Gate - gait

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Gate and gait form one of the sets of homophones listed by the then Poet Laureate Robert Bridges.
(For more, see Bridges homophones). AWE has a category listing our articles on each of these.

  • The word, and particularly the suffix, gate can confuse visitors to the north of England - particularly to parts influenced by the language of the Vikings.
    • In Standard English, a gate is an opening, or the swinging bit of equipment used to close that opening. (A door is usually limited at both top and bottom; a gate is usually open at the top. Doors are very rare in the open air; the entrance to fields and so on is always a gate. In computers and similar devices a gate is a figurative name for a kind of switch used in logic circuits.)
    • In northern dialects, a gate is a 'way' or 'path'. In England, it is most commonly met as an element in the names of streets: 'Whitefriargate' in Hull and 'Micklegate' in York may be familiar, and there are 'Kirkgate's in many places. In these parts, the great entrances through city walls, etc, (Gates in Standard English) are called Bars, so that at the end of Whitefriargate in Hull there is the site of Beverley Bar, and Micklegate in York ends at Micklegate Bar.
  • There is also the word gait, originally the same as the northern gate, which has now diverged to mean not 'path' or 'street', but 'the way one walks': Sherlock Holmes could deduce a person's gait by the track of his footsteps, as modern palaeontologists can estimate how dinosaurs moved from the gaits fossilised in their footprints.