Rogue Words from A to Z: Braying About Braids

A to Z Letter BIt’s amazing how many vowel combinations can be used to make the same sound. Take the long “a” sound, for example. This sound can be written using ay, ai, ey, ei, or a/consonant/silent e. Then there are the exceptions. I salute anyone who takes on English as a second language, because it’s a mess.

There are a lot of these tricky words, but I’ve been asked to talk about the word braid. How do you remember how to spell braid? With the help of Shrek, naturally.

Who would you rather be – Princess Fiona or Donkey?

(I really hope you said Fiona.)

Princess Fiona

And here she is, folks…

Whether Fiona looks like a human or an ogre, she’s got wonderful hair. Her hair is often styled in a rope braid. A rope braid consists of two strands of hair wrapped around each other. If a braid has at least three strands, it can be called a plait.  Fiona likes to plait her hair into a braid. Both of these words make the long “a” sound using ai. (Just like the word hair.) So think about Fiona plaiting her hair, and you will remember how to spell braid.

Note: If you’d rather be Donkey instead, you will be remembered as a creature with bad hair who constantly brayed at everyone. Instead of showing off your beautful plait, you will be tempted by waffles on a plate and will force your friends to have to rescue you from your idiocy.

So please be Fiona, and enjoy your braid.


Update: Given all the discussion on this post, I’ve updated the definitions of plait and braid, to avoid any confusion. 🙂

Image of Fiona from Shrek

This post is dedicated to Nicole De Courval. Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, where I will chase after the cruel letter C…


© Sue Archer and Doorway Between Worlds, 2015

60 thoughts on “Rogue Words from A to Z: Braying About Braids

  1. I didn’t even know braids meant two and plaits meant three. Every girl on the planet is using that word wrong, I think, haha! I’d definitely rather be Fiona. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I honestly didn’t know there was a difference between braid and plait! THANK you for the enlightenment sue, now, i’ve got one-up on my sisters in English 😂. Time to question their braid-plait knowledge :D.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Ameena, I’ve updated my braid/plait definition, since it was a bit misleading…would hate to have you lose a bet to your sisters! (Normally a braid has at least two strands, while plait refers to something that has at least three.) Just thought I should let you know. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This brought enlighten to my 2nd language and to my daily hair routine. Fiona for sure is my choice! Your explanation and examples really made it easier for me, for the pronunciation as well as the writing of braid. Learning so much from your daily post, and having a great time doing so! You made the “boring letter B” amusing. thanks

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well, apparently my friends will just have to rescue me from my idiocy, because Donkey is the best! Plus, who isn’t tempted by waffles? 😉

    Oh my, I had no idea there was a difference between braid and plait. I’ve been using it wrong for, like, ever. Thanks for the lesson! 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yay, a vote for Donkey! 🙂 I must admit waffles are yummy. I didn’t know the difference between braid and plait, either, until I started investigating…so much to discover about words!


  5. I really, really, love the play with words you have going on here! It is truly amazing that anyone understands English. Probably why we have so many lawyers and politicians 😉 One of the things I had a professor write on a board one time was the made up word “ghoti” How would you pronounce this? ‘gh’ as in enough, ‘o’ as in women, the ‘ti’ like function. Put it together and you have fish! 🙂 Yes amazing that we can communicate at all. Keep up the amazing posts!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Well, yes, let me tell you, English is a mess in terms of writing. I costantly write words wrong because I know how to pronounce them, but I’m unsure how to write them. And the Word auto-correction doesn’t help, most of the time…

    I’m kind of relieved I’m not the only one who didn’t know there is a difference between braid and plait.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes, auto-correction…sometimes I think that function hurts more than it helps.

      I’ve updated my definition on braid vs. plait, because it was a little confusing. It’s a small difference in usage, but not really that important. 🙂


    1. Fiona was awesome. In practice, braid and plait are used interchangeably, but I thought it was interesting that there is a distinction, even if it is a small one. 🙂


  7. I like Fiona for all the great fighting moves she has, both as a princess and an ogre. It’s funny you’re writing about her, because we’ve just been rewatching the Shrek movies for A to Z reasons. And I always thought braids had three strands, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have all of the movies. In some ways I like the last one the best, since it has so much heart (even if it is a bit grim at times). I’ve updated my post because the braid vs. plait thing was causing confusion. A braid has at least two strands, while plait is applied to braids that have at least three strands. So you’re not wrong! (This is what happens when you write too many posts back to back.)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Anabel! You’re not being difficult at all – I realize my post is very specific to certain accents, how hopelessly Canadian of me! Now I am curious. If you don’t mind me asking, how do those words differ for you? I can see why hair would be different, but how do you pronounce braid and plait?


  8. I just loved this! I home schooled both of my children when they were growing up. I used to enjoy coming up with clever and entertaining ways to explain things. I wish your blog had been around back then.


    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for promoting the understanding of these terms. My heroines often have long hair, so the terms “plait” and “braid” come up a lot. I get really miffed when I come across errors in my reading about braiding and related terms. (And I want Fiona’s dress!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fiona’s dress is fabulous! There’s something about velvety fabrics. And that’s great to hear that “plait” and “braid” matter for your writing – I think it’s a distinction that’s largely lost, so it’s wonderful to have it still in practice. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Communication and words are things that interest me a whole lot. I’ve been very lazy with grammar (kind of a rebel I guess), but I must visit you more often to brush up 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re welcome here any time! I didn’t learn a lot of grammar growing up, and thought it was dreadfully boring. I was fortunate to have a grammar teacher in university who made it fun, so now I try to do the same for others. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Oh I didn’t know there was a difference between a braid and a plait — I assumed they meant the same thing. Every girl out there has probably been using this wrong! I’ll bear it in mind next time I have a character with a braid or a plait — I have a feeling I’ll need to come back here to remember which is which!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t know this either until I started doing some research. It’s amazing how the meanings of words can stretch and evolve over time as people use them. 🙂


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