Cite, Sight, and Site

Commonly Confused Words

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Nordquist, Richard. "Cite, Sight, and Site." ThoughtCo, Jun. 9, 2017, thoughtco.com/cite-sight-and-site-1692719. Nordquist, Richard. (2017, June 9). Cite, Sight, and Site. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/cite-sight-and-site-1692719 Nordquist, Richard. "Cite, Sight, and Site." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/cite-sight-and-site-1692719 (accessed September 23, 2017).
sight cite site Van Gogh
"The sight of the stars makes me dream," wrote Vincent Van Gogh, who painted The Starry Night in June 1889, a year before his death. Leemage/Getty Images

The words cite, sight, and site are homophones: they sound the same but have different meanings.

Definitions

The verb cite means to acknowledge, mention, or quote as an authority or example. (Also see citation.) Cite also means to officially order (someone) to appear in a court of law. In addition, cite means to recognize or praise someone, usually for a notable achievement. 

The noun sight refers to the power or process of seeing or to something that is seen.

The noun site means a plot of land or a particular place or scene.

Examples

  • This style guide explains how to cite sources in a term paper.
  • "I complimented his organization on its unusually courteous and efficient service, and cited the saleswoman as an outstanding example of the store's high caliber."
    (Jerzy Kosinski, Cockpit, 1975)  
  • "When he spoke, I saw that his teeth were white and straight, and the sight of them suddenly made me understand that Grossbart actually did have parents—that once upon a time someone had taken little Sheldon to the dentist.
    (Philip Roth, "Defender of the Faith." Goodbye, Columbus, 1959)
  • "A group of teachers of foreign languages met in Nashville, Tennessee. The Opryland Hotel was the site of the conference."
    (Maya Angelou, Hallelujah! The Welcome Table. Random House, 2007)
     

Idiom Alerts

  • The expression a sight for sore eyes is a way of saying that someone is attractive or that you're very pleased to see some person or thing.
    "Mrs. Evans! you are certainly a sight for sore eyes! I don't know how you manage to look so unruffled and cool and young! With all those children."
    (Jo Britten in James Baldwin's play Blues for Mister Charlie, 1964)
  • The oxymoronic expression sight unseen means to accept or purchase something without first having had an opportunity to look at it.
    "I'll tell you something really crazy. I just bought a house on Nob Hill--three and a half stories and forty rooms. It takes up half a block on Sacramento and Clay, right behind Jim Flood's mansion. I bought it sight unseen.”
    (John Jakes, California Gold. Random House, 1989)
     

    Practice

    (a) "Allanbank was finally demolished, but despite this Jean's ghost has subsequently been seen on the _____ of the house and along the driveway, much to the relief of the local people who have come to love her."
    (Allan Scott-Davies, Shadows on the Water: The Haunted Canals and Waterways of Britain. The History Press, 2010)

    (b) Authors who work on the same subject tend to _____ the same research papers.

    (c) "It was a disgusting _____, that bathroom. All the indecent secrets of our underwear were exposed; the grime, the rents and patches, the bits of string doing duty for buttons, the layers upon layers of fragmentary garments, some of them mere collections of holes held together by dirt."
    (George Orwell, "The Spike." The Adelphi, April 1931)

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    Answers to Practice Exercises: Cite, Sight, and Site

    (a) "Allanbank was finally demolished, but despite this Jean's ghost has subsequently been seen on the site of the house and along the driveway, much to the relief of the local people who have come to love her."
    (Allan Scott-Davies, Shadows on the Water: The Haunted Canals and Waterways of Britain. The History Press, 2010)

    (b) Authors who work on the same subject tend to cite the same research papers.

    (c) "It was a disgusting sight, that bathroom. All the indecent secrets of our underwear were exposed; the grime, the rents and patches, the bits of string doing duty for buttons, the layers upon layers of fragmentary garments, some of them mere collections of holes held together by dirt."
    (George Orwell, "The Spike." The Adelphi, April 1931)