Saturday, March 12, 2016


In the last couple of weeks, a few listeners have expressed an interest in particular homophones—words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings.

Dave from Traverse City called in with pray and prey. Pray came from an Anglo-Norman word that developed from Latin. It means to ask or petition. Sharing a similar provenance, prey means a creature that is seized for food. Pray that you’ll never become prey.

Pete from Boyne Falls inquired about fare, as in how did you fare? It came from a Germanic word that meant to travel or pass through. It also came to mean the money required for a journey on a vehicle or a supply of food. A fair was a public market that was held on a holiday [L. feria]. The adjective fair came from a Germanic word that meant attractive.

Jim from Cedar wanted to know about time and thyme—especially where the –h–in thyme came from. Thyme came from the Latin thymum, a herb with aromatic leaves. This spelling is often used as a humorous or punning version of time. There is an Old Thyme Café, Old Thyme Herb Farm, Old Thyme Inn, Old Thyme Pizza, etc. Time, from the Germanic, means a period or interval of existence.

Liz from Traverse City brought up do and due, as in I’ll do it in due time. Do, from the Germanic, means to perform an action, though it has other shades of meaning, too. Due, ultimately from the Latin, means owed or appropriate.

Bernie from Charlevoix asked about adieu and ado. They are not pronounced exactly alike, but there is a close resemblance. Adieu came from the French, where it is used to say goodbye. It basically means [I commend you] to God.   Goodbye is a capsulated version of God be with ye. Ado means action or fuss or ceremony, as in without further ado.

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.comand clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.


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