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Crazy English

by Leon


Crazy Vocabulary          Crazy Spelling / Pronunciation



 Crazy Vocabulary


Making sense of the heretofore UN-explained

Fruits & Vegetables VEGETABLE (definition)
1(a)    [Out-dated definition]  a plant; herb.  [Nowadays, we say, "Plant"]
2(a)    a plant which is grown for the edible parts.
2(b)    [Modern English] the edible parts of plants.

[Source: Merriam Webster's online dictionary]

FRUIT (definition)
1(a) a product of plant growth (as grain, vegetables, or cotton)
        Example: "the fruits of the field"
1(b) (1) : the usually edible (not always edible) reproductive body of a seed plant
        (2) : a product of fertilization in a plant; specifically : the ripened ovary of a seed plant
2(c)  [metaphorically] offspring, progeny

[Source: Merriam Webster's online dictionary]

Let's look at some examples:

Vegetables NOT
(and tubers)
(and stalks)
(and flowers)
(seed-bearing part)
(seed-bearing part)
(not edible)
Potatoes Celery Lettuce Tomatoes Rose Hips
Carrots Rhubarb Cabbage Bell Peppers Gourds
Onion (bulbs) Green onion
Broccoli Beans Osage Orange
Ginger ? Cauliflower Corn Yew Berries
Peanuts ? Spinach Rice Holly Berries
Turnips turnip stalks turnip greens Almonds Ivy Berries
Beets ? sesame leaves Cashews Nightshade Berries

Some fruits are vegetables (because they are edible).
However, some fruits are NOT vegetables (because they're not edible).

I have often had debates with people about whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable.  According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, tomatoes are BOTH a fruit AND a vegetable.


Strawberry is not a berry?!!!


Tomatoes are fruits?!!!

Correct.  Strawberries are NOT berries and Tomatoes ARE fruits!  A berry has its seeds in the middle, surrounded by a fleshy pulp.  See the table below.  A tomato is a berry and a strawberry is called an 'aggregate' fruit, because it come from multiple ovaries to make one fruit.
Berries Aggregates
Tomatoes Strawberries
Bananas Raspberries
Grapes Blackberries
Peanut is not a nut? Correct.  It's not.  It's a part of the root.  True nuts are a kind of fruit (the seed-bearing part of the plant)
(two meanings)



This is another "Latinglish" word.  In Latin, it means 'grass' [and that is 'grass' in the broad sense, including all grain-bearing plants].  But, in English, it has quite a different meaning.  Actually, it has two meanings:

1.  a plant with no woody tissue (this is quite close to the Latin meaning, but, we don't use this meaning nowadays in English).

2.  a plant valued for its medicinal, savory, or aromatic qualities.  (this is the common meaning used by English-speakers these days).

Ironically, an "herbivore" is an herb-eating creature (by the LATIN definition).


plant This is another "Latinglish" word.  In Latin, it is a noun: 'planta' (sole) & a verb: 'plantare' (to put one's sole on the floor/ground).  In English, the verb has the same meaning, but the noun... Well, it means:

the noun: plant =

(1) any growing thing that has a cell wall and chlorophyll.

(2) any non-animal, growing thing, growing out of the ground/soil.

(3) a factory (which is planted/built on the ground)

I know what you are thinking:  "Where else would one build a factory?"  I don't know... in the sea perhaps, and even then, it might still be called a 'plant'.  Who knows?  English is a crazy language!

This is a case of polysemy.  See my polysemy page for more details.


embarrass This is another confusing word.  It came to English from Latin 'imbarrare' -to-> French embarasser -to-> English 'embarrass'.   em = "in", and "barra" = bar.  Literally, it means 'to bar' or 'to put in bars', but it carries abstract meanings as well, such as 'to hinder'.  In Spanish (embarazar) also means to impregnate.

In English, it only carries the abstract meaning of-- making ((sb)) feel confused, mentally frustrated, and/or self-conscious.

Note:  English has a lot of words "borrowed" from Latin, but English has changed the meaning, perhaps a case of verbicide.


troop(s) This is the craziest word I have ever seen regarding meaning.  A troop is a group of persons, usually soldiers, and yet it is often used to represent one single soldier.  For example,  "There are 37,000 US troops in Korea" means "There are 37,000 US soldiers in Korea."

But, in the Boy Scouts of America, a troop is a groups of scouts.  Crazy English!


Driveway/Parkway We park a car on a driveway.

We drive a car on a parkway.

