Lesser — Liken

Here we go again! More of those tough words (aka homophones) in English that sound the same (or nearly so, anyway), but mean something different and are spelled differently. And it doesn’t matter how much English we know; these words bedevil even the smartest people and the best writers.

Let’s always remember that spellcheck — that marvel of spelling correctness — can do only one thing: check spelling. It’s always up to us writers to read what we’ve written to be sure the words we have used are the ones we meant.

So, here are your five sets of words for this Tuesday, December 6, 2016:

Lesser (adj.): smaller in size, importance, or value (the lesser evil); (adv.): a comparative of little (a lesser-known writer); (n.):one that is lower in importance, rank, magnitude, or degree (the lesser of two evils)

Lessor (n.): a person who gives a lease; a landlord

 

Levee (n.): an embankment raised to prevent a river from overflowing (often seen in the U.S. south, especially in New Orleans, La.)

Levy (v.): to impose or collect a tax; (n.): a required or collected fee or tax

 

Liar (n.): one who does not tell the truth

Lier (n.): one who rests or reclines; one who lies down

Lyre (n.): a stringed musical instrument.

 

Lice (n.) plural of louse, a tiny, wingless, sucking parasite

Lyse (v.): to cause dissolution or destruction of cells by lysins; to burst or cut a cell or cell structure

 

Lichen (n.): a plant found on rocks or trees made of both a specific fungus and a specific algae that help one another

Liken (v.): to represent or describe as being like, or similar (to); to compare (she likened the crow’s sound to that of fingernails on a blackboard)

Were any of these new to you? I had NEVER heard of lyse, so now I know it could be an answer in a crossword puzzle.

And for more definitions of these and other words, check out www.yourdictionary.com, which contains definitions from four or five dictionaries, so you can find ones that make sense to you.