If you saw wether, would you think it was a misspelling of weather or whether? Wether is a word, but what does it mean? What’s are the differences 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 in their herd and call it a bellwether. The word now describes someone who leads or something that sets a trend. In an election, counties or states are bellwethers when they seem to indicate which direction the country will go.
Now for the other two, more commonly used, confusing homophones—whether and weather.
The noun weather derives from a word meaning air and sky. The state of almost anything related to the air or the sky is weather—temperature, wind, 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 indicates a question of alternatives. Here is an example of whether in the phrase it most commonly appears in—“whether or not.”
Whether or weather or wether?
Whether is a conjunction indicating alternatives. Wether is a neutered goat or sheep. Weather is the state of the atmosphere. Will you ever mix them up again?