Gait and gate are easily confused words. They are also homophones, meaning they sound the same, but they 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.
Gait (pronounced “gayt”) is a noun. It means the rhythm of walking and running. People and animals have them.
- If you’ve ever had a leg injury, relearning your gait is part of the process of walking normally once again.
- If you’ve ever watched a horse or dog race, the commentators’ may discuss an animal’s gait.
Gate (pronounced “gayt”) is a noun.
- It means a door to a fence or other outdoor enclosure that delineates someone’s property.
- It can also mean a security door that demands visitors use a keypad or a callbox to allow grant entry into a neighborhood. Before keypads and call boxes, a human gatekeeper would check for an access badge (sticker, plate, etc.) or make a phone call to the destination to verify entry is allowed by a visitor before allowing access. A gatekeeper typically had a booth or shelter in front of the gate.
The following story uses both words correctly:
Gatsby knew something was wrong the minute his horse left the gate. Sure enough, it had broken its back leg but was still attempting to run. It had an awkward gait that looked extremely painful with each step the horse made.