Rung vs. Wrung

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Rung and wrung are two commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way when spoken aloud but are spelled differently and have different meanings, 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.

However, 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.

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. Even a participant in a spelling bee will ask for an example of a homophone in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell. We will examine the definitions of the words rung and wrung, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Rung has two very different definitions. First, rung may be used as a noun to mean a horizontal slat on a ladder designed to support a person’s foot. This definition may be extended to be used in a metaphorical sense, meaning a step in hierarchy in a business or institution. Rung is also the past participle form of the verb ring. The verb ring means to surround someone or something or to draw a circle around someone or something. The verb ring also means to make a reverberating sound, often by striking a bell. The word rung is derived from the Germanic word khrungo.

Wrung is the past and past participle tense of the verb wring, which means to squeeze the liquid out of something. Wring is also used in a figurative sense to mean force an emotion, information, a favor, etc., from someone through great effort. Wring is also used when describing twisting an animal’s neck in order to kill it. Wrung is derived from the Old English word wrungen.


The bill would increase the pay of teachers on the lowest three “residency” rungs of the state’s teacher pay scale, raising the lowest rung to $38,500 a year in 2019-2020 and $40,000 in 2020-2021, fulfilling an oft-repeated campaign promise of Gov. Brad Little. (The Idaho State Journal)

HEATH – It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the final bell has rung, and Heath High School students are finished with school for the day. (The Newark Advocate)

“We slid the ladder out towards the boy [in the ice], and he was able to grab the rung of the ladder, and once he was able to grab on, we were able to pull him out of the water and back across the ice to shore,” Muir said. (Global News)

But in the hours since Cohen finished reading those remarks, the members of the committee have barely wrung any more new information out of him. (The Atlantic)

It’s milk — or rather, milks wrung from almonds, coconuts, oats and even peas, which are quickly outpacing the old, familiar soy milk. (The Register-Guard)