Crazy English!

take "Take" means to physically obtain something (usually something concrete, but can be something abstract).  And yet, it seems to lose its meaning in various English idioms. See:
take =
obtain concrete thing
take =
obtain abstract thing
take =
take a photo take a break take a bow
"give and take" take a chance take a dump
  take a "crack" at take a leak
- take one's time take a look
  take sb's stuff w/o permission take a smoke
- take a ride take a swim
- - take a walk
- - take a whiff

take (sb) in  (accept someone into one's home)
take (sth) in  (learn something)
take (sb) down (ruin sb's reputation)
take (sb) on  (fight sb)
take (sb) out
(make sb lose a fight; kill sb)



If the plural of goose is geese, why isn't the plural of moose meese?
bow /bou/; n. a curve (like rainbow, or bow & arrow)
bow /bou/; n. a kind of tie (bowtie)
bow /bau/; v.  to bend at the waist for an audience at the end of a performance; n. a bend at the waist
bow /bau/; n. the front part of a boat/ship
bow wow /bau wau/; sound of a dog

Crazy Spelling / Pronunciation

silent "b"
-omb -umb other
bomb dumb debt
comb thumb  


pronunciation:  /bu-i:/

pronunciation:  /bai/  

/ tf / / k / / sh /
(Usually pure English, but not always) (Greek English) (French English)
champion ache chauffeur
cherry chemical Cheri
chick chiropractor chic
chocolate chromium Chopin
chunky chronic champagne
church chronometer Chicago
chapter stomach  crochet
short e sound long e sound
bread bead
dead eat
head lead
read (past) read (present)
/ et / / ei /
banquet ballet (kind of dance)
racquet bouquet (bunch of flowers)
ticket buffet (all-you-can-eat)
toilet crochet (kind of knitting)
widget croquet (kind of game)
/ u: / / ju: / 
blew (past of blow) ewe (female sheep)
flew (past of fly) few (not many)
grew (past of grow) pew (a bench in church)
new [US] new [UK]
/ i: / / ei / / ai /
honey hey eye
key grey Eyring
money whey Frey
Finnish/finish Finnish (adj) of Finland; /finish/

finish (v.) to complete (sth); /finish/

The Finnish person did finish the project.

silent g gnat
no sound / f / / p /
eight enough hiccough
right rough x
though tough x
bough (branch) laugh x
silent "k" knife
silent "l" talk
~o do, to

What?!!!!!  "o" sounds like "oo"??????  Why?

~oe shoe  = /shu:/
toe     = /tou/

What the...?

~omb Bomb   /bam/
Comb   /koum/
Tomb   /tu:m/     Womb  /wu:m/

Truly crazy pronunciation of English!




one /wn/
This is one of the craziest words regarding pronunciation.  I remember when I was in primary school and I was learning how to spell.  One day I was writing a letter and I asked my mother how to spell "1".  She said, "O-N-E."  I wrote it down, then I said, "Mom, come on! Don't trick me, Mom."  She said, "No, really, that's how it is spelled."  I asked, "Why?"  She said that she didn't know.  I remember thinking, "That is stupid!"

two /tu:/
Why?  Well, to and too had already been taken, but why not "tu"?  I don't know.  See my homophones page.

four /for/
Why?  Well, for had already been taken, but they could have made a homonym.  Why not?  I don't know.  See my homonyms page.




book boot blood brooch
good food flood door
stood mood x floor
took toot x Moor

Crazy English Pronunciation!

silent "p" receipt
Polish/polish Polish (adj) of Poland; /polish/

polish (v.) to make (sth) shiny; /palish/

A Polish person can polish his/her shoes.

sew sew = /sou/
s / ss
/s/ /sh/ /zh/ /z/
ass issue Asia as
mass nauseous casual because
pass sugar pleasure clause
sailing sure usual is
wassailing tissue vision was
silent s island, aisle
silent t listen, castle, whistle, wrestle, fasten, often
~ue, ~ueue cue /kyu/ = (1) a thing said or done to signal somebody to do something
                    (2) a wooden rod for striking a ball in billiards or pool
queue /kyu/ = (1) a line of people; (2) to make a line of people

suede /sweid/ = rough cow hide (not smooth leather)

~uit fruit  /fru:t/

suit  /su:t/

suite  /sweet/

silent "w" answer
write, wrote, written
warm/worm Why is "warm" pronounced like "worm" and why is "worm" pronounced like "wyrm"?

I think it is because "worm" was originally spelt "wyrm", but I could be wrong.

wind/wind wind /wind/ = breeze, a gust of air

wind /waind/ = to turn something, usually something which will turn back automatically








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