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Understanding Homophones: Wether, Weather & Whether

What do a castrated goat, today’s forecast, and a tricky conjunctionhave in common? Grammarly’s Shundalyn Allen breaks down these homophones. From white papers to screenplays, make sure to pay close attention to keep from confusing them—or ones like your writing!

Wether vs. Weather vs. Whether—What’s the difference?

A wether is a ram or goat that is castrated at a young age. Unless you work with livestock, you are not likely to use the term very often. However, one word that you may know derives from wether. Shepherds and goatherds attach a bell to the lead animal and call it a bellwether. The word now describes anyone who leads. In an election, counties or states are bellwethers when they seem to indicate which direction the country will go. Notice this explanation of bellwether in the quote below and a usage example of wether:

And shepherds would tie a bell to one of their trained wethers and let that wether find the path or answer the call. . . And the bell would jangle, and the other sheep would go along. So in politics, the bellwether is a state that signals the direction of the whole flock of states.

NPR

There were a lot of happy wether sellers at the Jamestown, South Australia, sheep market last Thursday.

Stock & Land

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