• 3-minute read
  • 11th May 2020

Word Choice: Dear vs. Deer

Today, we will look at the words dear and deer, which are homophones (i.e., words that sound the same but have different meanings). Since they only differ by one letter, it is easy to mix these terms up. Make sure you can use them correctly in your writing by checking out our guide below.

Dear (Beloved or Expensive)

The word “dear” has multiple meanings, but it is usually an adjective meaning “beloved” or “liked very much.” For instance, we could say:

This pipe is dear to me because it belonged to my grandfather.

This sense of “dear” is also a traditional form of address used at the start of letters and emails (e.g., Dear Santa… or Dear Sir/Madam…).

As an adjective, we can also use it to describe something expensive:

Her dream wedding dress was too dear for their budget.

As a noun, meanwhile, it refers to someone who is kind or someone you like:

Jeremy is such a dear; he did my shopping for me last week.

How are you today, my dear?

Finally, it can be an exclamation of surprise, sympathy, or distress:

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Oh dear! I forgot to collect the children from school.

In all these cases, though, you should spell “dear” with an -ea- in the middle

Deer (An Animal)

“Deer” is always a noun and refers to a large four-legged hoofed animal, the males of which have antlers. It can be either singular or plural. For example:

Singular: A male deer is a stag, while a female is a doe.

Plural: I saw six deer on my walk today.

When most people hear the word “deer,” they probably think of animals like Bambi (a mule deer in the Disney film) or Rudolph (a reindeer). But the deer family (Cervidae) also includes bigger animals like moose and elk.

A grumpy deer.
A real deer (arguably less cuddly than Bambi).
(Image: diego_torres)

A group of deer, meanwhile, is known as a “herd” (i.e., a herd of deer).

Summary: Dear or Deer?

These words sound similar, but remember:

  • Dear with an -ea- is usually an adjective meaning “beloved” or “expensive,” though it can sometimes be a noun or an exclamation.
  • Deer with an -ee- is always a noun and refers to a large four-legged hoofed animal, the males of which have antlers.

Hopefully, this will help you avoid mixing up these words. But if you’d like any more help with your spelling or word choice, why not  submit a document for professional proofreading today?

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