Cite - sight - site

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These homophones are sometimes confused.

  • cite is a verb which means very much the same, for most students, as 'to quote' or 'to make reference to'.
  • sight is usually a noun. It is the abstract noun linked to the verb 'to see'. In connection with weapons and similar tools, the concrete noun 'a sight' is a marker used to point the weapon or tool accurately. (In guns, there are commonly two: the backsight (sometimes called the hindsight), nearer to the shooter at the rear of the weapon, often in the form of a 'V', and the foresight, commonly a vertical bar, or '|' at the front of the weapon. When these two are in line with the target, the '|' in the 'V' aligned with the desired point of impact, the weapon is aimed.
    • When 'sight' is used as a verb, it can be transitive, equivalent to 'catch sight of'. The -ed participle is used in combinations, to describe characteristics of somone's vision, 'short-sighted' in a physical sense, for example; and 'far-sighted' in a more figurative sense to mean 'having a good perception of the future'.
  • site is also primarily a noun, meaning 'a place', mostly in architectural or historical contexts.
    • When site is used as a verb, it means 'to place [in a chosen position]'. An architect may site a building in a prominent position; an army patrol may find itself defeated by a well-sited ambush.