Word Confusion: Sole versus Soul

Posted March 24, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 11 October 2017

I was surprised myself, right down to my soul. In fact, I paced the soles of my shoes right off, striding back and forth in total confusion when this writer wrote of “Janet pacing her souls off” *eye roll*

Seeing as the story was a contemporary romance without any whiff of fantasy or the paranormal, I have to assume this writer meant soles. I don’t know if they were merely ignorant and sans editor or if they had relied upon spellcheck to do the work.

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. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Sole Soul
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

The sole of orienteering shoes

“Orienteering Shoes Soles by Svíčková is his own work under the GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

spooky setting in the fog of two ghostly figures meeting

“Souls” by Bonnybbx is via VisualHunt

Part of Grammar:
Attributive Adjective 1; Noun 2 and 3; Verb, transitive 2

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: soles
Past tense or past participle: soled
Gerund or present participle: soling

Plural for the noun: souls
One and only

  • Belonging or restricted to one person or group of people
  • [Archaic; especially of a woman] Unmarried
  • [Archaic] Alone
  • [Archaic] Unaccompanied

The undersurface of a person’s foot

  • The section forming the underside of a piece of footwear (typically excluding the heel when this forms a distinct part)
  • The part of the undersurface of a person’s foot between the toes and the instep
  • The undersurface of a tool or implement such as a plane or the head of a golf club
  • The floor of a ship’s cabin or cockpit
  • [Nautical] Timber extensions on the bottom of the rudder

A marine flatfish of almost worldwide distribution, important as a food fish 3

Verb, transitive:
Usually be soled

Put a new sole onto (a shoe)
The spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal

  • A person’s moral or emotional nature or sense of identity
  • Emotional or intellectual energy or intensity, especially as revealed in a work of art or an artistic performance

The essence or embodiment of a specified quality

  • An individual person
  • Person regarded with affection or pity

African-American culture or ethnic pride

  • Short for soul music
My sole aim was to contribute to the national team.

Loans can be in sole or joint names.

The health club is for the sole use of our guests.

He is the sole heir.

The soles of their feet were nearly black with dirt.

I prefer rubber soles for the traction.

Ouch, I stepped on a piece of glass and cut the sole of my foot!

The width of the sole in your irons can make a big difference in the performance of your clubs and your ability to get the most out of your game (Chron).

We must reinforce the soles on the rudder.

My very first dinner in England was Dover sole with carrots and peas.

Verb, transitive:
The cobbler soled the shoes with hobnails.

In the depths of her soul, she knew he would betray her.

Their interpretation lacked soul.

He was the soul of discretion.

Brevity is the soul of wit.

I’ll never tell a soul.

She’s a nice old soul.

Helena bared her soul.

Carrie is always the life and soul of the party.

That one would sell his soul to the devil.

Tom is a lost soul.

Well, upon my soul!

Soul music combines the elements of African-American gospel music, rhythm and blues, and jazz.

Adjective: soled, soleless

Noun: soleness

Verb: re-sole

Adjective: souled
History of the Word:
1 Late Middle English from Old French soule, from the Latin sola, which is the feminine of solus meaning alone.

2 Middle English from the Old French, which is from the Latin solea meaning sandal or sill, which is from solum meaning bottom, pavement, sole; compare with the Dutch zool and the German Sohle.

3 Middle English from the Old French, which is from the Provençal sola, from Latin solea (see 1), named from its shape.

Old English sāwol and sāw(e)l are of Germanic origin and related to the Dutch ziel and the German Seele.

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

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Spontaneous Tango by Louise64 is under the CC-0 license, via Pixabay.