Wander or wonder?

13 Apr

This Troublesome Pair was suggested by a reader of one of my previous posts. Do keep your suggestions coming if there’s one you are confused about yourself or notice other people mixing up!

Wonder and wander is probably another pair that gets mixed up because the two words sound (fairly) similar, or exactly the same in some accents.

To wander is to move around aimlessly, to walk or move in a leisurely manner through or over an area. You might “wander lonely as a cloud” across the Lake District, for example (thanks to Wordsworth). A wander (the noun) is an aimless walk.

To wonder is to feel curious or desire to know, or to feel wonder, as in surprise and admiration caused by something unfamiliar, unexpected or beautiful (wonder (noun) being that feeling). “The sunset caused a sense of wonder in the onlookers”; “Mary wondered where her lamb had got to”.

To distinguish the two: “Mary wandered all over the farm, wondering where she had left her lamb”.

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.


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4 responses to “Wander or wonder?

  1. Vanessa Chapman

    April 13, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Oohhh! Me! Me! I was the reader of a previous post who suggested this one. Is there a prize? 😉


  2. Liz at Libro

    April 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Ah – so it was! The prize is … to see the post you suggested published? And your name associated with it (now!). Will that do?!


  3. Tammy Ditmore

    October 3, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Just saw this post, Liz. One of my favorite typos I’ve corrected was in an astronomy textbook: “Moons that wonder inside the Roche limit can be torn apart….” It makes me giggle every time I think about a contemplative moon!



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