Rouse vs rows

Rouse and rows are two 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 rouse and rows, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

Rouse means to awaken, to excite, to become angry or incite some other emotion. The word rouse is a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are rouses, roused, rousing. The word rouse is derived from the French word reuser. When rouse first came into the English language, it referred to a hawk shaking its feathers.

Rows is the plural form of row, which is a British term for a noisy disagreement, argument, or fight. The word rows is a slang term that came into use at Cambridge University in the mid-1700s, perhaps from the word rousel, meaning a bout of drinking.


Ordered by his supervisor to check on a charge that has failed to detonate, Oskar approaches slowly, “as if he did not want to rouse the dynamite.” (The Washington Post)

And when the pilot spots the southern lights, there’s no attempt to rouse the staff for a look; this is old hat for the those who have the run of the world’s only flying observatory. (Scientific American Magazine)

Dr Hilary rows with ‘selfish’ woman stockpiling 150 food tins over coronavirus fears (The Mirror)

One in four married couples in the UK admit having rows about temperature control making it the top household dispute alongside arguments over the chores. (The Daily Mail)

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