The /i/ vowel is typically spelled with <ee>, <ea>, <eCe> (gene), <iCe> (litre), or <ie> (piece, wield), and occurs in the letter names E and V. There are many other irregular spellings not found in this list such as <eo> (people). The /ɪ/ vowel is normally <i> in a monosyllable or before a doubled consonant, and is often <e> in an unstressed inflection (rushes, wanted) or <y>.
This set includes the two homograph pairs
axes, plural of axis and plural of axe,In addition there are the several homograph pairs decoy, defect, defile, rebound, etc, which also differ in stress, having front stress when nouns and end stress when verbs. I have also included several other pairs which may differ in stress, such as antique versus antic, or trustee and trusty, and pairs in which two occurrences of the one sound are in contrast with two of the other, such as PT versus pity. I am not quite sure of the status of gelatine v. gelatin, where the variant spellings seem to associate with different pronunciations. Since there is no change of meaning, is this a minimal pair? (A related case is saccharine versus saccharin, but in that case it seems to me that either spelling may receive either pronunciation.)
bases, plural of basis and plural of base.
Several singular/plural pairs in learned words or loan words occur, such as ellipsis/ellipses and dilettante/dilettanti.
Not many languages have two vowel phonemes so close together in this region of the mouth, so that the /i/ versus /ɪ/ distinction is a problem for many learners, especially for speakers of French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Greek, Farsi, Chinese, and many African languages.
This contrast is used memorably by Cole Porter in the words of his song Begin the Beguine. Other interesting pairs include:
cervices services (with the distinction in the last syllable)
There are several pairs which distinguish <re> pronounced /ri/ meaning “again” from <re> pronounced /rɪ / meaning “back”, namely re-join/rejoin, re-mark/remark, re-seed/recede and re-proof/reproof; there may be more such pairs not listed in this dictionary.
This is also a distinction which accounts for three of the potentially embarrassing taboo word confusions: peace and piss, penis and pinnace, and sheet and shit.
The mean density figure is 2.1%. The semantic loading is 53%.
antique antic antiques antics Aries eyries artiste artist artistes artists axes axes B's biz bailee bailey bailees baileys bargees barges bases bases bases basses beach bitch beached bitched beaches bitches beaching bitching bead bid beading bidding beads bids beaker bicker beakers bickers bean bin beans bins beat bit beaten bitten beats bits beater bitter beaters bitters beech bitch beef biff beefed biffed beefing biffing beefs biffs been bin bees biz beet bit beets bits beta bitter betas bitters bleats blitz bleep blip bleeps blips bootee booty breaches breeches bream brim Caesars scissors cc sissy ceased cyst ceases cissies cede Sid Celia sillier cervices services cheap chip cheat chit cheats chits cheek chick cheeks chicks cheep chip cheeped chipped cheeping chipping cheeps chips crease Chris clique click cliques clicks colleen Colin creak crick creaked cricked creaking cricking creaks cricks crease Chris creek crick creeks cricks deal dill dean din deans dins decoy decoy decoys decoys deed did deem dim deemed dimmed deeming dimming deems dims deep dip deeper dipper deeps dips defect defect defects defects defile defile defiles defiles defuse diffuse defused diffused dilettanti dilettante draftee draughty DTs ditties E's is e'en in e'en inn each itch ease is eat it eats its eats it's eel ill eels ills ellipses ellipsis feast fist feasts fists feat fit feats fits feel Phil feel fill feeling filling feelings fillings feels fills fees fizz feet fit field filled fleet flit fleeting flitting fleets flits forefeet forfeit foresees forces freely frilly frees frizz freezes frizzes freezing frizzing freesia frizzier freeze frizz frieze frizz gelatine gelatin Gene djinn gene djinn genes djinns Gene gin gene gin genes gins glebe glib greased grist greed grid green grin greens grins greet grit greeted gritted greeting gritting greets grits grippe grip grippes grips guarantee guaranty guarantees guaranties heal hill heals hills heap hip heaps hips heat hit heater hitter heats hits heating hitting heed hid heel hill heels hills jean djinn