Sawed vs. Sod

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Sawed and sod are two words that are pronounced in the same manner, 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, or horse and hoarse, 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 homophonic words sawed and sod, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Sawed is the past tense of the verb saw, which means to cut something using a serrated tool such as a saw. Saw, when used as a verb, may refer to performing a back-and-forth action reminiscent of using a saw. Related words are saw, saws, sawing. The word saw is derived from the Old English word saghen.

Sod means a piece of turf, a portion of soil with grass growing out of it. Commercial sod is turf that has been grown on a certain type of mat so that it may be cut and transplanted easily. Sod may be used as a noun or as a verb, to mean to lay sod. Related words are sods, sodded, sodding. In British English, calling someone a sod or telling him to sod off is an insult. The word sod is derived from the Middle Dutch word sode, which means turf.


The York Daily Record/Sunday News has obtained surveillance video that shows an encounter at the Walmart in Shrewsbury Township in which a man shot at a Pennsylvania State Police trooper with a 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun in 2016. (The York Daily Record)

Over the past couple of months crews sawed away downed trees and removed debris from the creek and successfully opened a five-mile stretch. (The Times Herald-Record)

“The crews were actually able to do clean up work, finish the driveway approaches and lay sod on the boulevards,” Ibisch said.  (The Fariboult County Register)

Once at the restaurant, weather permitting, some of the goats will be led up to their famous summer home on the restaurant’s green sod roof where people come to watch them, hence the “Roofing of the Goats” name. (The Wisconsin State Farmer)

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