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
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.
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