Radical vs radicle

Radical and radicle 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 radical and radicle, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

Radical is an adjective that means favoring revolutionary change and has usually been used to describe the political left. Radical describes any change that affects someone or something thoroughly and fundamentally. Radical is also used as a noun to mean someone who advocates complete reform. The word radical is derived from the Latin radix, meaning root, and it relates to the desire to change society at the roots.

The radicle is the part of a plant embryo that develops into the main root. The word radicle came into use in botany in the 1600s and is also derived from the Latin word, radix.


Democrat senators are likely to have reservations about such a big and radical tax-and-spend approach. (Sydney Morning Herald)

It is at once an inventive and radical work, a true testimony to her narrative gift. (Indian Express)

In Stage 1, the seedling root or radicle emerges from the seed, while in Stage 2, cotyledons unfold and expand while the radicle penetrates the growing substrate. (Greenhouse Management Magazine)

The first visual indicator of germination (other than the seed swelling) is the appearance of the radicle root between 35 and 60 Growing Degree Days (GDD) after planting (Nielsen, 2019). (Hoosier Ag Today Magazine)

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