Whine and wine are homophones and easily confused words. Win and Why are alliterative with whine and wine, I’ll explain why I included them in a moment.
The spell-check application of most word processing software wouldn’t catch a slip-up of whine and wine, and wine and win, because it’s not programmed to do so. It is programmed to look for misspelled words or non-existent words. If it’s a word, and it’s spelled correctly, spell-check will breeze right on by.
Often in US grocery stores, I see ‘punny’ (pun + funny) cocktail napkins confusing whine, wine, win, and why for comedic effect. They say things like:
- “Wine A Little” (spoofing Whine A Little)
- “When Life Gets Complicated I Wine” (spoofing When Life Gets Complicated, I Whine)
- “Wine Not” (spoofing Why Not)
This brings a smile to the faces of native speakers, but it’s possibly baffling or misleading for non-native speakers.
I thought it would be fun to clarify all these W’s in a blog post.
Whine is a verb, it means to express discontent with one’s circumstances. Put another way, it means to complain or gripe, typically in a self-pitying, overly dramatic manner. For example, a child doesn’t want to do homework, or his/her chores, so he or she protests, that’s whining. When an adult doesn’t want to do their taxes, their lawn, or go to work Monday morning, his or her protestations are also the act of whining.
Wine is a a noun, meaning an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes. True, there are grape-based vodkas on the market these days, but these liquors are distilled, which is a different process.
Win is a verb, meaning to achieve victory in a sport, a game, or a situation analogous to a sport or game. Win can also be a noun, meaning the achievement you scored by winning.
Why is an adverb when it is asked to derive the purpose of an action or activity.
Why can also be a conjunction when a sentence is explaining the purpose of a cause or activity, even though the speaker may not have one, like when Norah Jones sings, “I don’t know why I didn’t come…”
Why can also be a noun, as in the reasons for something, for example, “the whys and hows of the new office procedure.
Here’s a sentence using all these words, including one version of Why correctly.
Don’t ask me why some whine about not winning when they could be winning wine instead. Why, indeed.