Wether, Weather, Whether
Wether is a prime example of a word that will slip past the spell check. It is easily confused with two of its homonyms, whether and weather. Flying fingers find it easy to miss the single letter that separates them. Unless you’re a farmer, you might not even know that wether is either a:
male sheep or ram (the Oxford Dictionary of Etymology traces its roots to Old English, Old High German, Old Norse and Goth)
castrated ram or billy goat (according to A Word A Day).
We all know that MS Word can be easily confused, but there’s no need for us to face the same confusion.
Weather, that stuff up there in the sky, is the ‘condition of the atmosphere with respect to heat or cold, calm or storm, etc’. That’s according to the Oxford Dictionary of Etymology.
Interestingly, when it was first used in Old English in the 12th century, weather always had adverse implications. In the 14th century, the term also referred to the wind direction, and its roots lie in various terms meaning either wind or storm.
Weathering, derived from weather, is the result of exposure to wind and weather.
The frequently misspelled whether is used to introduce a question, often outlining a choice between options. Its roots lie in Old English and Old High German.
Here’s my attempt at using them all in a sentence. The farmer wondered whether the adverse weather had affected his wether.