It’s Tuesday, so here’s another edition of Tricksters, those words that sound alike (or nearly so, anyway) and can make us writers look bad when we misuse them. Spellcheck will never help here; the words are spelled correctly, but used incorrectly.
Leak (n.): a breach that allows something to escape; (v.): to allow the escape, entry, or passage of something through a breach or flaw
Leek (n.): an edible plant related to the onion, with a white, slender bulb and flat, dark-green leaves
Lean (v.): to incline, bend, or rest on or against; to rely on for support; to have a preference for; (n.): without much fat
Lien (n.): a legal term for a claim on property as security to make sure someone repays money they’ve borrowed.
Lear (n.): the king’s name in Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear; the name of a well-known jet
Leer (n.): a sly, sidelong look showing salaciousness, malicious triumph, etc.; (v.): to look at someone with sly or malicious intent
Leas (n.): meadows
Lease (v.): to rent property to someone legally; (n.): a legal rental agreement
Leased (v.): past tense of to lease
Least (adj.): smallest or slightest in size, degree, importance, etc. (that’s the least of our worries); (adv.): used for forming superlatives of adjectives, especially those that do not form the superlative by adding est. (the least surprising thing); in the smallest or lowest degree (to reward those who least deserve it)
Are any of these new to you? For once I had a pretty good idea of what each word meant, although I still looked them up to be sure.
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.