Spitz and spits 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, but the words to, too and two 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 words spitz and spits, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.
A spitz is a dog that belongs to one of a certain number of breeds that are classified as working dogs. A spitz always has a pointed nose and pointed ears. Some breeds that are considered to be spitz dogs are the Akita, the Chow Chow, the Pomeranian, the Samoyed and the Shiba Inu, among others. The word spitz came into use in the 1840s and is taken from the German word spitzen, meaning pointed. The plural form is spitzes.
Spits is the present plural form of the verb spit, meaning to expectorate or to eject saliva, food, drink, or a foreign object from one’s mouth. Related forms are spit, spat, spitting. The word spits is derived from the Old English word spætan which means to expel saliva.
She also offered to pay for the Maltese-Japanese spitz mix’s eye removal, which was causing the pup the most pain. (The National Post)
Anubis is a northern spitz type, about 60 pounds and 10 years old, with no health issues except for a sebaceous adenoma on the back of his neck. (Newsday)
Blotter: Man spits on officer after being arrested on public intoxication charge, police say (The Denton Record-Chronicle)
Aboriginal activist ,21, who spits at police, calls them ‘white dogs’ and doesn’t identify as Australian is charged with assaulting a paramedic (The Daily Mail)