29 interesting words pairs that differ by one letter

Vocabulary aficionados can appreciate the multitude of additional terms that come from a single change.

During a recent trip with my kids, we started playing word games to pass the time in the airport and on the plane. A new game we came up with was to start naming pairs of words that differ by only one letter.

We came up with quite a few simple word pairs, such as cat/bat; rate/date; purr/pure. But the game made me wonder about longer word pairs and how the one-letter difference changed the meanings in interesting ways.

After several searches through online dictionaries, Scrabble dictionaries, blogs, and an article from Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics,* here is a list of such words.

• Abide/abode

• Absorption/adsorption

• Accent /accept

• Befuddle/bemuddle

• Coal/coax

• Claimed/clammed

• Fabled/failed

• Foster/zoster

• Grate/irate

• Hiss/ kiss

• Incommutable/incomputable

• Installation/ instillation

• Jilt/kilt

• Land/ laud

• Loft/lout

• Major/ mayor

• Prescription/ proscription

• Quart/ quartz

• Quest/ guest

• Quilt/built

• Revenge/revenue

• Skull/scull

• Takes/taxes

• Torment/torrent

• Waited/wasted

• Whether/whither

• Whimper/whisper

• Whistle/ whittle

• Wordless/workless

How about you, my fellow wordsmiths? Which pair is your favorite? Any other word pairs to add to the list?

*And yes. There is such a publication as Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics. I am now a subscriber.

Laura Hale Brockway is writer and editor from Austin, Texas. Read more of her work on PR Daily and at Impertinent Remarks.

(Image by Jonathan Rolande via / CC BY 2.0)


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