Nit — Noes

Since 2014, I’ve been publishing several different types of articles, all based on days of the the week. Over time, a couple have dropped away, and I’m intent on bringing them back for others to learn from.

Today’s article is about Tuesday Tricksters, words known as homophones that sound alike (or nearly so), but are spelled differently and have a different meaning. We’re all apt to trust spellcheck too much, and with homophones, that can be the kiss of death.

Spellcheck does one thing only: It checks spelling. It does not and cannot check usage.

So, let’s take a look at five pairs of words starting with n that might wind up in one of your articles – hopefully the version you meant!

Nit (n.): The egg of a louse or similar insect; a young louse, etc.
Knit (v.): To join together interconnecting loops of yarn or thread in rows of stitches into a garment or piece of fabric using a machine or special needles; (n.): a piece of fabric or a garment that is made by joining together interconnecting loops of yarn or thread in rows of stitches

No (adj.): Not any, not one or hardly any: “There are no toys left in the store.” (adv.): the opposite of yes, used to express denial or disagreement. “There will be no more crying!”(inter.): a way to express disbelief or refusal. “No! I will not hurry up!”
Know (v.): To understand

Nob (n.): Slang The human head. Chiefly British Slang: A person of wealth or social standing
Knob (n.): A rounded protuberance; a rounded handle, as on a drawer or door; a rounded control switch or dial; prominent rounded hill or mountain.

Nock (n.): The groove at either end of a bow for holding the bowstring; the notch in the end of an arrow that fits on the bowstring
Knock (v.): To rap on a door, to hit something, or to criticize someone or something; (n.): a sharp sound, such as an engine might make

Noes (n.): Plural form of no. “There were four noes and seven yeses in the vote.”
Nose (n.): The part of the face used for smelling

Knows (v.): Plural form of know. “She knows all about grammar.”

(adj.=adjective; adv.=adverb; inter.=interjection; n.=noun; v.=verb)

Now, do I expect you to memorize these words and their definitions? Heck, no. But it’s important for all writers in any language to realize there could be more than one word that sounds the same but isn’t. And many words can have different meanings, so it’s wise to consult a dictionary that will give you the correct one every time!

Were any of these new to you? I had to look up “nock” to be sure it was even real! And do you have a favorite pair/triplet of tough words that I could highlight? If so, let me know. I have done these mostly in alphabetical order, if only so I could keep track of them. But I’m open to publishing one that’s out of order if it’ll help.

For even more help, check out YourDictionary.com, where you’ll find definitions of words from several dictionaries all in one spot.

My goal, as always, is to help you look and sound as smart as you are.