jeans djinns Jean djinn jean gin jeans gins Jean gin jeep gyp jeeps gyps keel kill keeled killed keeling killing keels kills keen kin keep kip keeper kipper keepers kippers keeping kipping keeps kips Keith kith keyed kid kneel nil lead lid leads lids leafed lift leak lick leaked licked leaking licking leaks licks lean Lynn leap lip leaped lipped leaps lips leas Liz leased list least list leave live leaves lives leaving living leavings livings Leeds lids leek lick leeks licks lees Liz lever liver levers livers lied lit litre litter litres litters leas Liz mead mid meal mill meals mills measles mizzles meat mitt meats mitts Meath myth meek Mick mealie Millie meet mitt meets mitts mete mitt metes mitts neap nip neaps nips neat knit neater knitter neat nit Neil nil Parsees passes peace piss peach pitch peached pitched peaches pitches peaching pitching peak pick peaked picked peaking picking peaks picks peaks pyx peal pill peals pills peat pit peek pick peeked picked peeking picking peeks picks peeks pyx peel pill peels pills peeler pillar peelers pillars peep pip peeping pipping peeped pipped peeps pips peke pick pekes picks pekes pyx penis pinnace penises pinnaces Pete pit pique pick piqued picked piquing picking piques picks piece piss pieced pissed pieces pisses piecing pissing peal pill piques pyx prima primmer PT pity queen quin queens quins reach rich reaches riches read rid reading ridding reads rids real rill ream rim reams rims reap rip reaped ripped reaping ripping reaps rips reason risen rebound rebound rebounds rebounds reed rid reeds rids reef riff reefed rift reefs riffs reek rick reeks ricks reeked ricked reeked ricked reeking ricking reek wrick reeked wricked reeking wricking reeks wricks reel Rhyl reel rill reels rills refund refund refunds refunds reject reject rejects rejects re-join rejoin re-joined rejoined re-joins rejoins re-mark remark re-marks remarks re-marked remarked re-marking remarking re-proof reproof re-proofs reproofs reseed recede reseeded receded reseeds recedes reseeding receding re-sole rissole re-soles rissoles Rheims rims Riga rigger Riga rigour scene sin scenes sins scenic cynic scenically cynically schema skimmer schemas skimmers scheme skim schemed skimmed schemer skimmer schemes skims scheming skimming seal sill seals sills sealer Scylla sealers Scyllas seat sit seater sitter seats sits seating sitting seed Sid seek sic seek sick seeking sicking seeks sicks seeks six seen sin seep sip seeped sipped seeping sipping seeps sips sheen shin sheep ship sheet shit sheeting shitting sheets shits Sikh sic Sikh sick Sikhs sicks Sikhs six skeet skit skeets skits ski'd skid sleek slick sleeker slicker sleekest slickest sleeks slicks sleep slip sleeper slipper sleepers slippers sleeping slipping sleeps slips sleepy slippy sleet slit sleeting slitting sleets slits sneak snick sneaked snicked sneakers snickers sneaking snicking sneaks snicks speak spick steal still stealing stilling steals stills steel still steeled stilled steels stills steely stilly steeple stipple steeples stipples stelae stilly streaked strict teak tic teak tick teal till team Tim teases tizzies teat tit teats tits teem Tim teen tin teens tins teenier tinnier teeniest tinniest teeny tinny teeter titter teetered tittered teetering tittering teeters titters treacle trickle trustee trusty tureen Turin 'tween twin tweet twit tweeted twitted tweeter twitter tweeters twitters tweeting twitting V's viz warrantee warranty warrantees warranties weak wick weaker wicker weal will weals wills weald willed wean whin wean win weans wins weaned wind weaner winner weaning winning week wick weeks wicks weeny whinny weep whip weeping whipping weeps whips wees whiz wheat whit wheat wit wheel will wheeled willed wheeling willing wheels wills wheeze whizz wheezed whizzed wheezes whizzes wheezing whizzing wield willed weeny Winnie wreak rick wreaked ricked wreaks ricks wreak wrick wreaked wricked wreaks wricksGeographical: Outside English-speaking countries, most visitors are from Hong Kong, Germany, Venezuela, Poland, China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Italy, India, Vietnam and France. Average 330 visitors per month. Not too much should be read into this distribution. As it is the first link in the grid, many people may look at it just to see what kind of information it contains.
John Higgins, Shaftesbury, January 2011