The Red Pen: “Peal” vs. “Peel”

We Need to Talk About Grammar is a weekly feature in which I complain about grammatical mistakes I encounter all too often. Feel free to commiserate below, and check out the archives here!


As with a lot of these, I think the peal/peel confusion comes from people just simply not realizing they’re two separate words. Well, they are: 

Peel (n.) – The outer skin of a fruit or vegetable.
Peel (v.) – To remove the outer skin of a fruit or vegetable.

Peal (n.) – Ringing sound, as of a bell.
Peal (v.) – To ring, as in a bell.

So when Max Detweiler, in The Sound of Music, asks the Baroness if he hears wedding bells and she replies “Pealing madly,” she means “ringing madly,” not “strenuously removing the outer skin of a fruit.” Because that would just be silly.

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