steak vs. stake

What is the difference between steak and stake?

Stake and steak are both pronounced the same way: /steɪk/.
The word stake has a few different meanings. Most commonly, it is a noun referring to a pointed shaft made of metal or wood used to mark something or secure something to the ground; by extension, it can also function as a verb to describe the action of marking or securing something with a pointed shaft. For example:
  • “Make sure you hammer down those stakes really firmly; we don’t want the tent blowing away in the wind.”
  • “We finally finished staking out a patch of grass in the backyard where the dogs can run around.”
Stake also has another common meaning: “money, property, or other valuables risked by a player in a bet or gambling game,” or, by extension, “a financial interest or personal involvement in something.” It can also function as a verb to describe the act of risking money or other valuables for a gamble. For instance:
  • “I like poker, but I never play when there are real stakes involved.”
  • “She has a major stake in the company.”
  • “I can’t believe he would stake his car for such a silly bet.”
  • “We’ve staked our company’s future on the success of this product.”
The homophone steak has a much narrower definition: it can only function as a noun, meaning “a thick slice of meat from an animal or large fish, usually beef,” as in:
  • “We went to that new restaurant last night, and I had the most delicious steak there.”
  • “Tuna steak is really tasty, but it can be pretty pricey.”

Spelling Tricks and Tips

If you’re trying to remember which spelling is correct, remember that a steak is a piece of meat, so it will be spelled with the digraph EA. If you are not talking about meat, the spelling should be stake.
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