Here is the latest installment of Tuesday Tricksters, words (homophones) that sound alike (or nearly so), but mean something different and are spelled differently. Remember that spellcheck will not help you here; if you spell the word correctly, spellcheck won’t flag it.
Jalousie (n.): A blind or shutter with adjustable horizontal slats for regulating the passage of air and light
Jealousy (n.): a feeling of envy
- Make sure the jalousie is adjusted for the west sun.
- Sheila felt a strong pang of jealousy towards Amy.
Jam (n.): a difficult situation; a preserve made from fruit; (v.): to wedge or make stick to prevent movement; to pack full or tight; (informal): to improvise freely as in a jam session
Jamb (n.): the side piece(s) of a door or window
- Frank found himself in a real jam at work.
- Karen, jam that stick into the gate to hold it shut.
- All my shoes are jammed into the closet!
- Sarah, do you want a peanut butter and jam sandwich?
- John was painting the door jamb white this morning.
Jeans (n.): pants made out of denim cotton
Genes (n.): plural of gene, a hereditary unit: DNA
- Did Ted buy his new jeans to wear to school?
- Our genes hold many secrets about our health and heritage.
Jell (v.): to take shape or become clear; to crystalize
Gel (n.): a firm, galatinous substance; a jelly
- I need to wait a while for my ideas to jell.
- Be sure to boil the jam until it jells.
- Sharon found a new hair gel to try!
Jibe (v.): To shift a sail from one side of a vessel to the other while sailing; to cause a sail to jibe; to agree; (n.): the act of jibing
Gibe (n.): a jeer or a tease; (v.): to tease or mock
- I need to learn to steer and jibe a boat using just the sails.
- Your ideas jibe with mine.
- Jack was hurt when Ted made a gibe at him.
- Ted gibed at Jack’s reluctance to dive into the pool.
The toughest words here are jell & gel, jibe & gibe, because they are often confused, and even the dictionaries sometimes allow one to be used for the other. If you’re not sure which one to use — if you EVER decide to use any one of the four — see if you can find a good synomym instead.
Are any of the words new to you? Would you actually use jibe or gibe?