The /z/ sound is spelled with <z>, <s> or <se>. The /n/ sound is spelled with <n>, <nn>, or <gn> in sign. Many of the pairs arise from contrasting a word ending in -n with a plural or 3rd-person -s. Several contrast a 3rd-person -s with a past participle, such as blows/blown. In some cases there is a contrast between a /z/ and a syllabic /n/ such as forbids/forbidden, in which case the status of the pair is doubtful because of the different syllable count.
This is a contrast between a sibilant fricative and a nasal continuant, both in the alveolar region and both voiced. It is not a problem.
Interesting pairs include:
The mean density value is 1.7%. The list makes 331 semantic distinctions, a loading of 84%.
adores adorn alkalis alkaline allies align altars Alton amaze amain annas Annan areas Aryan aroused around arrays arraign as Ann assize assign asters Aston augers organ ayahs ion baas barn baize bane bakers bacon bares bairn batters baton beakers beacon beaux bone bees bean bees been beholders beholden bestrews bestrewn bitters bittern biz bin blows blown boars born boars borne boars bourne bobbies bobbin boors bourn boos boon booze boon Borders Bordon bores born bores borne bores bourne bounders bounden bows bone braes brain braise brain braised brained braising braining brazier brainier briars Brian brokers broken brows brown browse brown browsed browned browsing browning browses brownies B's bean B's been burghers Bergen burrs Bern buys bine buzz bun buzzes bunnies cabbies cabin camellias chameleon cannas cannon capers capon careers Korean cares cairn carriers carrion cars Calne cause corn caused corned causing corning cinemas cinnamon ciphers siphon close clone closing cloning closed cloned coffees coffin colas colon commas common complaisant complainant coos coon cosies coneys cosy coney craze crane crazed craned crews croon crows crone cruise croon cruised crooned cruising crooning cruiser crooner cruisers crooners crystallize crystalline C's scene C's seen cuisine quinine curls Koln dampers dampen daws dawn days Dane days deign daze Dane daze deign dazed deigned dazing deigning defies define Des den devise divine devised divined devising divining dhows down dies dine divisor diviner divisors diviners does done doors dawn dowse down dowsing downing dowsed downed drawers drawn drays drain drowse drown drowsed drowned drowsing drowning D's Dean dues dune Easters eastern ease e'en enjoys enjoin errs earn errs urn E's e'en fez fen firs fern floes flown flows flown foes phone forbids forbidden foreknows foreknown foresees foreseen forgives forgiven fours faun fuzz fun fuzzy funny fuzzier funnier fuzziest funniest gammas gammon gays gain gaze gain gazed gained gazing gaining gives given glees glean gnus noon grays grain graze grain grazed grained grazing graining grows groan G's Gene guzzle gunwale guzzles gunwales haws horn hers Herne hews hewn hitches Hitchin hoes hone hose hone hosed honed hosing honing housed hound humours human inters intern is in jays Jane jazz Jan jersey journey jerseys journeys Jews June joys join J's Jane keys keen kills kiln knows known K's Caen laws lawn lays lain lays lane laze lain laze lane leas lean leers lien lees lean Les Len liars lion lies line Liz Lynn loos loon lose loon loser lunar loses loonies lows loan maize Maine maize main maws morn maws mourn Mays Maine Mays main measly meanly miser miner misers miners misgives misgiven moos moon Mounties mountain mows moan murmurs merman music Munich musician munition musicians munitions muzzy money northeasters northeastern northwesters northwestern noes known nose known O's own outdoes outdone outgrows outgrown overdoes overdone overdraws overdrawn overflows overflown overseas overseen oversews oversewn overthrows overthrown owes own oz on pause pawn paused pawned pausing pawning pays pain phase fain phase feign phased feigned phasing feigning physical finical pies pine plays plain pointers Poynton pose pone poses ponies posy pony posies ponies pros prone prose prone quiz quin raise rain raised rained raising raining raise rein raised reined raising reining raise reign raised reigned raising reigning rays rain rays rein rays reign redoes redone res Rennes res wren reservation renovation reservations renovations resound renowned rise Rhine rose roan rose Rhone roused round rowers rowan rues rune ruse rune satyrs Saturn saws sawn scissors sinners scores scorn screes screen seas scene seas seen sees scene sees seen seize scene seize seen sews sewn shakers shaken sharpers sharpen shies shine shores shorn shows shown sighs sign silvers silvan size sign sized signed sizing signing slackers slacken slays slain sleighs slain sous soon southeasters southeastern southwesters southwestern sows sown spays Spain spies spine spores spawn sprays sprain spurs spurn stays stain stirs stern stows stone strays strain strews strewn summers summon sways swain takers taken tars tarn tenders tendon tenners tenon Thais Tyne Thais tine throes throne ties Tyne ties tine tizzy tinny toes tone tors torn tows tone trays train trews Troon tutors Teuton underlies underline undersized undersigned undertows undertone undoes undone Utopias Utopian verges virgin victorias Victorian vies vine villas villain wars warn was wan ways Wayne wees wean weighs Wayne wheeze wean wheezed weaned wheezing weaning wheezy weeny wheezier weenier wheeziest weeniest whiz whin whiz win whizzing winning whizzed wind whizzes whinnies whores horn whys whine whys wine wise whine wise wine wising wining wised wined wiser whiner withdraws withdrawn wreckers reckon yaws yawn years yearn Y's whine Y's wine Z Ned zap knap zapped knapped zapping knapping zaps knaps zap nap zapped napped zapping napping zaps naps zee knee zees knees zest nest zip nip zipped nipped zipping nipping zips nips zipper nipper zippers nippers zone known zoo gnu zoos gnus
John Higgins, Shaftesbury, November 2010.