Rouse vs rows

Photo of author


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. 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)