Pouring over a book and other misused pears

Some pears of words are so much alike that authors frequently choose the wrong one. Oh. That should be pairs, shouldn’t it?

Pour/Pore

In the cup! Not over the book!

A highly respected Bible teacher urged readers of a workbook to “pourover their Bibles” in order to find answers. Pouring over the Bible, or any other book, could make it impossible to read it until the mess is cleaned up. She doesn’t suggest just what students should pour over their Bibles, but almost any liquid would do irreparable damage.

“Pour” means to make a fluid (liquid or granular solid) flow. Pour water into a glass or perhaps on something you’ve just planted in the garden. Pour a little oil into a skillet. But please, not on books! The right word is “pore,” which means to study carefully and attentively. It also means to gaze steadily or meditate deeply.

I invite you to pore over my blog posts, too. It won’t hurt your computer or smart phone at all.

Maybe part of the problem is that “pore” is more commonly used as a noun, which means some kind of surface opening. Rocks and other porous substances have pores. So do our bodies; we sweat through them. Plants also have pores. The noun “pore” and the verb “pore” have the same spelling, but completely unrelated meanings.

So people choose the more common and familiar verb “pour” in place of the correct “pore.” Perhaps they are not aware that “pore” even exists as a verb.

Creak/Creek

This pair of homonyms have slightly different spellings and unrelated meanings. “Creak” is both a noun and a verb. It means a squeaking or grating sound or to make such a sound.

I’m not sure just why we have taken to complain that our bodies creak as they get older. A gate that needs oil moves with difficulty and makes an unpleasant sound. My knees might sometimes move with difficulty, but they don’t annoy anyone’s ears in the process.

It was some other fellow, probably a good twenty years younger than I, who complained, “my body creeks just a little more than it used to.” I know very well what he meant, but what he actually said makes no sense at all.

“Creek” after all means a small stream. Now, some streams called creeks seem wider and deeper than some other streams called rivers. That might cause some confusion, but regardless of what size it is, a creek doesn’t creak. It makes only wonderful sounds.

“Creek” is also the name of a confederacy of several Native American tribes that all spoke similar languages. My dictionary says they formerly inhabited parts of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. I suppose that means they were among the tribes forced to move to Oklahoma.

If there is any connection between Creeks and creeks, I don’t know what it is. I do know that “creek” is never used as a verb.
[ad name=”Google Adsense 728×90″]

Chalk/Chock

Some health food advocate wrote, “Amaranth is a beautiful tall plant with a red plume. ¬†Among the flowers are seeds used as grain, which are chalk full of protein.” Could that be why so many people resist whole grains and exotic-sounding foods? Chalk doesn’t seem very appetizing.

Before long, people will date themselves if they remember when teachers used something called chalk to write on something called a blackboard. As it turns out, chalk comes from fossilized seashells. It is mostly calcium carbonate, mixed with various other minerals.

If you write holding chalk at a ninety-degree angle to the blackboard, it will creak loudly. Now that it’s mostly obsolete in schools, I can say that say that without fearing the wrath of teachers who think their little boys discovered that from me.

To preserve the reputation of seeds and whole grains in food, I should point out that they are “chock full of protein.” “Chock” is a far less common word than “chalk.” As a noun, it means a block or wedge put under something to keep it from moving. If you change a front tire on your car, put a chock under the back wheels. Or to use a verb, chock the back wheels.

What does that have to do with the protein content of amaranth seeds? Nothing that I can see, but “chock” is also an adverb. It means as completely as possible or as close as possible. Adverbs modify verbs or adjectives. “Full” is an adjective.

Someone might not think it good enough that amaranth seeds are full of protein. “Chock full” sounds more impressive. It also sounds like “chalk full.” If only people learned parts of speech in school and remembered outside of English class!

Bare/Bear

Man bares child! And she doesn’t care.

I read something not long ago about how women can conceive and barechildren. Men can’t conceive children, but they can bare them. How can you change a baby’s diaper if you don’t bare the baby? Otherwise, though, I suppose men could get in real trouble for baring children.

“Bare” as an adjective has several meanings.

  • Simple, without adornment
  • Lacking usual furnishing or equipment
  • Exposed to view, undisguised
  • Naked

As a verb, it means to strip of covering, reveal, or of course, make bare. If you take all the furniture out of a room or strip the linens off the bed to launder them, you have bared the room or the mattress. The only way you can bare a person is to remove his or her clothes. Babies and the disabled need someone else’s help. No one else does.

Conceiving a child has nothing to do with baring a child, but once a woman conceives, she bears the child until its birth. Leaving aside the creatures you’re not supposed to feed in national parks (or anywhere else for that matter), “bear” means to carry or support.

By the way, the past tense of “bear” is “born” when we’re talking or writing about the completion of a pregnancy. Otherwise, it’s “borne.” Once my mother finished bearing me, I was born. I took on a life of my own. I suppose I caused her to wonder what she’d gotten into.

I can bear a box or something. After I’ve borne it, I can just put it down. Maybe that’s the end of it. Of course, if there’s something inside I have to assemble, I, too, will wonder what I’ve gotten into.
[ad name=”Google Adsense 728×90″]
Photo credits:
Pouring coffee. Some rights reserved by Jennifer Chernoffl
Daddy and poopy nappy. Some rights reserved by Ambernectar 13


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *