So, I was going through all the words I could think of that end in -eat, and I realized that there’s one word that doesn’t rhyme with any of the others: great. And I tried to think of a word that rhymed with great that ended in -eat, and I couldn’t think of one. I even checked a rhyming dictionary, and none of the words that rhyme with great end in -eat.
Heat, meat, beat, seat, peat, treat, bleat, neat, feat, cheat, cleat, pleat, and wheat all rhyme with each other, but great doesn’t. If it did, it’d sound like greet. But great and greet are two different parts of speech, and mean different things. Great sounds like grate, but again, they’re different parts of speech, and their meanings are different. Maybe the Grand Poobahs of the English language decided to spell it differently because of this.
Why didn’t they spell it greight, then? I mean, it rhymes with eight, and weight, and Haight, as in Haight-Ashbury.
While I’m at it, compleat and complete are the same word, pronounced the same and with the same meaning. Why two spellings? One looks cooler than the other? I had a friend that pronounced the former “cahm-plee-aht.” Is that how it’s supposed to be pronounced? Why would you say it that way, anyway? I mean, it’s “cum-pleet” versus “cahm-plee-aht.” One’s two syllables, the other’s three.
I’m sure someone with a background in etymology will leave a comment, explain the whole thing, and make me feel like an idiot. See, I’m supposed to know things like that, because I took three years of Latin and two of Greek in high school because my mother told me to. “It’ll help you with English!” she claimed. What did she think I had been speaking for the first fourteen years of my life? Finnish? The only people who speak Latin nowadays are either celibate or dead. And the Greek? It wasn’t like the kind of Greek they speak nowadays. Nooooo…. It was Homeric Greek. The kind the blind storyteller used to speak.
A bust of the blind storyteller himself, at the British Museum. Public domain, thanks to JW1805 at Wikipedia.
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