Word Confusion: Raise vs Rays vs Raze

Posted January 15, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Talk about opposites! Raise is such a positive, uplifting word while raze…well, it isn’t positive. It’s destructive. It destroys. So when I run across this word confusion in a story…well, it razes my mood. I much prefer to raise my heart rate, my hopes, my expectations, my blood pressure when I’m reading. Getting bulldozed by raze does a 180 on my mood and dumps all over the story.

Rays was added 5 November 2016 simply because it is an heterograph of raise and raze.

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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Raise Rays Raze
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Line drawing of a man doing an exercise with weights

“Seated Calf-raise” by Everkinetic is under CC-BY-SA-3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

The sun's rays stab through the trees at Lloyd Lake in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.

“Crepuscular Rays” is Brocken Inaglory’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL license, via Wikimedia Commons


A neighborhood, the 9th Ward in New Orleans, is completely flat due to Hurricane Katrina

“Ninth Ward Post-Katrina” by Sixinfo (Craig Morris) at en.wikipedia is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A wall of water from Hurricane Katrina razed the 9th Ward.

Part of Grammar:
Noun; Verb, transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: raises
Past tense or past participle: raised
Gerund or present participle: raising

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: ray

Noun 1, 2
Verb 1 and 3, intransitive & transitive

Past tense or past participle: rayed
Gerund or present participle: raying

Usually, be razed

Verb, transitive

Third person present verb: razes
Past tense or past participle: razed
Gerund or present participle: razing

Alternative spelling: rase

An increase in salary

[In poker or brag] An increase in a stake

  • [Bridge] A higher bid in the suit that one’s partner has bid

[Weightlifting; usually with an adjective] An act of lifting or raising a part of the body while holding a weight

Verb, transitive:
Lift or move to a higher position or level

  • Lift or move to a vertical position; set upright
  • Construct or build a structure
  • Cause to rise or form
  • Bring to the surface (something that has sunk)
  • Cause bread to rise, especially by the action of yeast
  • Make a (nap) on cloth

Increase the amount, level, or strength of

  • Promote someone to a higher rank
  • [Linguistics, in transformational grammar: raising; usually as a noun] Move an element from a lower structure to a higher one
  • [Mathematics: raise something to] Multiply a quantity by itself to a specified power
  • [In poker or brag] Bet (a specified amount) more than (another player)
  • [Bridge] Make a higher bid in the same suit as that bid by one’s partner
  • Increase a bid in this way

Cause to be heard, considered, or discussed

  • Cause to occur, appear, or be felt
  • Generate (an invoice or other document)

Collect, levy, or bring together (money or resources)

Bring up a child

  • Breed or grow animals or plants

Bring someone back from death

Abandon or force an enemy to abandon a siege, blockade, or embargo

Drive an animal from its lair

  • [Figurative] Cause (a ghost or spirit) to appear
  • [British, informal] Establish contact with someone, especially by telephone or radio
  • [Of someone at sea] Come in sight of land or another ship

[Immunology] Stimulate production of an antiserum, antibody, or other biologically active substance against the appropriate target cell or substance

Each of the lines in which light (and heat) may seem to stream from the sun or any luminous body, or pass through a small opening 1

  • The straight line in which light or other electromagnetic radiation travels to a given point
  • [Rays] A specified form of nonluminous radiation: water reflects and intensifies UV rays
  • [Mathematics] Any of a set of straight lines passing through one point
  • [Rays; informal; chiefly North American] Sunlight considered in the context of sunbathing
  • An initial or slight indication of a positive or welcome quality in a time of difficulty or trouble

A thing that is arranged radially, in particular:

  • [Botany; in a composite flower head of the daisy family] An array of ray florets arranged radially around the central disc, forming the white part of the flower head of a daisy
  • [Also fin ray; Zoology[ Each of the long, slender bony protuberances supporting the fins of most bony fishes
  • [Zoology] Each radial arm of a starfish

[Zoology] A broad, flat marine or freshwater fish with a cartilaginous skeleton, winglike pectoral fins, and a long slender tail 2

Verb, intransitive:
Spread from or as if from a central point

Verb, transitive:
[Literary] Radiate light

Completely destroy a building, town, or other site

To shave or scrape off

He wants a raise and some perks.

Use the proper position when doing bent-over raises.

Verb, transitive:
She raised both arms above her head.

His flag was raised over the city.

Melody managed to raise him to his feet.

A fence was being raised around the property.

The galloping horse raised a cloud of dust.

raised doughnuts

The bank raised interest rates.

The aim was to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless.

The king raised him to the title of Count Torre Bella.

When 3 is raised to the 7th power, it equals 2,187.

I’ll raise you another hundred dollars.

The alarm was raised when he failed to return home.

Doubts have been raised about the future of the reprocessing plant.

Recent sightings have raised hopes that otters are making a return.

She was attempting to raise $20,000.

He was born and raised in San Francisco.

They raised pigs and kept a pony.

God raised Jesus from the dead.

The jack rabbit was only 250 yards from where he first raised it.

The piece raises the ghosts of a number of twentieth-century art ideas.

I raised him on the open line.

They raised the low coast by evening.

Rays of sunlight came through the window, bringing cheer to our gathering.

Rays from the various flashlights pointed at the dog huddled on the road.

Water reflects and intensifies UV rays.

The point where the ray starts is called the endpoint.

Sarah’s catching some rays on a beach in Cruz Bay.

If only I could see a few rays of hope.

Daisies have an array of ray florets arranged radially around the central disc, forming the white part of its flower head.

Ray-finned fishes constitute a class or subclass of the bony fishes.

Fin rays are so called because of the fins that are supported by bony or horny rays.

A starfish has tube feet, which at the tips of the rays, help them detect food.

Verb, intransitive:
Delicate lines rayed out at each corner of her eyes.

Verb, transitive:
The sun rays forth its natural light into the air.

Villages were razed to the ground.

The Ghibellines even proposed to raze the walls of the city.

By refusing to raze their homes, they made the defense of their city impossible.

They razed three houses to erect one monster of a house.

Warsaw was razed to the ground in World War II.

Adjective: raisable, unrayed Adjective: rayed, raylike Adjective: unrazed
Noun: razer
History of the Word:
Middle English from the Old Norse reisa. 1 Middle English from the Old French rai, which is based on the Latin radius meaning spoke, ray.

2 Middle English from the Old French raie, from the Latin raia.

3 Dates from the late 16th century.

Middle English, in the sense of scratch, incise.

From the Old French raser meaning shave closely, from the Latin ras- meaning scraped, which is from the verb radere.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Gamma Ray Bursts” by ESO is under CC BY 4.0 license and “NASA Blue Marble“, courtesy of NASA/ GSFC/ NOAA/ USGS, is in the public domain, both via Wikimedia Commons. “Building Implosion” is a still from a video by David V on YouTube.