Easily Confused Words: Guerilla vs. Gorilla

Guerilla and gorilla are easily confused words. They are also homophones, meaning they sound the same, but are spelled differently and mean different things.

Guerilla (pronounced “goh-rill-uh”) has multiple meanings. It comes from the Spanish language.

  • As an noun, it means a fighting method where fighters hide and shoot from scattered points, instead of marching in a big block and shooting from that lineup. Historically, guerilla warfare has helped smaller, outmanned rebel fighters defeat larger, more organized armies.
  • As an adjective, it can describe warfare scenarios. In a figurative sense, it decribes clever, untraditional tactics for achieving goals.

Gorilla (pronounced “goh-rill-uh”) is a noun. It means a large, muscular, furry ape that has brown and/or black fur. It lives in thickly forested areas in Africa and eats plants. They walk by using their long arms with fisted hands; they bring up the rear on their short rear legs. Though their physique is intimidating, gorillas are shy, gentle animals. Aggression only comes into play in stressful situatons, like rivaling males intruding on another’s turf, or mothers defending babies.

In the movies, monstrously sized gorillas have been used as monsters for blockbuster films like King Kong.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Gordon was writing a graphic novel about a dystopian world without humans. In it, the apes had taken over formerly human civilizations. The chimps had an organized army, while the gorillas used guerilla warfare methods.

 

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