Commonly Confused Words of Fir and Fur

Commonly Confused Words

Fir tree
Close-up of fir tree. Madeline Dudley-Yates/EyeEm/Getty Images

The words fir and fur are homophones: they sound alike but have different meanings.

The noun fir refers to an evergreen tree with needle-shaped leaves.

The noun fur refers to the soft, hairy coat of an animal or to a garment made of fur.

Examples:

  • "In an area where spruce and fir mingle with quaking aspen, in a cool shady well-watered place, I discover a blue columbine, rarest and loveliest of mountain flowers." (Edward Abbey)
  • "The longing for the silences of the Cascades, the smell of fir boughs at night, the touch of the chinook as it blew over the ridges — these longings were almost irresistible in the oppressiveness of my New York City rooming house." (William O. Douglas)
  • "The main target of the fur trade initially was the beaver, whose soft fur was hammered and compressed to make felt hats for the European gentry." (Miron Heinselman)
  • "In winter, to keep out the pervasive Low Countries chill, men and women alike donned elegant fur-lined dressing gowns that were worn over all the other clothing at home and at the place of work." (Mike Dash)

Practice:

(a) A cool evening breeze brought with it the smell of _____ trees and wild honeysuckle.

(b) Beavers need a thick _____ coat to maintain an adequate body temperature in winter.

Answers to Practice Exercise

(a) A cool evening breeze brought with it the smell of fir trees and wild honeysuckle.

(b) Beavers need a thick fur coat to maintain an adequate body temperature in winter.

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words