Humanities › English Commonly Confused Words Fir and Fur Commonly confused words Share Flipboard Email Print Madeline Dudley-Yates/EyeEm/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 February 18, 2019 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 Exercise (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.