Surge vs. Serge

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Surge and serge are two words that are often confused, they are pronounced the same way but have different spellings and meanings. They are homophones. We will examine the meanings of the terms surge and serge, where these terms come from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Surge means a strong and sudden rush upward and forward, a rolling motion, a sudden increase. A storm surge is an abnormally high rise of water from the ocean because of a tropical storm, tropical cyclone or a hurricane. Surge may be used as a noun or a verb, related words are surges, surged, surging. The word surge is derived from the Latin word surgere which means to arise, to get up, to ascend.

Serge is a twilled woolen or worsted fabric. Serge fabric is often used in men’s suits, military uniforms and coats, it is very durable. The word serge is derived from the Latin word serica, which means silken. Early serge fabrics were made of silk.


The surge in violence around Mexico reflects an increasingly volatile criminal landscape and the limitations of North America’s counternarcotics strategy, and it has contributed to the plummeting approval ratings of President Enrique Peña Nieto. (The New York Times)

The nation’s largest port complex reported a surge in cargo volume in November, demonstrating confidence by retailers in U.S. consumer demand. (The Wall Street Journal)

A threadbare serge suit hung on the wall near an eggshell-blue kitchen table on which sat a bowl of fruit, an unwashed teacup and a spoon. (The Irish Examiner)

The cloth itself was known as serge, so the phrase people used to describe it was serge de Nimes, which sounds quite a bit like “denim.” (Good Housekeeping Magazine)