Guerrilla (- guerilla -) gorilla

From Hull AWE
Jump to: navigation, search

Guerrilla and gorilla are homophones in all but the most careful speech - guerilla is a spelling not to be recommended: it is an error.

  • Guerrilla, from the Spanish guerra (with 2 '-r-'s) 'a war' + the diminutive suffix -illa, 'small', originally meant 'a small[-scale] war.' Such conflicts were - and are - typically waged by informal combatants, neither in uniform nor part of a recognized army. These combatants were originally called guerrilleros (or guerilleros), with a suffix denoting 'one who does [the action]'. This word has now been supplanted in English by guerrilla, and guerrillero is lost to our language. The meaning of 'a small war' is now communicated by using guerrilla as an epithet, so that 'a small scale conflict' is now called 'a guerrilla war'. It is waged by guerrillas.
  • A gorilla is a primate ('great ape'), a member of the species Troglodytes gorilla.
  • (The mis-spelling goriller is characteristic of the fictional schoolboy narrator Nigel Molesworth. Avoid it!)