I was watching a documentary with a friend on Wednesday evening. I nearly spat my drink out when I heard the presenter say, “There was just a slither of a new moon…”
I looked at my friend, only to find she was already looking at me. We were both wondering if we had misheard, but we had not.
What should have been said was, “There was just a sliver of a new moon…”
‘Sliver’ and ‘slither’ may sound similar, but they are neither homophones nor synonyms. They are very different words indeed, and therefore should not be confused.
‘Sliver’ is a noun that means a very thin slice. There can definitely be a sliver of a new moon in the sky. One can have a sliver of chocolate, or a sliver of cake, although they may wish for more. A sliver of a chance is also likely to leave one wanting for more. A very slender piece of wood or metal – such as that created by shaving or planing– may also be referred to as a sliver.
‘Slither’ is a verb that means to slide or to move in a squirmy way, as animals without legs do. Snakes and eels contract their muscles so they look to move sideways. So do some worms. Snails and slugs slither in a different way again, looking as though they simply contract and then stretch forward.
So, If someone claims to see a slither of a new moon, they may need to either get their eyes checked or give up drinking.
Easily Confused Words: Slither v. SliverTweet
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2 thoughts on “Easily Confused Words: Slither v. Sliver”
Hmmm. I find that intriguing and somewhat poetic. No? The moon seems to have intention. But is it trying to be sexy or ominous as it slides to reveal this fascinating slither of itself? 😉
Sadly, I don’t think the BBC was trying to be either!