homonym trouble: does your cache have cachet?

For the holidays, a little wordplay fun.

At a public educational gathering last week I heard two educators at two different events toss off references to a minor concept in computing—using the wrong word. You ask, “if they were homonyms, how did you know it was the wrong word?” Okay, well let’s use the loose definition of homonym that allows for differences in spelling and non-identical pronunciation (maybe I’m asking too much). Check out Wikipedia for all the options: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homonym.

Cache, pronounced kash, in the way it was meant last week, refers to how our browsers store information from visited Web pages to make future visits to those spots happen more easily. You might know the cache on your browser as the Temporary Internet Files or you might just know it as the cache. As Merriam-Webster notes, it can also refer to a hiding place—where you might store your cache of stolen goods, for example: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/CACHE. Or you might be familiar with geocaching (jee-oh-kashing), where people hide and find hidden objects using their GPS devices, a kind of scavenger hunt.

Cachet, pronounced kashay, is a mark of prestige that an object or person possesses; physically, it was a kind of seal, perhaps like the Seal of Good Housekeeping! http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Cachet.

But here’s the interesting part—both words come from the same French word cacher, which could mean both to press or to hide!

No big deal, but you could gain a kind of cachet if you pronounce the words right the next time you use them.

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Categories: communication, computers

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