Word Confusion: Herds versus Hurds

Posted February 20, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Hurds jumps me right into Charles Dickens’ workhouses or Richard Sharpe’s childhood memories, so it was quite confusing to read about hurds of cattle following the Chisholm Trail. I gotta say, I don’t think the cattle have either the finger dexterity to clean hemp nor to type on a keyboard. Come to that, I don’t think herds would either…

Annd, this Word Confusion pair is 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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Herds Hurds
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: hurds


“Burmese Regatta” Wagaung at the English language Wikipedia is under the GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 licenses, via Wikimedia Commons

An unexpected depiction of herds with a herd of boats looking on at the herd of paddlers racing while a herd of people enjoy the race from the sidelines.

Thermal insulation brick made of hemp

“Thermal insulation brick made of hemp” is Sauvageot’s own work under the GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 licenses, via Wikimedia Commons

After scutching, the resulting hurds are used to make up all sorts of products, including this insulating block.

Part of Grammar:
Plural for herd

Verb, transitive

Third person present verb: herds
Past tense or past participle: herded
Gerund or present participle: herding

Noun 1
Plural Noun 2
Plural for noun: hurds
A large group of animals, especially hoofed mammals, that live, feed, or migrate together or are kept together as livestock

  • [Derogatory] A large group of people, typically with a shared characteristic

Verb, intransitive:
[With adverbial of direction; with reference to a group of people or animals] Move in a particular direction

To unite or go in a herd

  • Assemble or associate as a herd

Verb, transitive:
[With adverbial of direction; with reference to a group of people or animals] Move in a particular direction

Keep or look after livestock

[Computer] Operating system, which is the GNU project’s replacement for the Unix kernel 1

Plural Noun:
The refuse or coarser parts of flax or hemp, separated in hackling 2

  • the hards
There are so few herds of elephants these days.

To survive, farmers need large farms with big dairy herds.

I dodged herds of joggers and cyclists.

He’s not of the common herd.

She hasn’t a mind of her own but always follows the herd.

Verb, intransitive:
We all herded into a storage room.

Verb, transitive:
Nick herded me through the baggage claim and into his Jaguar.

Hunter and Tripp herded sheep.

A Hurd is a collection of servers that run on the Mach microkernel to implement file systems, network protocols, file access control, and other features that are implemented by the Unix kernel or similar kernels such as Linux.

Plural Noun:
We’ll have to clean out the hurds.

Grab that basket of hurds for the production line.

Hurds are used in animal bedding, building, fibreboard, stucco and plaster, and insulation.

Noun: goatherd, herdboy, herder, herdsman, swineherd
History of the Word:
Old English heord is of Germanic origin and related to the German Herde. 1 Richard Stallman began developing a complete free operating system in 1983 which evolved into the Hurd in 1990.

2 Before 900, the Middle English herdes, from the Old English heordan.

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:

The word, logo, and symbol are all about the GNU.org operating system.