Welcome to another edition of Tuesday Tricksters, posts intended to help all writers of English remember that there are words called homophones that sound the same (or nearly so), but mean something different and are spelled differently. Spellcheck is useless with them, allowing you to use them if you spell them correctly.
Mustard (n.): a plant of the crucifer family that produces seeds used as a condiment
Mustered (v.): the past tense of to muster, to bring or gather something together
Mutual (adj.): something that goes both ways (mutual respect)
Mutuel (n.): a betting system (aka parimutuel), maybe at a race track
Nae (adv.): Scots: no or not
Nay (adv.): no; primarily used as an opposite to aye in voting
Nee or née (adj.): French for born, indicates a married woman’s maiden name (Mrs. Smith née Jones)
Neigh (n.) the high-pitched sound a horse makes; (v.): to make that sound
Nap (n.): a brief period of sleep; the downy or hairy surface of cloth formed by short hairs or fibers; (v.): to sleep for a brief period
Knap (v.): Chiefly British: to strike sharply; rap; to snap at or bite
Narc (n.): short for a narcotics enforcer
Nark (n.): an informer; a stool pigeon
Were you surprised by any of these words? I had never realized that mutuel was short for parimutuel, and I only knew knap because of knapsack!
For more on these or any English word, check out www.YourDictionary.com, a terrific resource that shows words and their definitions in several dictionaries.