The English language has many words that sound or look the same but have different meanings and uses. This can be very confusing for English language learners and native speakers.
Homophones, words that sound the same but have different meanings, are particularly confusing and, when used incorrectly, can confuse your readers.
Piece and peace are very good examples of common homophones many people get mixed up. Let’s look at what each word means, how to remember their spelling, and how to use each in a sentence.
Piece vs. Peace: What’s the Difference?
As explained above, homophones describe two or more words that sound the same but have different meanings. They can be spelled differently or spelled the same. Homophones are also called homonyms when the words are spelled the same, sound the same, and have different meanings.
Piece and peace are homophones but are not considered homonyms because they have different spellings.
Piece can be used as a noun or verb and is defined as a section of something larger. Peace is a noun and is generally described as a state of calm. It also can be used as an adjective or interjection.
Piece Spelling and Use
As a noun, piece means a portion of something, an individual portion or section of a larger item or set of things. It also may mean a financial portion, an artistic composition, a game marker in a board game, or in North America, a firearm.
- When we play Monopoly, my favorite game piece is the top hat.
- She submitted her largest painted piece to the art gallery and won the most original works award.
- I received my piece of the retirement fund after the courts finalized our separation.
- Be sure to clean your piece before we head to the firing range tomorrow. You really should have done that after you last went shooting.
- Save me the last piece of pumpkin pie! It’s my favorite!
Piece is also used in a derogatory manner to describe another person, either in a sexual manner or as a put-down.
- That girl is a real piece of work. She lied about her job experience, and it was also rumored she had a relationship with the hiring manager before she got the job.
- He was disrespectful, bragging about how he got a piece of her last night.
Used as a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object, piece means to assemble something by putting its parts together or patch something together from various pieces.
- We pieced together the go-cart engine after finding all the parts we needed in the garage.
- We were able to piece together the broken vase using specialized ceramic glue.
Origin of Piece
Piece has an interesting history; its use is well-known and varied in its meanings throughout the centuries.
Piece originated as a noun in the 11th century from Old French piece, meaning “bit portion, item, or coin.” At the time, it was used as pece to describe a measure or portion of something. By the 12th century, it was used as a fragment of an object, a bit of a whole, or a separate section or part.
It can also be traced back to the 12th-century usage in vulgar Latin, pettia, meaning “a person or individual,” also related to Latin scortum, which means “skin,” and is used to describe “anyone available for a price.”
It is used to give somebody a “piece of their mind” and came into play during the mid-14th century to describe a period of time. Piece as “a coin” came into use during the 15th century. It was used to describe a portable firearm, chess piece, or literary composition during the mid to late-16th century.
Piece was used as a verb as early as the 15th century as pecen, meaning to “mend clothing by adding pieces.” It means to unite or put together again.
Peace Spelling and Use
Peace is usually used as a noun to describe tranquility, a state of calm, or freedom from a disturbance or war. Like most nouns, it can also be used as an adjective to provide detail or clarity to a subject.
- The minister called for peace, asking both sides of the conflict to lay down their arms while new treaties were brokered.
- The sound of the falling water brought peace to the opening, allowing all who entered to enjoy the sounds of nature uninterrupted.
- A peaceful agreement was made between the two classes, each splitting the work required to raise the fund for the field trip.
It also can be used as an interjection to create an informal greeting or command to be silent.
- Peace! I didn’t expect to see you here, but it was a happy surprise!
- Peace, man!
- Peace! It’s best you stay quiet!
Origin of Peace
Peace originates from the Latin pacem, meaning “compact, agreement, or treaty,” and influenced the 11th-century Old French pais of the same definition. The mid-12th century Anglo-French, pes, added to the definition to embody the meaning of “freedom from civil disorder” and influenced the Old English language to replace the word frið, meaning happiness, as a synonym of peace.
The mid-13th century defined it as “friendly relations between people,” and the modern spelling, peace, reflects a vowel and pronunciation shift that occurred during the 16th century.
Piece and peace are homophones: two words that sound identical despite their obvious differences. Piece means to be a part of something bigger, a part of a whole, and can work as a noun or verb to describe something or put together multiple pieces. Peace is a noun used to describe the calmness of a situation or freedom from disturbance. It can also be used as an interjection.