Tabs on Writing

The Business of Business Writing by John Tabellione, Principal at

Strong Words with Teeth in Them

Date: 24 April 2010
Category: Health, Homophones, Spelling, Vocabulary

Sometimes you have to wonder who made these homophone decisions and why. For example, recently I had some dental work done – a new crown. Fortunately, it was painless.

Then it struck me that we have another word in the English language that sounds the same and could easily have been spelled identically, giving us a homonym instead of a homophone. That word is “dentil” which describes a type of decorative wood molding whose main characteristic feature is its rectangular blocks that resemble – you guessed it – teeth.

Since the term “dentil” refers to architectural teeth, perhaps the architectural community lobbied for their own spelling, but it would have been a lot easier for the rest of us to use one word (dental) for both meanings.

For a non-native, the English tongue is certainly not something that they can easily sink their teeth into.

No responses yet. You could be the first!

Leave a Response

CommentLuv badge