Sweat - sweet

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Don't fall into the error of typing sweat when you mean sweet.

  • Sweat (pronounced to rhyme with 'get' and 'let'; and with similar spelling of the vowel to 'head, 'dead' and 'bread') may be either a noun or a verb. The general meaning is 'perspiration', the water (and salts) excreted through the skin as a reaction to excess heat or hard physical effort. It is often used figuratively to mean effort, as in the punishment of Adam for his Original Sin: "Thou shalt eat thy bread in the sweat of thy brow."
    • The verb 'to sweat' means 'to perspire'. Figuratively it can mean, as well as 'to work hard', 'to suffer [particularly torture or other forms of interrogation or punishment': "I'll make him sweat for this."
  • The adjective (occasionally used substantively) Sweet (pronounced to rhyme with 'meet', 'feet', and - confusingly - 'meat' and 'seat') denotes one of the basic tastes (traditionally the four of sweetness, sourness, saltiness and bitterness, to which umami was added in the twentieth century. Sweetness - the taste predominantly of sugars - is desirable to humans, as it signals easily digestible foods that are rich in energy.
    • This quickly gave rise to many figurative meanings:
      • 'wholesome, good to consume', as in 'sweet water', i.e. potable, rather than salt or brackish, water, and 'sweet milk, as opposed to various forms of soured or fermented milks; 'sweet breads', as opposed to sourdough (though note that the single word sweetbread[s] denotes various forms of offal, the thymus and the pancreas from an animal carcase, held to be delicious)
      • '[anything] pleasurable or desirable - 'nice'', as in 'the sweet smell of flowers, or soap'; 'melodious', like birdsong (sometimes birds themselves are described as sweet), or harmonious, like music; pleasing to the eye, such as "sweet sixteen", the age of perceived maturity and attractiveness in a young woman.
  • As a noun, a sweet or sweetie (earlier a sweetmeat) is a candy in American English
      • an endearment, "My sweet!", sometimes


Sweets to the sweet, farewell! I hop'd thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife: