Raise - raze

From Hull AWE
Jump to: navigation, search

Raise and raze 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..

Raise and raze are two homophones (words that sound the same) with almost exactly opposite meanings. Be careful not to confuse them. Both are verbs, and may be found in similar contexts.

  • 'To raise' means 'to lift up', and in discussion of buildings etc 'to build', 'to construct', 'to erect'.
  • 'To raze' (with a '-z-': it is from the same root as razor) is now almost entirely limited to the construction razed to the ground, used in the context of buildings: 'to demolish', 'to flatten', 'to destroy to the level of the earth on which it stands'.
    • The central meaning is 'to scrape'. It was formerly much more used, in the meanings
      • to shave, as in a clean-shaven man's daily ritual, or to scrape off, as in some surgical procedures - and formerly as part of cleaning, for example a stained table-top
      • 'to erase', or 'obliterate', writing, or an error in writing - originally done, in the days of parchment, by scraping the ink off the surface (often in the construction 'razed out of ...' or 'razed from ...' (e.g. the book of honour))
      • 'to "scrape"' or 'come close to', 'to touch', as, for example, a ship's keel may 'raze' on a sandbank. Sometimes, in the context of people or other animals, this has the sense of "a puny wound", as in
Yet did a splinter of his lance Through Alexander's visor glance,
And razed the skin—a puny wound (Scott, Marmion, iii. xxvi. 159 (cited OED). This meaning is close to that of 'graze' (OED s.v. graze, verb 2).
      • 'to level', 'to scrape off' - specifically, of corn being measured in a standard vessel, i.e. levelling the contents with the top of the sides of the container
    • Confusingly, the verb now always written raze was regularly written rase until the seventeenth century, and commonly until the twentieth. It is essentially the same word as 'to erase'