Word Confusion: Pendant versus Pendent

Posted February 12, 2018 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

I was reading (I know, what a surprise, cheeky buggers), and I ran across the author using pendent to describe a piece of jewelry. Well, I knew that wasn’t right, so quite self-righteously I made a note to myself. Then I found out the author was right.

Oh, the shame of it all…

It seems that pendant and pendent are alternative spellings for anything suspended from something (as an adjective) and for nouns.

Where the two don’t mesh is in the adjectives with pendant continuing on with complementing something and pendent sticking out, unfinished, or undecided. And I gotta confess that I’ve never used or read either word being used in these particular meanings.

So that’s one on me!

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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Pendant Pendent
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: pendant and pendent

Intricate carvings hang low from arches in a church

“Rood Screen Arches in the Church of the Madeleine”, Troyes, France, is GO69’s own work under the CC0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.

The arches of this rood screen are a’bloom in pendants.

Long strands of lichen hang from a tree branch

“Bryoria fremontii”, Peyto Lake, Banff, Alberta, by Jason Hollinger is under the CC BY 2.0 license, via Flickr.

This lichen is but one of many that are pendent.

Part of Grammar:
Adjective; Noun
Plural for noun: pendants

Alternative spelling: pendent, pennant

Adjective; Noun
Plural for noun: pendents
Hanging downward

  • Pendent

A piece of jewelry that hangs from a chain worn around the neck or from an earring

  • A necklace with a pice of jewelry dangling from it

A light designed to hang from the ceiling

An ornament suspended from a roof, vault, or ceiling

A separate ring attached to the bow of a pocket watch by which it is suspended

  • [Nautical] A short rope hanging from the head of a ship’s mast, yardarm, or clew of a sail, used for attaching tackles

An artistic, literary, or musical composition intended to match or complement another

  • A match, parallel, companion, or counterpart

[Nautical] Pennant

Hanging down or suspended


  • Jutting
  • Projecting


  • Pending
  • Undetermined


[Grammar; especially of a sentence] Incomplete

See “Pendant” on the left

Lilies-of-the-valley are pendant flowers on frail stems.

Jamie bought me the most gorgeous pendant for my torc.

For Valentine’s Day, George got me a gold necklace with a rose pendant.

Karole Sharpe makes some amazing pendant lamps.

Pendant pocket watches tend to have ornate front cases.

Most pendants aboard ship are named for their use: guy pendants, fish-hook pendants, clear hawse pendants, etc. (Maritime.org).

The triptych’s pendant will occupy the corresponding wall in the south transept.

“A pendant vault is a rare form of vault used in late Gothic architecture in which large decorative pendants hang from the vault at a distance from the walls” (Pendant Vault).

A pendent light over the kitchen island would be perfect.

Pendent lichens include Alectoria, Bryoria, and Usnea.

El Capitan in Yosemite National Park is considered a roof pendent because it was once the roof of the underlying granitic rock.

Is that lawsuit against XYZ still pendent?

The use of jurisdiction to decide pendent claims makes it easier.

A pendent nominative is a construction having no verb.

See “Pendant” on the left

Adjective: nonpendant, pendanted, pendantlike, unpendant Adjective: nonpendent, semipendent, unpendent
Adverb: nonpendently, pendently
Noun: pendency, pendentive
History of the Word:
Middle English denoting an architectural decoration projecting downwards is from the Old French, literally meaning hanging, present participle of the verb pendre, from the Latin pendere. 1275-1325, from the Latin pendent- (a stem of pendēns) and the present participle of pendēre meaning to hang, which replaces the Middle English pendaunt, which is from the Anglo-French — the Old French pendant, which is a present participle of pendre, which is itself from the Latin pendēre.

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:

Yosemite El Capitan by Mike Murphy is under the GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0, or CC BY-SA 2.0 license and Colgante 3 copia is Pedro MGT’s own work under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license; both are via Wikimedia Commons.

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