Commonly confused sound-alike words: Vol. M

Some of these puzzlers are pure homonyms; others look similar, and one pair shares no resemblance at all. How many do you see and hear people get wrong?

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My cumulative list continues with 10 sets of words that begin with the letter M. The confusion relates to spelling or meaning:

1. manner/manor

Manner is a way of doing or behaving. Example: “The waiter has a pleasant and helpful manner.” A manor is a house on an estate. Example: “Cardinal Thomas Wolsey acquired the 14th-century manor at Hampton Court in 1514.” Until King Henry VIII took it away from him, Wolsey was “lord of the manor.”

E-book authors and celebrity watchers seem to be especially prone to write the erroneous “lord of the manner.”

2. mantle/mantel

A mantle is a cloak. The prophet Elijah designated Elisha as his successor by throwing his mantle over him. A mantel is the ornamental shelf above a fireplace on which people display trophies and knickknacks.

3. marshal/Marshall

In modern English, a marshal is an officer of the U.S. Justice Department or a parade leader. In Old English, a marshal was a servant whose job was to tend the horses. The occupation of marshal is reflected in the surname Marshall, but the double-l spelling is only for the proper name.

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