Humanities › English When to Use Dear and Deer Commonly Confused Words Share Flipboard Email Print Deer are Often Confused with Dear Because They are Homophones. Tanya Zminkowski/Getty Images English English Grammar An Introduction to Punctuation Writing By Richard Nordquist English and Rhetoric Professor Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester B.A., English, State University of New York Dr. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks. our editorial process Richard Nordquist Updated August 20, 2018 The words dear and deer are homophones: they sound alike but have different meanings.As an adjective or adverb, dear means greatly loved or valued, high-priced, or earnest. (Dear is used with a name as a polite form of address.) As a noun, dear refers to a person who is loved or who's endearing. As an interjection, dear is used to express surprise, sympathy, or distress. The noun deer refers to a hoofed, ruminant mammal. (Plural, deer.) Examples It was hard to say goodbye to such dear friends."My family paid a terrible price, perhaps too dear a price for my commitment."(Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, 2008)"Her dear students were gaping like guppies, their eyes unblinking and their little mouths opening and closing silently." (Joan Hess, Dear Miss Demeanor, 2007)"She took the fall bravely, whacking her thigh painfully on the dressing-table corner. 'Oh dear,' she gasped. 'Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.'" (Kate Morton, The Distant Hours, 2010)The deer is a remarkably adaptable animal, one that can live almost anywhere.