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Commonly Confused Words: Pore vs. Pour


What does each word mean?
As a noun, the word ‘pore’ refers to a tiny hole in a surface (e.g. the skin) which allows particles, liquids, or gases to pass through it. As a verb, it is used to describe the act of reading or studying something thoroughly.

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is pore used in some example sentences:

  • She uses a pore-minimising lotion.
  • In the weeks leading up to his exam, he stayed up all night poring over his books.

Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists featuring the word pore.

If you are pouring something, you are causing it to flow quickly and steadily. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is pour used in some example sentences:

  • Please could you pour some water for our guests?
  • Make sure you pack an umbrella with you – it’s going to pour later.
  • After the play, the audience poured out of the theatre and into the street.

Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists featuring the word pour.

Where does each word come from?
Pore, to mean tiny opening, has existed in the English language since the late fourteenth century. It comes from the Greek ‘poros’ meaning ‘passage, way’.

The verb pore has been used in English (to mean ‘gaze intently’) since the early thirteenth century, but its origin is unknown. One theory is that it comes from the Old English ‘purian’ which means ‘to investigate, examine’.

Pour is also of unknown origin. It has been used in English since around 1300. One theory is that it comes from the Latin ‘purare’ meaning ‘to purify’.

Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between these words?

  • Think of the o in pore as a small hole to help you remember what it means.
  • The u in pour is the same shape as a cup. Imagine pouring water into the u to help you remember the word is spelt with that letter.

Where can I find other posts about easy-to-confuse words?

What words do you constantly mix up? Let us know and we’ll cover them in our Commonly Confused Words series.

Have a great week!

Sources: The Online Etymology Dictionary


28 Mar 2016
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