Word Confusion: Ant versus Aunt

Posted February 9, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

When I read about Anti Jane, I’m more inclined to think of Jane Fonda than my dad’s sister, Aunt Jane.

I do realize that it can be confusing when aunt can be pronounced aw-nt, ahnt, or ant, but it’s no excuse for misspelling it.

Depending upon pronunciation, this Word Confusion pair can be an heterograph.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Ant Aunt
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Ant walking on leaf

“Ant on Leaf” is Luke Elstad’s own work in Minnesota and is under GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5 licenses, via Wikimedia Commons


Aunt Jemima logo

“Aunt Jemima logo” courtesy of Quaker Oats Company

Aunt Jemima brings back memories for me of yummy pancakes when I was a kid.

Part of Grammar:
Noun 1
Plural for noun: ants
Prefix 2; Suffix 3
Noun
Plural for noun: aunts
Noun:
A small insect, often with a sting, that usually lives in a complex social colony with one or more breeding queens. It is wingless except for fertile adults, which often form large mating swarms, and is proverbial for industriousness.

Prefix:
ant-


Variant spelling of anti- before a vowel or h

Suffix:
-ant


[Forming adjectives] Denoting attribution of an action or state

[Forming nouns] Denoting an agent

Noun:
The sister of one’s father or mother or the wife of one’s uncle

  • [Informal] An unrelated older woman friend, especially of a child

[Chiefly New England and South Midland U.S.] A term of respectful address to an older woman who is not related to the speaker

[Slang] An aging male homosexual

Examples:
Noun:
Geez, he sure has ants in his pants.

Better get the exterminator in to get rid of those ants.

Jenny followed a line of ants, each carrying a grain bigger than themselves, back to their nest.

Prefix:
Antarctic, Antarctica
antacid
anthelmintic

Suffix:
arrogant
expectant
deodorant
propellant
coolant
pleasant
constant

Noun:
Aunt B was the alpha for the bouda clan in Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series.

Aunt Mary bakes the best brownies.

Uncle Paul and Aunt Jane moved to Florida after they retired.

Oh, my sainted aunt!

Now here is an old, tough aunt.

Derivatives:
Adjective: antlike
Noun: ant-thrush, anthill
Adjective: auntlike
Noun: auntie, aunty
History of the Word:
1 Old English ǣmete is related to the German Ameise.

2 Representing Greek anti meaning against.

3 From Latin or French present participial verb stems.

Middle English from the Old French ante, which is from the Latin amita.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

There are several books with this word confusion in their titles: Aunt Ant Leaves through the Leaves by Nancy Coffelt, Ants, Aunts and Funerals by Elizabeth M. Thompson, and Aunt? Ant?: Fun Homophones by Aleena Huang are all found on Goodreads.com.


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