Berry - bury

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Berry and bury are homophones in RP, pronounced with the first, stressed, vowel as in 'get', IPA: /'bɛrɪ/ - although in some local British accents the verb 'to bury' is realized with a vowel like that of 'up': IPA: /'bʌrɪ/. Bury has two homonyms

  • The noun 'a berry' denotes a small fruit. To botanists, berries have a very precise definition, and include grapes (the predominant meaning in Old English), bananas and tomatoes, neither of which were known when 'berry' came into English (at least a thousand years ago, from a common Germanic root). To most non-botanists, a berry is the edible fruit of a garden, or hedgerow, plant which usually incorporates the -berry as the suffix to its name, like strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, cranberry and so on. (Raspberries, blackberies and their crosses such as tayberries and loganberries can also be seen by botanists as aggregations of drupelets.)
  • The verb 'to bury' means 'to put into the ground', 'to cover with soil'. This is most often used of placing the physical remains of dead people in a grave; but there are many extended and figurative meanings, such as when one might 'bury' a mad relative in an obscure hospital, or an untalented young relative in an out-of-the-way job.
  • The proper noun Bury is a place-name, derived from burgh. The largest is Bury in Lancashire; there are also villages in Cambridgeshire and Wast Sussex, and the town of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. There are also towns in France and Canada, and various Bury Streets and Bury Farms, etc.
LPD notes that some of the families with the surname Bury pronounce it to rhyme with 'fury' and 'jury', IPA: /'bjʊərɪ/