Commonly Confused Words: Broach vs. Brooch

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What does each word mean?

Broach is a verb that means ‘to bring up a topic of discussion’.

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

Here is broach used in an example sentence:

  • It was a difficult subject to broach, but she finally worked up the courage to ask for a raise.

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

Brooch, on the other hand, is a noun. The word is used to describe a type of ornament which is pinned onto clothing.

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

Here is brooch used in some example sentences:

  • This brooch was passed down to me from my grandmother.
  • Every member of the secret society wears the same brooch.

Where does each word come from?

Don’t feel bad if you occasionally mix these two words up – they’re more similar than you might originally think. Both broach and brooch come from the Old French ‘broche’.

In the early thirteenth century, ‘broche’ meant ‘long needle’ and, by the fourteenth century, it came to mean ‘pointed instrument’. The spelling of the word changed to brooch as the word began being used specifically to refer to an ornamental pin.

The verb from of ‘broche’ was ‘brochier’ which meant ‘to spur’ or ‘to penetrate’. In the sixteenth century, the word was used figuratively to mean ‘to begin to talk about’ with the suggestion of ‘spurring in to action’.

The next time you accidentally write brooch when you mean broach, why not try arguing that you meant it metaphorically? Let us know how it goes!

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

If you don’t want to risk mixing up your spellings, here are two tips to help you remember when to use which word:

  • Think of the following sentence: ‘He needed to report the roach infestation to his landlord, but found it a difficult subject to broach.’
  • Think of two people in a secret club wearing matching circle-shaped brooches, to help you remember that the word is spelt with two Os.

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

08 Jun 2016
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"This is a fantastic opportunity for our students!  I'm sure Spellzone will be invaluable in helping them to improve their spellings and therefore improve the quality of their writing in all subject areas!"

Teacher, High School, UK