The /m/ sound is spelled with <m> or <mm>. The /w/ sound is spelled with <w> or <wh> and is heard in the letter name Y. Notice how the homograph wound makes pairs with mooned and mound.
This is a contrast between a nasal continuant and a semivowel, both voiced and in the bilabial region of the mouth. The contrast only occurs initially or medially. It is a slight problem for Spanish speakers.
Interesting pairs include:
The mean density value is 2.2%. The lists make 107 semantic distinctions, a loading of 53%.
mac whack macs whacks made wade mag wag mags wags maid wade maids wades mail wail mailed wailed mailing wailing mails wails mail whale mails whales mails Wales mails whales Maine Wayne Maine wain main wain mains wains main Wayne major wager majored wagered majoring wagering majors wagers make wake makes wakes making waking male wail males wails male whale males whales males Wales mall wall malls walls mangle wangle mangled wangled mangles wangles mangling wangling Manx wanks mare ware mares wares mare wear mares wears Mary wary mate wait mated waited mates waits mating waiting mate weight mated weighted mates weights mating weighting matey weighty Maud ward maul wall mauled walled mauling walling mauls walls mauve wove maw war maws wars Max whacks Max wax May way Mays ways mayor ware mayors wares me we mean wean meaning weaning means weans meanie weeny meant went Med wed meek weak meeker weaker meekest weakest meekly weakly meekness weakness meek week melt welt melts welts men wen mend wend mended wended mending wending mends wends mere Wear mere weir meres weirs merry wherry messed west met wet Mick Wick might Wight might white mild whiled mild wild milder wilder mildest wildest mildly wildly mile while miles whiles mile wile miles wiles Millie Willie milt wilt mince wince minced winced minces winces mincing wincing mind whined mind wined mind wind minding winding minds winds mine whine mines whines mining whining mined whined mine wine mined wined mines wines mining wining mined wind miner whiner miners whiners mink wink minks winks minnow winnow minnows winnows mire wire mired wired mires wires miring wiring miry wiry mirier wirier miriest wiriest mirthless worthless misc whisk miser wiser missal whistle missals whistles missed whist mist whist mite Wight mite white mites whites mitre whiter Mo whoa Mo woe Mod wad Mods wads mode woad model waddle modelled waddled models waddles modelling waddling moke woke Mold wold Molly Wally moo woo mooing wooing moos woos mooed wooed mood wooed mooned wound mop whop mopped whopped mopping whopping mops whops more war Morley Warley morn warn morns warns morning warning mornings warnings mortar water mortared watered mortaring watering mortars waters mottle wattle mottles wattles mould wold moulds wolds mound wound mourn warn mourned warned mourns warns mourning warning mow wow mows wows mow woe mows woes mowed woad murk work my Y myrrh were smarmy swami smell swell smelled swelled smelling swelling smells swells
John Higgins, Shaftesbury, December 2010.