Happy Christmas! Our present to you? Some homophones! What do you mean you wanted a puppy? Oh well. For now, all we have is vocabulary advice on two words you might see at this time of year: mince and mints.\r\n\r\nSo, what do they mean? How can you avoid errors when using them? And what exactly is a mince pie anyway? Let\u2019s take a look.\r\nMincemeat and Mince (Chopped Up Fruit or Meat)\r\nIn the US, \u201cmince\u201d refers to finely chopped meat. For example:\r\nSpaghetti bolognese is made with beef mince.\r\nAnd while they do have this meaty "mince" in the UK, a \u201cmince pie\u201d is a tasty Christmas treat without any meat in it. The \u201cmince\u201d in these pies is actually mincemeat, a sweet, spicy mixture of dried fruits:\r\nWe spooned the mincemeat into the pies.\r\nThis is because \u201cmeat\u201d used to be a term for all food, not just animal flesh, so \u201cminced meat\u201d was simply \u201cchopped food.\u201d And while mince pies have not caught on in the US, they are popular in other parts of the world.\r\n\r\n[caption id="attachment_12823" align="aligncenter" width="413"] Mince pies!(Photo: darianstibbe\/Pixaba[\/caption]\r\n\r\nAs a verb, meanwhile, mince has two distinct meanings:\r\n\r\n \tTo cut food into fine pieces (e.g., We minced the beef for dinner)\r\n \tTo walk with small, dainty steps (e.g., He minced across the room)\r\n\r\nFinally, we have a much older usage of \u201cmince\u201d that referred to using polite language. This is where the phrase \u201cdon\u2019t mince your words\u201d comes from, which means \u201cdon\u2019t moderate your words.\u201d\r\nMints (Plural of Mint)\r\nAs a noun, \u201cmints\u201d is the plural of \u201cmint.\u201d In a festive context, this will usually refer to the herb used to flavor things (e.g., peppermint). You might have a mint candy cane at Christmas, for example.\r\n\r\n[caption id="attachment_12821" align="aligncenter" width="404"] Minty treats.[\/caption]\r\n\r\nBut a \u201cmint\u201d can also be somewhere that makes money, in particular coins:\r\nThe United States Mint produces all coins in the USA.\r\nThis second sense of \u201cmint\u201d has a related verb use (i.e., to produce coins), which would become \u201cmints\u201d in the present tense third person. It can also be used as an adjective meaning \u201cas new\u201d (e.g., mint condition), but this form of the word is never spelled with an \u201cs\u201d at the end.\r\nSummary: Mince or Mints?\r\nThese words sound similar, but you\u2019ll only want one of them in a pie:\r\n\r\n \tIn most settings, mince as a noun refers to finely chopped meat. As a verb, it can mean either \u201ccut something finely\u201d or \u201cwalk daintily.\u201d\r\n \tAt Christmas in the UK, mince refers to mincemeat. This is a sweet, spicy mixture of dried fruits used to fill mince pies, but does not contain meat!\r\n \tMints is usually the plural form of \u201cmint\u201d (a herb or peppermint sweet).\r\n\r\nWe hope this has helped you understand \u201cmince\u201d and \u201cmints\u201d! But if you\u2019re going to correct a family member today, please do so with festive cheer in your heart. Or maybe leave it for tomorrow!