Consonants /b/ versus /m/, 476 pairs     [badmad.html]

Bake up your mind time

The spelling of /b/ is always <b> or <bb> and /m/ is <m>, <mm> and <mb> in bomb and dumbly. Notice how the homograph bass enters pairs with mass and mace, and the pair bow/mow with its inflections involves a pair of homographs.

The contrast is between a plosive and a nasal continuant, both voiced and occupying the same place of articulation. There are plenty of opportunities for confusion even among native speakers. One of the most dangerous is the mishearing of million for billion or vice versa.

Taboo word pairs are bastard/mastered, bugger/mugger, bum/mum and boobs/booms.

Interesting pairs include:

abuse amuse
banish mannish
barley Mali
bastard mastered
bitten mitten
boron moron
bowler molar
button mutton
grabber grammar
labour lamer
obeys amaze
sahib psalm
tuba tumour

The mean density value is 3.9%. The list makes 248 semantic distinctions, a loading of 52%.

Abe aim
abuse amuse
  abused amused
  abuses amuses
  abusing amusing
abyss amiss
arboreal armorial
arbour armour
  arbours amahs 
B me
baa ma	
baa mar
  baa'd marred
  baas mars
babel Mabel 
back mac
  backs macs
bad mad
  badly madly
  badness madness	   
bade mad  
badge Madge 
bag mag
  bags mags
baggy Maggie 
bail mail
  bailed mailed
  bailing mailing
  bails mails	
bail male
  bails males  
bait mate
  baited mated
  baiting mating
  baits mates
baize maize
bake make
  bakes makes
  baking making
baker maker
  bakers makers
bald mauled
bale mail
  baled mailed
  baling mailing
  bals mails
bale male
  bales males
ball maul
  balling mauling
  balls mauls
  balled mauled
balm barb		
balm ma'am
ban man
  banning manning
  banned manned
  bans mans
bandy Mandy 
band manned
bane main
bangle mangle
  bangles mangles
banish mannish
banks Manx 
banner manner
  banners manners
bar ma
bar mar
  bars mars
  barred marred
  barring marring
barbel marble
  barbels marbles
bare mare
  bares mares
bark mark
  barked marked
  barking marking
  barks marks
barker marker
  barkers markers
barley Mali 
barrow marrow
  barrows marrows
Barry marry
barter martyr
  bartered martyred
  bartering martyring
  barters martyrs
base mace
bash mash
  bashes mashes
  bashing mashing
  bashed mashed
basin mason
  basins masons
bask mask
  basked masked
  basking masking
  basks masks
bass mass
bass mace
  basses maces
bastard mastered
bat mat
  bats mats
  batted matted
  batting matting
batch match
  batches matches
bate mate
  bated mated
  bating mating
  bates mates
batter matter
  battered mattered
  battering mattering
  batters matters
bawd Maud 
bawdy Maudie 
bawl maul
  bawls mauls
  bawled mauled
  bawling mauling
bay may 
bayed made
be me
beak meek
bear mare
  bears mares
beat meat
beat meet
  beating meeting
  beatings meetings
  beats meets
beau mo 
beau mow
  beaux mows
bed Med 
bee me
beer mere
  beers meres
beg Meg 
Beith Meath
bellow mellow
  bellowed mellowed
  bellowing mellowing
  bellows mellows
belt melt
  belted melted
  belting melting
  belts melts
ben men
bend mend
  bended mended
  bending mending
  bends mends
Benny many
bent meant
berry merry
berth mirth
beseems meseems
Bessie messy
bet met 
bethinks methinks
  bethought methought
bets Metz 
bey may
Bicester Mr
bidden midden
bier mere
  biers meres
bight might
bight mite
  bights mites
bike mike 
  bikes mikes
bile mile
bilk milk
  bilked milked
  bilking milking
  bilks milks
billboard millboard
bill mill
  billed milled
  billing milling
  bills mills
billet millet
billionth millionth
  billionths millionths	   
  billionaire millionaire
Billy Millie
bind mind
  binding minding
  binds minds
binder minder
  binders minders
bine mine
  bines mines
birth mirth
bite might
bite mite
  bites mites
bitten mitten
biz Ms 
