Whine - wine

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Whine and wine 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.

These two near-homophones are indistinguishable in a southern English accent (see W - Wh). The context should make it hard to confuse them, but careless writers can spell them the wrong way.

  • The verb 'to whine' means to make a high-pitched, rather nasal noise with the voice; "To utter complaints in a low querulous tone; to complain in a feeble, mean, or undignified way" (OED). One can whine intransitively without words (dogs sometimes do, when they want a door to be opened for them); one can talk in a whining tone - children can be heard to whine in shops when they want something which a parent is refusing to buy, like sweets. There is a rarer noun, a whine is the name of the noise, or complaint.
  • Wine is basically a noun. It means an alcoholic drink. Properly this is made from the juice of grapes; since the sixteenth century at least, it has been transferred to drinks made by fermenting the juice of other fruits, or even vegetables: 'elderberry wine' and 'parsnip wine' are easier to produce in the British climate. Other figurative uses are common. Thomas Carlyle said "Literature is the wine of life" (Thomas Carlyle: a history of the first forty years of his life, 1795–1835 I. xvi. 271 (1882); and uses about the heady effect of weather are common: "Cheered by the keen wine of that dry and bracing frost" (Charles Kingsley, Hereward the Wake, I. Prel. 19 (both quotations cited in OED). There is a verb 'to wine', most commonly in the phrase 'to wine and dine' someone. It means to entertain that person to [a meal, and] alcoholic drink. (Do not confuse its past form wined with the two homographs wind, which is possible by careless typing.)