Crewel and cruel are 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 crewel and cruel, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.
Crewel is a loosely twisted worsted yarn that is used for a certain type of embroidery work known as crewelwork. This yarn is embroidered on linen to achieve a raised pattern on the work. Crewelwork done with crewel may be framed or it may decorate a pillow or upholstery. The word crewel has been in use since the 1400s, though the origin of the term is not known.
Cruel describes something or someone that causes pain and suffering without remorse. Cruel is an adjective. The word cruel is derived from the Latin word crudelis, which means hard-hearted or unfeeling.
In her spare time, she did beautiful crewel stitchery, loved flowers and gardening, watching and playing golf, being with family and fur babies, and watching the Seahawks. (The Daily World)
Lynn loved tiling furniture, refinishing furniture, stained glass art, hook-rugs, crewel, string art, reading and exploring as many U.S. states as possible. (The Buffalo Bulletin)
Biographer Penny Junor, who has been covering the royal family for four decades, has said that Netflix’s The Crown offers a ‘cruel and unfair’ portrayal of the family. (The Hindustan Times)
“It’s not to say it (the ACA) is without flaws, but just sweeping it off the table is ridiculous – and disruptive and cruel to a lot of people.” (The Tucson Sentinel)