Easily Confused Words: Bier vs. Beer

Bier and beer are easily confused words. They are also homophones, meaning they are pronounced the same, but are spelled differently and mean different things.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Bier (pronounced “beer”) is a noun. It means a pedestal used to support a coffin or casket.

Beer (pronounced “beer”) is a noun. It means a fermented alcohol beverage made from yeast, hops, water, and malted barley. Newer beers that feature sorghum and millet (instead of barley) are gluten-free.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Auntie Beatrix had an unusual request in her will. Rather than a formal funeral, she insisted on a casual affair at the graveyard. Friends shared stories of things she’d done and the impact she’d made on their lives. When guests showed up to her burial, kegs of beer flanked both sides of the bier supporting her coffin. Once her remains were buried in six feet of earth, everyone threw seeds on top of the dirt. Months later, it was the only plot covered in wildflower blooms.


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