pack, which means to carry something, to place things in a suitcase or bag for travel, to store something away, to cram filling or stuffing around something. The verb packs is derived from the fourteenth century word pakken, which means to bundle something up. Related words are pack, packed, packing.

A pax is a tablet decorated with sacred symbols that is kissed during the Catholic Mass. Pax is also the name of the Kiss of Peace performed during a Catholic Mass. Finally, pax is often used to mean a period of peace imposed by a civilization, such as the Pax Romana. The word pax is a Latin word and means peace.


A thief had rummaged through the vehicle after 6 p.m. Tuesday and took eight packs of cigarettes valued at $3.96 each. (The Fergus Falls Daily Journal)

But when the National Park Service last year began an effort to relocate new wolves to Isle Royale to restore predator packs in the face of a fast-rising moose population, some scientists knew those wolves’ days could be numbered. (The Duluth News Tribune)

Later, Carla accidentally lets the secret slip to a devastated Nina who packs her bags and rushes out of the flat. (The Sun)

Historically, it was the beginning of Pax Romana, the Peace of Rome, which lasted 270 years. (The Leader & Times)

The Pax Americana is ending as power shifts to China and other rising states and the US grows ever more reluctant to assume global leadership. (The Financial Times)