Wednesday, January 31, 2007

SQUIDS 101: Commonly Confused Homophones

I often see these common homophones confused online and in printed matter, and I thought a quick and handy guide might be of use to readers. All definitions are taken or adapted from; all examples, as will become clear very quickly, are my own.

complement: (n) something that completes or makes perfect; (v) to complete; form a complement to.
The squid's hot-pink tentacles were the perfect complement to her sterling-silver skin.
compliment: (n) an expression of praise, commendation, or admiration; (v) to pay a compliment to.
Squids are a highly sycophantic species; they can spend a flood of ink in compliments.

eminent: (adj) high in station, rank, or repute; prominent; distinguished; conspicuous, signal, or noteworthy; lofty; high; prominent; projecting; protruding
The Great Sand Squid of the Kalahari is the most eminent example of the rarely seen desert variety (suborder Oegopsina, family Psanditeuthidae).
imminent: (adj) likely to occur at any moment; impending
If you feel a squid attack is imminent, remember: Do not use nunchucks.

faze: (v) to cause to be disturbed or disconcerted; daunt.
The squid was unfazed by my display of underwater kung fu.
phase: (n) a stage in a process of change or development; (v) to plan or carry out systematically by phases.
Common Phrases: phase in; phase out
Many young squids go through a Goth phase; only rarely is it cause for concern.

foreword: (n) a short introductory statement in a published work, as a book, esp. when written by someone other than the author
Dr. Mollusc wrote the foreword to Madam Calamari's classic study Squids and Sensibility.
forward: many definitions, most commonly (adj/adv) onward, (adj) ready, prompt, or eager, and (v) to advance.
The squid was very forward in his approaches, and I rebuked him for his uncouth manners.

mantel: (n) An ornamental facing around or a protruding shelf over a fireplace
Where most humans would mount their prizes over the mantel, squids apparently preferred to employ them as lawn ornaments.
mantle: (n) something that covers, envelops, or conceals; a loose, sleeveless cloak or cape; a single or paired outgrowth of the body wall that lines the inner surface of the valves of the shell in mollusks and brachiopods; (v) to cover with or as if with a mantle; to flush, blush
The squid's mantle mantled chartreuse in recognition of the compliment.

peak: (n) the pointed top of anything; the highest or most important point or level; (v) to attain a peak; to become weak, thin, and sickly
Stan Stanford and the Squids' latest record, "The Cephalopod Shuffle," peaked at number 127 on the charts.
peek: (n) a quick or furtive look or glance; (v) to look or glance quickly or furtively, esp. through a small opening or from a concealed location.
Common Phrases: take a peek, sneak peek (NOT "sneak peak")
Two squids in love peek / At a sweet tentacle's touch; / Six hearts beat as one.
peke: (n abbrev, short for "Pekingese"): A small yappy dog of Chinese origin.
The squid considered today's specials: peke, bichon, pug, or chihuahua?
pique: (n) a feeling of irritation or resentment, as from a wound to pride or self-esteem. (v) to wound, to excite, to arouse an emotion or provoke to action.
Common Phrases: a fit of pique; to pique one's interest (NOT "to peak one's interest")
My poking piqued the peke on the peak to peek at the hungry squid below.

pore over: (v) to read, study, gaze at, ponder, or meditate upon something with steady attention or application
Squids and Sensibility is widely regarded as the Moby-Dick of the mollusc world, and I pored over it for hours.
pour over: (v) to issue, move, or proceed in great quantity or number: to flow forward or stream
The squids poured over the coral reef in a Teutonic display of Teuthida power.

principal: (n) One who holds a position of presiding rank, especially the head of an elementary school or high school; a main participant in a situation; the main body of an estate or financial holding as distinguished from the interest or revenue from it. (adj) First, highest, or foremost in importance, rank, worth, or degree.
My principal objections to the plan were 1) the height, 2) the giant squid, and 3) Barry Manilow.
principle: (n) a rule or standard; an essential quality
The first principle of Squid School is -- you do not talk about Squid School.

stationary: (adj) not moving; having a fixed position
The fire squid remained stationary -- but for how long?
stationery: (n) writing paper and materials
As I picked up the stationery, my heart beat like a rare Euprymna scolopes, for there, in the corner, gleamed a tiny silver squid.


  1. You = awesome. *is tickled*

    Also, I expect the Giant Squid to come into his narrative own in DH. All this time he's been lurking under the surface of the lake, just waiting to give Harry the key to the whole mystery... or maybe just one of the Horcruxes, that would do nicely too.

  2. I usually do pretty well with homophones, but when I miss it is usually spectacular.
    Did you like the envelope squid I sent you? It was so much fun to write/draw it, really made my day.
    Angela from Arizona

  3. I'm coming out of lurkdom to thank you for posting this list. May it reach to the far corners of writer-dom.

    "Pore" vs. "pour" over is the one I've found particularly troublesome...I always have to stop and research to make sure I've chosen the correct spelling.

