There Their They're: The Homonym Quiz

EDUCATION

Staff

5 Min Quiz

When a baseball player hits a home run, he runs all the way around the ...

Players run the "bases," though the word actually comes from the Latin word "basis" meaning "base or pedestal."

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Which describes a loop of rope?

It's "bight," which comes from the Old English word byht, meaning "bend or angle."

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_____ best off choosing which homonym to complete this sentence?

You're is a contraction that combines the words "you" and "are."

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What might be a demolition crew's favorite homonym?

To "raze" means to completely destroy. It shares its origin with the word "razor," which makes sense if you think of a razor as a hair bulldozer.

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This is a type of African antelope.

"Gnu" is it, even though it doesn't look anything like its homonyms. The word probably comes from the sound the creatures make when they're startled. Who knew?

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The first and eighth notes of a major scale are …

The answer is "do." "A deer, a female deer" is actually a "doe" — we're looking at you, "The Sound of Music."

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Which is a synonym for wharf?

That would be "quay," a pretty obvious rip-off of the French word quai, which also means wharf.

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The man paddled the boat with an ...

The word "oar" has Danish and Norwegian roots. Makes sense — those Vikings sure were into rowing boats!

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She had to ______ over her textbooks and notes in order to prepare for the test.

This one's tricky — the answer is "pore." It's tempting to use "pour," but that word is mostly reserved for a stream of liquid.

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These are used to steer a horse.

"Reins" are what you'd need for a horse. This is also the spelling used in the phrase "free rein," which describes a freedom of action.

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I just couldn't get interested in that documentary about rocks; it was a real …

If it's not interesting, it's a "bore." Another homonym for these words is "Boer," a South African of Dutch descent.

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You know that little mark a proofreader uses to insert words (it looks like this: ^)? That's called a …

It may look a little like a "carrot," but the word for it is "caret."

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Which describes something not in use?

"Idle" comes from the Old English idel, meaning empty or useless; the Dutch ijdel, meaning vain, frivolous or useless; and the German eitel, meaning bare or worthless. Any way you slice it, the word doesn't seem to be a compliment!

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_____ coming from _____ house over _____.

The correct order is "they're, their, there." Three in one sentence — that's homonym level: expert.

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This book is a little too long. I think the author could _____ down some of the chapters.

"Pare" comes from the Latin word parare, meaning prepare. Food preparation often involves peeling vegetables or trimming meat, which is why the word "pare" came to mean "reduce."

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Watching the movie "Braveheart" really _____ my interest in Scottish history.

Though your interest in Scottish history may have "peaked" after watching the movie, the word for this phrase is "piqued."

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The cat often _____ on birds and lizards.

"Preys" is the right word here. Interestingly, the other two choices (prays and praise) originate from different Latin words even though they both have religious connotations.

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For many young people, getting their driver's license is an important ______ of passage.

In this case "rite" is right, though the Latin word ritus had more of a religious connotation.

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The police _____ aggressively on the man's door after his neighbors called in a noise complaint.

"Rapped" makes sense, because a "rap" is a sharp knock. This is what linguists might call an imitative word, meaning the pronunciation seems to replicate the sound of the action.

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This homonym is the past tense of "slay."

The past tense is "slew." "Slue" means to turn violently and can also be spelled "slew."

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Which of these is a seabird?

A "tern" is a seabird related to gulls. A tern can also be a set of three winning lottery numbers.

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Whether you're talking about a tailless amphibian or a detestable person, use this word.

You could refer to an unlikable person as a "toad" or use the adjective "toadish."

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He tried to fit in his old jeans, but he had gained _____ much weight.

"Too" is the best word here and for phrases like "too bad," "too much" and "too far."

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Which is a type of blood vessel?

Veins carry blood back to the heart.

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When they left for work, their dog would _____ with sadness.

A "wail" is a long, high-pitched cry. Poor Fido.

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A big group of people is called a …

A lot of people is a horde; a lot of things is a hoard.

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The golfer's ball sailed toward the crowd as he yelled "_____!"

"Fore" might be a shortening of the term "forecaddie," which was a person who would stand where the ball might land so the golfer didn't lose the ball.

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Every year millions of tourists flock to New York City to see the …

This is a tricky one, but "sight" is the best word. Why? Because a "sight" is something a tourist might want to see, and not all "sites" are "sights."

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When it comes to eating undercooked meat, I like to _____ on the side of caution.

"Err" is the right word. Traditionally, though, "err" rhymed with "her," which means it wouldn't have been a homonym for those other words.

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This is what artists put their paint on.

It's spelled "palette" — not to be confused with "palate," which is the roof of the mouth, or "pallet," which is a crude bed.

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Image: zimmytws/iStock/Thinkstock

About This Quiz

A homonym is one of two or more words that are pronounced the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. How does your homonym knowledge stack up? Take our (hour?) quiz and see (sea?)!

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