Homonyms are words that sound identical but differ in meaning. As you might have already found, these tricky terms can be problematic.\r\n\r\nFear not, though! Proofed is here to guide you through your vocabulary-based crises. Today in our ongoing Word Choice series, we tackle \u201ccord\u201d and \u201cchord,\u201d which are confusingly similar even before you get into their tangled etymologies (which, for the sake of simplicity, we\u2019ll ignore).\r\nCord (A String or Rope)\r\nThe noun \u201ccord\u201d can mean a number of things, but the most common uses are to mean \u201ca length of rope\u201d or \u201can electrical cable.\u201d Specifically, the term \u201ccord\u201d is used when describing flexible material thicker than a string but thinner than a rope, or the insulated wire connecting an electrical device to power source:\r\nAfter wrestling Jeremy to the ground, Matilda hogtied him with a length of cord.\r\nIt was an hour before Boris realized his computer was missing its power cord.\r\nAnother common context in which the word \u201ccord\u201d appears is medicine, where it applies to certain anatomical structures (e.g., \u201cumbilical cord,\u201d \u201cvocal cords\u201d).\r\n\r\nThere are a few additional definitions too, such as a measurement for cut wood or the raised ribs on corduroy pants; these latter meanings are quite specialized though, so you probably don\u2019t need to memorize them.\r\nChord (A Pleasing Musical Arrangement)\r\nThe word \u201cchord\u201d is a noun describing \u201cthree or more musical tones being played simultaneously.\u201d On guitar, for example, the chord C is composed of the notes C, E and G. As such, \u201cchord\u201d is usually found in musical contexts:\r\nAs soon as I heard the opening chords of \u201cBorn to Run,\u201d I was an instant Springsteen fan.\r\nSometimes \u201cchord\u201d is also used metaphorically, such as when we say something \u201cstruck a chord\u201d with someone, which means to have made an emotional impact or evoke a reaction:\r\nHarriet didn\u2019t care for politics, but the senator's speech said had struck a chord with the whole crowd.\r\n\r\nCord or Chord?\r\nOnce you know what these words mean, it\u2019s fairly easy to know which to use in any given situation. Simply ask yourself the following question:\r\n\r\n \tAre you describing a length of flexible material or an electrical wire? Or an anatomical structure? If so, use \u201ccord.\u201d\r\n \tAre you describing something musical? Or using the idiom \u201cstrike a chord\u201d? If so, the term you\u2019ll want is \u201cchord.\u201d\r\n\r\nKeep these guidelines in mind to avoid mixing them up in your written work. And to make doubly sure your papers are free from this kind of mistake, you can\u2019t beat the expert eyes of a professional proofreader.