Miner - minor

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Don't confuse the homophones miner and minor. They are both pronounced 'MY-ne(r)', IPA: /'maɪnər/.

  • A miner is a person who mines - that is, digs to extract minerals such as coal or the ores of various metals from the ground. The word is almost always a noun, although very occasionally used as an epithet.
  • Minor (from the Latin comparative adjective minor, 'less', 'smaller') is basically an adjective meaning 'less important', 'junior', 'smaller' - and with various specialized meanings in, for example, music, maths, religion and surgery. It is used substantively as a noun:
    • most often in ordinary speech for a young person who has not yet reached the age at which officials and the law recognize an adult (in the UK, under the age of majority, currently (2016) 18) - note that majority, as above, is the antonym of minority, ain the same way as its root major is the antonym of minor;
    • in religious circles, a member of the Franciscan Order, the Fratres Minores ('Lesser brothers');
    • and as a substantive relating to one of the specialized uses.
  • A third homophone is much less often used: myna (sometimes spelled mina or mynah). This is the name of a south-east Asian genus of starling, of which several species exist. They are known for their ability to mimic, and can be taught to 'talk', by imitating the sounds of human speech. Consequently they are sometimes kept as pets or caged birds, like parrots.