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Word and whirred

  • Word and whirred are two commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. Homophones are a group of words with different spellings, the same pronunciations, and different meanings. Homophones exist because of our ever-changing English language and are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. It can be difficult to learn how to spell different words that sound the same, and homophones are commonly misused words. Said aloud, the difference is less important, because the words are pronounced the same. The way the spelling and definitions differ can be confusing even to native English speakers when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Proper pronunciation of spoken English may help the listener distinguish between homophones and understand the correct spelling; the words affect-effect are a good example, but the word pairs to, too and two, bridle and bridal, creek and creak, hoard and horde, toed and towed, or horse and hoarse, are indistinguishable from each other and are easily confused and are commonly misused. 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, and learning words in English by studying a dictionary of the English language. 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 in English vocabulary, 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. Homophones are often used in wordplay like puns. We will examine the different meanings of the homophonic words word and whirred, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.


     

    A word is a single unit of language that can be written or spoken. Words are put together following various rules of syntax into sentences. Word may be used in a more figurative manner to mean 1.) to promise something, as in to give one’s word 2.) to converse, as in to have a word 3.) to receive news, as in to get word of something. The word word is derived from the German wort, which means word.

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    Whirred is the past tense of the word whir, which means to make a vibrating noise like a buzz or hum. Whirred is a verb, related words are whir, whirs, whirring. The word whirred is derived from the Old Norse word hvirfla, which means to turn.

    Examples

    Weeks after music’s Blackout Tuesday, which sparked a plethora of heated, industry-wide conversations about systemic racism, companies and executives are still debating the use of the word “urban” in job titles, awards categories, and other facets of the music business. (Rolling Stone Magazine)

    This explains why scriptures and sacred texts do not have a word for the modern concept of religion. (The Straits Times)

    The phone rang and pinged and whirred that week, two years ago this month, while I unpacked a lifetime of inanimate objects. (The Phoenix New Times)

    But in the intensive-care units set up for COVID-19, machines beeped and whirred in room after room of the sickest patients. (The Atlantic)


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