boar maw
  boars maws
boar more
board Maud
boast most
boat moat
  boated moated
  boats moats
boater motor
  boaters motors
bob bomb
  bobbed bombed
  bobbing bombing
  bobs bombs
bode mode
  bodes modes
Boer mower
  Boers mowers
boil moil
  boiled moiled
  boiling moiling
  boils moils
bold mould 
bolder moulder
bole mole
  boles moles
bolt moult
  bolted moulted
  bolting moulting
  bolts moults
Bolton molten
bone moan
  boned moaned
  bones moans
  boning moaning
boo moo
  booed mooed
  booing mooing
  boos moos
boob boom
  boobed boomed
  boobing booming
  boobs booms
boon moon
  boons moons
boor moor 
  boors moors 
boorish Moorish 
boot moot
  booted mooted
  booting mooting
  boots moots
booze moos
bore maw
  bores maws
bore more
bored Maud
Boris Maurice	 
born morn
born mourn
borne morn
borne mourn
boron moron
borrow morrow
  borrows morrows
boss moss
  bosses mosses
bossy mossy
  bossier mossier
  bossiest mossiest
bottle mottle
  bottled mottled
  bottles mottles
  bottling mottling
boulder moulder
  boulders moulders
bough mow
  boughs mows
bound mound
  bounds mounds
bounty Mountie 
  bounties Mounties 
bourbon merman
Bourne morn
Bourne mourn
bow mo
bow mow
  bows mows
  bowing mowing
Bowburn bowman
bowl mole
  bowls moles
bowled mould
bowler molar
  bowlers molars
box mocks
buck muck
  bucked mucked
  bucking mucking
  bucks mucks
Buckie mucky
buckle muckle
bud mud
  budded mudded
  budding mudding
  buds muds
buddy muddy
  buddies muddies
buff muff
  buffed muffed
  buffs muffs
bug mug
  bugged mugged
  bugging mugging
  bugs mugs
bugger mugger
  buggers muggers
buggy muggy
built milt
bulked mulct
  bums mums
bumps mumps
bunch munch
  bunched munched
  bunches munches
  bunching munching
bunk monk
  bunks monks
bunny money
  bunnies monies
bur myrrh
burr myrrh
burke murk
bursar mercer
  bursars mercers
burton Merton 
bury merry
bus muss
  bused mussed
  buses musses
  busing mussing
bust must
  busts musts
bustard mustard
buster muster
  busters musters
bustle muscle
  bustled muscled
  bustles muscles
  bustling muscling
but mutt
butt mutt
  butts mutts
butter mutter
  buttered muttered
  buttering muttering
  butters mutters
button mutton
buy my
buyer mire
  buyers mires
by my
bye my  
cab cam
  cabs cams
carbine carmine
  carbines carmines
chubby chummy
  chubbier chummier
  chubbiest chummiest
cobber comma
  cobbers commas
come cub
  comes cubs
crab cram
  crabbed crammed
  crabbing cramming
  crabs crams
dab dam
  dabs dams
dab damn
  dabbed dammed
  dabbing damming
  dabs damns
dauber dormer
  daubers dormers
debarkation demarcation
dibber dimmer
doubly dumbly
drab drachm		   
drab dram
drub drum
  drubbed drummed
  drubbing drumming
  drubs drums
dub dumb
  dubs dumbs
  dubbing dumbing
  dubbed dumbed
ebb M 
  ebbs M's 
Feb fem
glebe gleam 
  glebes gleams
glibber glimmer
grab gram
  grabs grams
grabber grammar
  grabbers grammars
hobo homo
  hoboes homos
hub hum
  hubs hums
jab jam
  jabbed jammed
  jabbing jamming
  jabs jams
jab jamb
  jabs jambs
jib gym
  jibs gyms
jib Jim
lab lam
lab lamb
  labs lambs
labour lamer
Lib limb
Lib Lymm
lobe loam 
nub numb
  nubs numbs
obeys amaze 
rib rim
  ribbed rimmed
  ribbing rimming
  ribs rims
robe roam
  robes roams
  robed roamed
  robing roaming
robe Rome
rob rhomb
  robs rhombs 
rub rum
rubber rummer
ruby roomy 
sahib psalm 
  sahibs psalms 
scrub scrum
  scrubs scrums
shabby shammy
slab slam
  slabs slams
stabber stammer 
  stabbers stammers
sub some
sub sum
  subs sums
  subbed summed
  subbing summing
subway someway 
tabby tammy
  tabbies tammies
tabor tamer
  tabors tamers
tuba tumour
  tubas tumours
tubby tummy
tuber tumour
  tubers tumours

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, April 2016,
updated Chiang Mai, May 2024