Commonly Confused Words: Sleigh vs. Slay 

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What does each word mean?

A sleigh is a vehicle on runners which is pulled by horses or dogs over snow. As a verb, the word describes the act of riding in a sleigh.

Here is sleigh used in some example sentences:

  • Santa Claus delivers presents in a flying sleigh pulled by reindeer. 
  • Do you hear the sleigh bells jingling? 
  • We sleighed through the snow.

Slay means destroy or kill.

Here is slay used in some an example sentence:

  • The show about a teenager who slays vampire. 

Where does each word come from? 

The word sleigh dates to 1703 and comes from Dutch the ‘slee’, which is a shortened version of the word ‘slede’ and from which the word sled is also derived. Sleigh has been used as a verb since 1728, the term sleigh ride dates to 1770, and the term sleigh bell dates to 1796. 

 Slay comes from the Middle English ‘slēn’, from Old English slean, from the Proto-Germanic ‘slahanan’ meaning ‘to hit’. 

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

  • Think of the word sled to remind you that the first three letters of sleigh are sle
  • Think of sleighing on ice to help you remember this word is spelt with an i

Learn about ei words and ay words in Unit 7.

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21 Dec 2023
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