Consonants /f/ versus /n/, 290 pairs     [feeknee.html]

The /f/ sound is spelled with <f>, <ff>, <gh> in cough or <ph> in phone. The /n/ sound is spelled <n>, <nn> or <kn> in known.

The contrast is between a voiceless labio-dental fricative and a voiced alveolar nasal continuant. It is not usually a problem.

Taboo word pairs include cuffed/cunt, fanny/nanny, and the very offensive figure/nigger.

Notice how the words fife and nine each pair off with fine and knife. Other interesting pairs include:

feather nether
foreman Norman
offer honour
ruffle runnel

The mean density value is 1.6%. The list makes 173 semantic distinctions, a loading of 60%.

afield annealed
aft aren't
beef bean 	   
  beefs beans
biff bin
  biffs bins
bluffed blunt
buff bun
  buffs buns
caff can
  caffs cans
calf Calne 
chafe chain
  chafing chaining
  chafes chains
  chafed cahined
chaffed chant
chaffs chance
coffee Connie 
coif coign
cough con 
  coughing conning 
  coughs cons
  coughed conned
coughed cont 
cuffed cunt 
cuffing cunning
deaf den
deft dent
defy deny
  defied denied
  defies denies
  defying denying
differ dinner
  differs dinners
doff don 
  doffing donning
  doffs dons
  doffed donned
fab nab
fade neighed
fag nag
  fagged nagged
  fagging nagging
  fags nags
fail nail
  failed nailed
  failing nailing
  fails nails
fair ne'er
fame name
famed named
fancy Nancy
fanny nanny 
  fannies nannies
fare ne'er
farrow narrow
  farrowed narrowed
  farrowing narrowing
  farrows narrows
fat gnat
  fats gnats
fat Nat 
fatal natal
fatter natter
fatty natty
  fattier nattier
  fattiest nattiest
faugh gnaw
faugh nor
fear near
  feared neared
  fearing nearing
  fears nears
feather nether
fed Ned
fee knee
  fees knees
feed knead
  feeding kneading
  feeds kneads
fell nell 
felt knelt
fester Nestor 
fetid netted
fettle nettle
feud nude
  feuds nudes
few knew
few new
  fewer newer
  fewest newest
  fewness newness
fey née
fib nib
  fibs nibs
fickle nickel
fie nigh
fife fine
fife knife
  fifes knifes
fifty nifty
fight knight
  fights knights
  fighting knighting
fight night
  fights nights
fighter nitre
figure nigger
  figures niggers
figured niggard
fill nil
fine nine
  fines nines
fire nigher
first nursed
fit knit
  fits knits
  fitted knitted
  fitting knitting
fitter knitter
  fitters knitters
fives knives
fix nicks
foal knoll
  foals knolls
foam gnome
  foams gnomes
fob knob
  fobs knobs
foe know
  foes knows	
foe no
for gnaw
for nor	   
force Norse 
ford gnawed
fore gnaw
fore nor
foreman Norman 
form norm
  forms norms
formal normal
  formally normally
formality normality
formalize normalize
  formalized normalized
  formalizes normalizes
  formalizing normalizing
formative normative
forty naughty
four gnaw
  fours gnaws
four nor
fox knocks
fudge nudge
  fudges nudges
  fudged nudged
  fudges nudges
fuel newel
  fuels newels
fun none
fun nun
fury Newry 
fuse news
Geoff gen
goof goon
  goofs goons
graft grant
  grafted granted
  grafting granting
  grafts grants
grief green 
huff Hun 
huffed hunt
huffy honey 
if in			
kaffir canna
  kaffirs cannas 
knife nine
laugh Larne 
laughing larning 
laughs lance 
leaf lean
  leafing leaning
left lent
life line
lifer liner
  lifers liners
lift lint
lifts Linz 
loaf loan
  loafing loaning
  loafs loans
  loafed loaned
mid-off mid-on
NAAFI nanny
niffy ninny
oaf own
  oafs owns
off on
offer honour 
  offered honoured 
  offering honouring 
  offers honours 
off-licence on-licence
  off-licences on-licences
offset onset
  offsets onsets
phase neighs 
phone known 
phut nut 
proof prune
  proofing pruning
  proofs prunes
  proofed pruned
puff pun
  puffing punning
  puffed punned
  puffs puns
puffed punt
quiff quin
  quiffs quince
ref Rennes 
ref wren
  refs wrens
reft rent
refuse renews
rife Rhine 
riffs rinse
roof rune
  roofs runes
rough run
  roughing running
  roughs runs
roughed runt
rougher runner
ruffle runnel
  ruffles runnels
safe sane
  safely sanely
  safer saner
  safest sanest
scoff scone
  scoff scones
scoffs sconce
shaft shan't
sheaf sheen
skiff skin
  skiffs skins
sphere sneer 
  spheres sneers 
sough son 		
  soughs sons
sough sun
  soughing sunning
  soughs suns
  soughed sunned
spoof spoon
  spoofing spooning
stuff stun
  stuffed stunned
  stuffing stunning
  stuffs stuns
stuffed stunt
tiff tin
tough ton
toughie tunny
  toughies tunnies
turf tern 	   
turf turn
  turfing turning
  turfed turned
  turfs turns
turn-off turn-on
waft want
  wafted wanted
  wafting wanting
  wafts wants
waif Wayne 
waif wane
  waifs wanes
wharf warn
weft went
whiff whin
whiff win
  whiffs wins
whiffs wince
wife whine 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, October 2010.