Rancor vs ranker

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| Grammarist

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| Homophones

Rancor and ranker are two commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way when spoken aloud but are spelled differently and mean different things, which makes them homophones. Homophones exist because of our ever-changing English language, and are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. The way the spelling and definitions differ can be confusing when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Proper pronunciation of spoken English may help the listener distinguish between homophones; the words affect-effect are a good example, but the words to, too and two, or horse and hoarse, are indistinguishable from each other. 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. 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, 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. We will examine the definitions of the two homophonic words rancor and ranker, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Rancor is long-standing resentment, bitterness, long-term acrimony or animosity. Rancor is a noun that is derived from the Latin word rancorem, which means bitterness or to stink. Note that rancor is the American spelling of the word, the British spelling is rancour.

Ranker may mean a British soldier who is enlisted, or an officer who has been promoted from an enlisted status. Ranker may also be used as a noun to mean one who ranks something. Rank, used as a noun or a verb, is derived from the Old French word ranc, which means a line or a row of something.


Partisan rancor stalled the bill and even sparked a brief walkout by teachers across the state while its particulars were being debated. (The West Virginia Metro News)

Around the digital water cooler known as Twitter on Thursday, the first Democratic presidential debate inspired more rancor, humor and bad-taste than the debate itself. (The Washington County News)

ROBERT MORSE RECEIVED the “Lifetime Ranker Achievement Award” from the IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence at their 2019 conference in May in Bologna, Italy. (U.S. News & World Report)

Gupta Kartikey Chandresh of Ballarpur is the top ranker in the CRL in JEE (Advanced) 2019 obtaining 346 marks out of 372 marks. (The Hans India)

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