Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but differ in meaning and can be a daily nuisance to closed captioners and transcribers, who rely solely on what they hear when captioning and transcribing programs. Here is a list of the most commonly misused homophones that I tend to encounter while captioning:
adverse vs. averse—adverse means unfavorable. Averse means reluctant.
descendent vs. descendant—Apparently, descendent is now considered a dead word. Always stick with descendant when referring to something derived from an earlier person, animal, or thing.
complement vs. compliment—Complement is something that adds to something else. A compliment is something nice that someone says about you.
inequity vs. iniquity— Inequity is an injustice. Iniquity is a sin.
insure vs. ensure—Insure relates to insurance only (think car insurance.) Ensure means to guarantee something.
peak vs. peek vs. pique—Peak is a high point, such as on a mountain. Peek is when you look at something. Pique means to excite your interest.
profit vs. prophet—Profit is a net income or measure of gain. A prophet is someone who foretells future events.
whose vs. who’s—Whose is something that belongs to someone else (Whose idea is this?) Who’s is a contraction meaning who is or who has. (Who’s learning about homophones today?)