    I have a homophone question for you, while we're at it:

    Is it, "Hear, hear!" or "Here, here?"


  4. Love the sentences!! I never knew that "mantle" was also a verb meaning "blush."

    What does the Deluxe Edition of Deathly Hallows include? I've seen several sites offering it for sale, and the Scholastic press release mentions it, but I can't find a description.

  5. It's "hear, hear," Jillian, as in "hear him, hear him".

  6. I get flustered by "it’s" and all its various forms.

    The squid slid its chair closer to the pizza, hoping for anchovies.

    It's a lovely day for a squid parade.

    Is that right?

    And if I asked real nice could someone explain commas? I used to never use them unless absolutely necessary, now I sprinkle them on like red chili flakes.

    You have my gratitude.


  7. Thank you, r.j. Your explanation will help me to remember the correct spelling next time! :)

  8. Well, but it can be "Here, here": used like "Okay, friends, what's the trouble?"

  9. You have your "its" right there, Marilyn. And I was going to say, if these kinds of grammar/punctuation/usage refresher lessons are useful, I may make them a regular feature -- as regular as anything is around here, anyway! So maybe I'll do commas next. :-)

    And Genevieve, that information will be forthcoming in due course.

  10. Utter glee, I would be filled to the brim with gleeness at grammar and punctuation help, because I sure need it to fill the great gaping holes in my slacker California OC education. I’ve tried, honest! I even took an extension course at UCLA in punctuation but it only covered the basics. I’ve been given multiple copies of Eats, Shoots & Leaves by well meaning people. However, I still pretty much suck at punctuation, the truth be told.

    Soooo…. Commas! Yes! And also one thing that has puzzled me for a long time; do you start a new paragraph after a line of dialog? For example, this…

    “The Calamari Club is meeting on Tuesday,” the squid announced, posting the sign up on the aquarium. He used waterproof tape of course. The cuttlefish swam over to admire his elegant penmanship.

    Or this…

    “The Calamari Club is meeting on Tuesday,” the squid announced, posting the sign up on the aquarium.
    He used waterproof tape of course. The cuttlefish swam over to admire his elegant penmanship.

    Or this…

    “The Calamari Club is meeting on Tuesday,” the squid announced, posting the sign up on the aquarium. He used waterproof tape of course.
    The cuttlefish swam over to admire his elegant penmanship.



  11. Dang! That didn't post right.... I can't figure out how to do indents on Blogger.

    Pretend that there is an indent on the last sentence of the third example before, "The cuttlefish".

    Thanks again!


  12. Oar, or, ore were on my son's recent spelling test. The word ore just wouldn't stick for him--not one of those words we use much.

    The coal miner must have used an oar to pick at the ore, or maybe not. When finished, he ate an or-eo.

  13. Angela, I forgot to add I *did* like the envelope squid you sent me -- in fact, I cut it out and taped it to the wall over my submissions inbox (my squidbox), where it joined a school of other envelope squids. Thanks to all of you who have included them on your submissions -- they always brighten my day too!

  14. Picky, peaky, peeky...
    That's why you're the editor.
    (and a gosh darn good one.)

  15. I always have to think hard about stationary/stationery.

    And THANK YOU for the phase/faze explanation, as it is one of my (mild) pet peeves.

    A less mild pet peeve is peek/peak/pique confusion (and I've never even brought "peke" into the equation). There is a self-published Jane Austen sequel that confuses the first three liberally. I also received an e-mail from the author boasting of how her book "piqued" at a certain Amazon ranking. The weird thing is that she understood there were three different ways to spell that word, and they meant three different things, but couldn't keep straight which was which. (And don't get me started on the PLOT of her sequel. Oy.)

  16. Yay, I made the squidwall!
    You have a squidbox, why does this make me giggle? I'm so proud to be swimming in your squid school.
    Did you know a person in the Navy is referred to as a Squid? My husband was in the Navy.

  17. As I read through your post, all I could think of was Nancy Stewart's "Squid Taratella" (written by MaryLee Sunseri)-- "Head and feet, feet and head,
    These are the body parts of the squid,
    Mantle and feet, mantle and head,
    These are the body parts of the squid." Here's the link (scroll down to #7): Squid Tarantella.

  18. Great post! I've always been highly irritated by people who can't distinguish between faze and phase, and almost as much so by those who say that something has "peaked" their curiosity. And your examples are wonderful.... (Have you read The Transitive Vampire, or any of the other books by that author?)

  19. Nice work. I do believe that an entry on defuse/diffuse would be most welcome as well.

  20. If someone piqued my curiosity too much, it may well have peaked before I peeked into what made me curious, resulting in a piquant note.

  21. And don't forget that our capitol buildings are located in capital cities. Confusing those might be a capital offense.

  22. you are a certifiable fruitcake ... but the good kind ...

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