oar vs. ore

What is the difference between oar and ore?

Oar and ore are both pronounced /ɔr/.
Oar is usually a noun referring to a long, thin shaft of wood with a flat blade at the end, used to row or steer boats through the water. It can also function as a verb to describe the action of propelling a boat with an oar. For example:
  • “Grab an oar and help us row, or it will take us forever to get to shore.”
  • “It took over an hour to oar from one side of the canal to the other.”
Unlike oar, ore can only function as a noun, meaning “a mineral or aggregate of minerals found in nature from which valuable constituents can be extracted.” For example:
  • “The trucks haul the ore to the processing plant, where iron deposits are extracted and refined.”

Spelling Tricks and Tips

If you’re trying to remember which spelling is correct, it’s useful to keep in mind that we use an oar to row a boat, and both contain the vowel digraph OA.
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