If you saw wether, would you think it is a misspelling of weather or whether? Wether is a word, but what does it mean? What’s the difference between these three words?
A wether is a ram or goat that is castrated at a young age. Unless you work with livestock, you are not likely to use the term very often. However, one word that you may know derives from wether. Shepherds and goatherds attach a bell to the lead animal and call it a bellwether. The word now describes anyone who leads. In an election, counties or states are bellwethers when they seem to indicate which direction the country will go. Notice this explanation of bellwether in the quote below and a usage example of wether:
Whether or Weather?
Now for the other two confusing homophones—whether and weather. The noun weather derived from a word meaning air and sky. The state of almost anything related to the air and sky is weather—temperature, windiness, moisture, etc. As a verb, weather means to endure or to be exposed to and affected by weather. Let’s look at some examples before moving on to whether.
Whether is a conjunction. Its meaning is similar to if. It often introduces the first alternative of a group. Here is an example of whether in its most common phrase—whether or not.
Whether is a conjunction meaning if. Wether is a neutered goat or sheep. Weather is the state of the atmosphere. Will you ever mix them up again?