Wheal or Weal vs. Wheel

Photo of author


Wheal or weal and wheel are 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 wheal or weal and wheel, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

A wheal or weal is a welt or a raised and irritated portion of the skin. Wheals or weals are often a symptom of an allergy to ingested substances like peanuts or to substances encountered topically, like poison ivy. Originally, the word wheal or weal was a term for an injury inflicted by a whip. The word wheal or weal came into use in the very early 1800s and may be a variation of the word wale, which was a term for an injury inflicted by a whip.

A wheel is a circular frame that may have spokes and turns on an axle. A wheel may be a part of a machine or a vehicle. For instance, an automobile has four wheels to carry the vehicle down the road and a steering wheel to point it in the right direction. A riverboat may be propelled by a paddle wheel. A roulette table features a wheel. Wheel is used as a noun and also as a verb, to mean to revolve or pivot or to propel oneself by moving a wheel. For instance, someone pushing himself in a wheelchair may be said to wheel across a room. Related words are wheels, wheeled, wheeling. The word wheel is derived from the Old English word hweol.


Red spots on the hands, blisters on the torso and itchy wheals have been identified as possible signs of the coronavirus. (Daily Mail)

The weal differs in size from 1 mm to many centimetres- “giant urticaria,” and is usually intensely itchy. (Forbes India)

“I jumped and I turned the wheel like this,” Tarek said, smiling from the driver’s seat after completing the race. (Reuters)

On the sidewalk, waiters wheeled and lifted patio heaters into position, as though blocking out a modern-dance performance involving giant shiitake-mushroom sculptures. (New Yorker)

Enjoyed reading about these homophones? Check out some others we covered: