The spelling of /t/ is usually <t>, <te> or <tt>, but we also often see <ght> in sight. The /s/ sound is <s>, <ss>, <sce> or <ce>. I have excluded several pairs which the computer identified where the sounds are reversed, making them not strictly minimal, such as abates/abased or acts/axed.
The contrast is between a plosive and a fricative, both voiceless and close together in the mouth. The sounds are widespread in most of the world's languages, and the contrast is not a problem for learners, apart from Thais who have trouble when the sounds occur in syllable-final position.
The length of the list is mainly accounted for by 539 -s and -ed endings added to verbs ending in voiceless consonants. These are listed separately. The length is also partly accounted for by 200 occurrences of -ant versus -ance and similar pairs. These would be transcribed with final /nt/ or /ns/ clusters. Once again I have listed these separately. The interesting point is that the /ns/ cluster is effectively indistinguishable from the /nts/ cluster; the tongue cannot avoid passing through the /t/ position as it moves from /n/ to /s/. Therefore I might have included pairs with print/prints as well as print/prince, though I have not done so.
Taboo word pairs include art/arse, crapped/craps, fart/farce, pit/piss, wanked/wanks and fucked/fucks.
Interesting pairs include:
The mean density value is 4.7%, but this comes down to 2.1% if we exclude the pairs arising from inflectional changes only. Also excluding those cases, the list makes 371 semantic distinctions, a loading of 61%. Including the inflectional varieties raises this loading to 82%.
Ordinary minimal pairs (613)
abate abase abating abasing abatement abasement act axe acting axing advert adverse animate animus apt apse art arse at ass ate S ate ace attend ascend attended ascended attending ascending attends ascends attendance ascendance attendants ascendants attention ascension attentions ascensions attest assessed autumn awesome avert averse bait base baiting basing baronet baroness Bart baas bass bat benefice benefit bet Bess betide beside betides besides Betty Bessie bounties bounces bounty bouncy brittle bristle bruit Bruce brute Bruce BST BSc but bus butt bus butting busing canter cancer canters cancers Capt caps caught coarse caught course cent sense centre censer centres censers centre censor centred censored centring censoring centres censors chant chance chanting chancing chapped chaps checked Czechs checked cheques cincture tincture cinctures tinctures cinder tinder cinders tinders city cissy cities cissies cleft clefs coked coax content consent contented consented contenting consenting contents consents contort consort contorted consorted contorting consorting contorts consorts convert converse converting conversing converts conversed convoked convokes Copt cops copped copse cornet cornice cot cos court coarse courtly coarsely court course courting coursing curt curse cut cuss date dace debase debate debased debates debasing debating deceit decease dent dense dentist densest detect dissect detected dissected detecting dissecting detects dissects detection dissection detention dissension detentions dissensions dhotis doses divert diverse dot doss dotting dossing dotage dosage dote dose doting dosing doubt douse doubting dousing duties deuces effed F's eft F's egret egress eight ace eighties aces fart farce fate face fault false fertility facility fête face fêting facing fillet Phyllis fleet fleece fleeting fleecing fort force forties forces fought force franked Franks GATT gas get guess getting guessing ghat gorse graft graphs grate grace grating gracing grateful graceful gratefully gracefully great grace greet grease greeting greasing groat gross haughty horsy hit hiss hitting hissing hurt hearse intense incense intent intense intently intensely invert inverse Janet Janice jet Jess jetty Jessie jot joss jute juice Kate case kit kiss kitting kissing kitties kisses knight nice knightly nicely knout nous larked lakhs lat lass late lace latitude lassitude let less letter lesser lied lease light lice locked lochs loot loose looter looser looting loosing looted lucid lot loss lout louse Luton loosen mallet malice mat mass matting massing mate mace matt mass met mess might mice mint mince minting mincing mite mice moot moose mortal morsel mortals morsels motley Mossley mutt muss naught Norse net ness nettle nestle nettled nestled nettles nestles nettling nestling night nice nightly nicely nitre nicer numerate numerous Oct ox oddity odyssey oddities odysseys omit amiss palate palace palette palace part pass parting passing parties passes partly parsley pate pace pates paced pâté passé peat peace pennant penance pert purse pervert perverse petal pestle petaled pestled petals pestles Pete peace phut fuss pit piss pitting pissing pities pisses plaited placid plate place plating placing potty posse potties posses precipitate precipitous precipitately precipitously print prince protest processed PT PC purport purpose put puss putt pus ranted rancid rate race rating racing rectum Wrexham reflective reflexive regret regress regretting regressing relict relics remit remiss resort resource retold resoled revert reverse reverting reversing revertible reversible rift riffs right rice rite rice satiety society scent sense scenting sensing scrips script seat cease seating ceasing sect secs sect sex sent sense settle Cecil shucked Shucks sip tip sipping tipping sipped tipped sleight slice slight slice slighting slicing sort sauce sorting saucing sort source sorting sourcing sorter saucer sorters saucers spate space spite spice spiting spicing starlet starless stepped steppes suck tuck sucking tucking sucked tucked suite tweet suites tweets surfeit surface surfeiting surfacing surf turf surfing turfing swaddle twaddle swaddled twaddled swaddles twaddles swaddling twaddling swain twain swains twains Swede tweed Swedes tweeds sweet tweet sweets tweets sweeter tweeter swig twig swigged twigged swigging twigging swigs twigs swill twill swilled twilled swine twine swinge twinge swinges twinges swirl twirl swirled twirled swirling twirling swirls twirls switch twitch switched twitched switches twitches switching twitching syntax tintacks T C T's C's table sable tables sables tabor sabre tabors sabres tack sac tacks sacs tack sack tacked sacked tacking sacking tacks sacks Tadley sadly tag sag tagged sagged tagging sagging tags sags tail sail tailed sailed tailing sailing tails sails tail sale tails sales tailor sailor tailors sailors taint saint tainted sainted taints saints take sake takes sakes tale sail tales sails tale sale tales sales talkie Sauchie tallow sallow tally sally tallying sallying tallied sallied tallies sallies tamale Somali tamales Somalis tame same tameness sameness tammy Sammy tank sank tanned sand tap sap taps saps tapping sapping tapped sapped tarry sari tassel tattle tasseled tattled tassels tattles tat sat tatter satyr tatters satyrs taught sort taut sort tauter sorter tawse soars tawse tors tax sacs tax sacks tax sax taxes saxes team seam teamed seamed teaming seaming teams seams team seem teams seems tear sear tears sears tease seize teased seized teases seizes teasing seizing Tech sec Techs secs Techs sex Ted said tee see teeing seeing tees sees teen scene teens scenes teen seen teenier senior teethed seethed teething seething tell cell tells cells tell sell telling selling tells sells teller cellar tellers cellars temps tempt tend send tending sending tends sends tender sender tenders senders tenet senate tenets senates tenet tennis tens sends tense sense tensed sensed tenses senses tensing sensing tent tense text sexed Thai sigh Thais sighs Thame same throttle throstle throttles throstles tick sick ticked sicked ticking sicking ticks sicks tickle sickle tickles sickles tidal sidle tide side tides sides tideways sideways tiding siding tidings sidings tidied sided tie sigh ties sighs tying sighing tied sighed tight cite tights cites tight sight tights sights tight site tights sites till sill tills sills tilt silt tilted silted tilting silting tilts silts tine sign tined signed tines signs tinge singe tinged singed tinges singes tinging singeing tingle single tingled singled tingles singles tingling singling tinker sinker tinkers sinkers tip sip tipped sipped tips sips tipping sipping tire sire tired sired tires sires tiring siring to sou toad sowed toe so toe sew toes sews toeing sewing toe sow toes sows toeing sowing toil soil toiled soiled toiling soiling toils soils told sold told soled toll sole tolling soling tolls soles tolled soled tolled sold ton sun tonning sunning tone sown tong song tongs songs tonic sonic too sou toot suit tooted suited tooting suiting toots suits tooth sooth top sop tops sops topped sopped topping sopping tope soap topes soaps toped soaped toping soaping topi soapy toque soak toques soaks tor saw tors saws tor soar tors soars tor sore tors sores tore saw tore soar tore sore torn sawn tort sort torts sorts tot toss totting tossing touch such tough sough toughs soughs tougher suffer tow so tow sew tows sews twoing sewong tow sow tows sows towing sowing tower sour towered soured towering souring towers sours toy soy trait trace traitor tracer traitors tracers trite trice tub sub tubs subs tuck suck tucked sucked tucks sucks tucking sucking tucker succour tuckers succours tuft toughs tun sun tunny sonny tunnies sonnies tup sup tups sups turd surd turf serf turfs serfs turpentine serpentine turves serves tutu Sotho tutus Sothos tweet suite tweets suites 'twill swill two sou twos sous Tyne sign ungrateful ungraceful unit Eunice whacked wax went whence wert worse whittle whistle whittled whistled whittles whistles whittling whistling wrecked Rex yet yes yetis yeses zealot zealous
Pairs contrasting -ed and -s inflexions after voiceless consonants (539)
ached aches angle-parked angle-parks aped apes asked asks attacked attacks autographed autographs backed backs baked bakes balked balks banked banks barked barks barracked barracks basked basks bathed baths beefed beefs bellyached bellyaches bellylaughed bellylaughs berthed berths biffed biffs biked bikes bilked bilks bivouacked bivouacs blacked blacks bleeped bleeps blinked blinks blocked blocks bluffed bluffs booked books braked brakes bricked bricks briefed briefs brooked brooks bucked bucks buffed buffs bulked bulks bumped bumps bunked bunks burked burkes burlesqued burlesques burped burps caked cakes calked calks camped camps capped caps carped carps chafed chafes chaffed chaffs chalked chalks champed champs checked checks cheeked cheeks cheeped cheeps chinked chinks chipped chips chirped chirps chirruped chirrups chocked chocks choked chokes chopped chops chucked chucks clacked clacks clamped clamps clanked clanks clapped claps clasped clasps clerked clerks clicked clicks clinked clinks clipped clips cloaked cloaks clocked clocks clucked clucks clumped clumps clunked clunks cocked cocks coked cokes conked conks cooked cooks cooped coops coped copes copped cops coughed coughs counterattacked counterattacks cracked cracks cramped cramps cranked cranks crapped craps creaked creaks cricked cricks crimped crimps crisped crisps croaked croaks crocked crocks crooked crooks cropped crops crosschecked crosschecks cuffed cuffs cupped cups damped damps deadlocked deadlocks debarked debarks debriefed debriefs debunked debunks decamped decamps decked decks decoked decokes defrocked defrocks developed develops diked dikes dipped dips disembarked disembarks disliked dislikes docked docks doffed doffs doped dopes double-checked double-checks double-parked double-parks draped drapes dripped drips drooped droops dropped drops ducked ducks dumped dumps dunked dunks duped dupes dwarfed dwarfs earmarked earmarks earthed earths eavesdropped eavesdrops egotripped egotrips eked ekes eloped elopes embarked embarks encamped encamps engulfed engulfs entrapped entraps enveloped envelops enwrapped enwraps equipped equips escaped escapes evoked evokes faked fakes flaked flakes flanked flanks flapped flaps flecked flecks flicked flicks flipped flips flocked flocks flopped flops fluffed fluffs flunked flunks forked forks freaked freaks frisked frisks frolicked frolics frothed froths fucked fucks funked funks galloped gallops galumphed galumphs gaped gapes gasped gasps gawped gawps gazumped gazumps golfed golfs goofed goofs gossiped gossips graphed graphs grasped grasps groped gropes grouped groups gulped gulps gypped gyps hacked hacks half-tracked half-tracks handcuffed handcuffs handicapped handicaps happed haps hardbacked hardbacks harked harks harped harps hawked hawks heaped heaps hedgehopped hedgehops heliographed heliographs helped helps hiccoughed hiccoughs highjacked highjacks hiked hikes hitchhiked hitchhikes hocked hocks honked honks hoodwinked hoodwinks hooked hooks hooped hoops hoped hopes hopped hops horsewhipped horsewhips huffed huffs humpbacked humpbacks humped humps hunchbacked hunchbacks husked husks inked inks interlinked interlinks interlocked interlocks invoked invokes irked irks jacked jacks jack-knifed jack-knifes jampacked jampacks jaywalked jaywalks jerked jerks joked jokes jumped jumps kicked kicks kidnapped kidnaps kinked kinks kipped kips knapped knaps knifed knifes knocked knocks lacked lacks landscaped landscapes lapped laps larked larks laughed laughs leafed leafs leaked leaks leaped leaps licked licks liked likes limped limps linked links lipped lips lisped lisps lithographed lithographs loafed loafs locked locks looked looks looped loops loped lopes lopped lops luffed luffs lumped lumps lurked lurks mafficked mafficks mapped maps marked marks masked masks milked milks mimeographed mimeographs mimicked mimics mocked mocks moped mopes mopped mops mothproofed mothproofs mucked mucks muffed muffs name-dropped name-drops narked narks necked necks nicked nicks nipped nips outflanked outflanks outranked outranks outstripped outstrips overcooked overcooks overcropped overcrops overlapped overlaps overleaped overleaps overlooked overlooks overstepped oversteps overstocked overstocks overtopped overtops overtrumped overtrumps overworked overworks packed packs padlocked padlocks panicked panics paperbacked paperbacks paragraphed paragraphs parked parks peaked peaks pecked pecks peeped peeps pepped peps perked perks photographed photographs picked picks picnicked picnics pimped pimps pinked pinks piped pipes pipped pips piqued piques pitchforked pitchforks planked planks plonked plonks plopped plops plucked plucks plumped plumps pocked pocks poked pokes politicked politicks popped pops postmarked postmarks pricked pricks primped primps prinked prinks proofed proofs propped props provoked provokes puffed puffs puked pukes pulped pulps pumped pumps quacked quacks quaffed quaffs quaked quakes quipped quips racked racks raked rakes ramped ramps ranked ranks ransacked ransacks raped rapes rapped raps rasped rasps razorbacked razorbacks reaped reaps rebuffed rebuffs rebuked rebukes recapped recaps recapped recaps recouped recoups redeveloped redevelops reefed reefs reeked reeks regrouped regroups remarked remarks reproofed reproofs reshaped reshapes restocked restocks revamped revamps revoked revokes ricked ricks ripped rips risked risks rocked rocks romped romps roofed roofs rooked rooks roped ropes roughed roughs rubbernecked rubbernecks rubber-stamped rubber-stamps rucked rucks sacked sacks sapped saps scalloped scallops scalped scalps scamped scamps scoffed scoffs scooped scoops scraped scrapes scrapped scraps scrimped scrimps scrimshanked scrimshanks scuffed scuffs seeped seeps shacked shacks shaped shapes shellacked shellacs shipped ships shipwrecked shipwrecks shirked shirks shocked shocks shopped shops shrieked shrieks shrimped shrimps sicked sicks side-slipped side-slips sidestepped sidesteps sidetracked sidetracks sipped sips skimped skimps skipped skips skulked skulks skylarked skylarks slacked slacks slaked slakes slapped slaps sleeked sleeks slipped slips sloped slopes slopped slops sloughed sloughs slumped slumps smacked smacks smirked smirks smoked smokes snaked snakes snapped snaps sneaked sneaks snicked snicks sniffed sniffs sniped snipes snipped snips snooped snoops snuffed snuffs soaked soaks soaped soaps socked socks soft-soaped soft-soaps sopped sops soughed soughs soundproofed soundproofs souped soups spanked spanks sparked sparks spatchcocked spatchcocks specked specks spiked spikes spindle-shanked spindle-shanks spoofed spoofs squawked squawks squeaked squeaks stacked stacks staffed staffs staked stakes stalked stalks stamped stamps steeped steeps stepped steps stereotyped stereotypes stocked stocks stoked stokes stomached stomachs stomped stomps stooped stoops stopped stops strafed strafes strapped straps streaked streaks striped stripes stripped strips stroked strokes stropped strops stuffed stuffs stumped stumps sucked sucks sulked sulks supped sups swamped swamps swanked swanks swapped swaps swiped swipes swooped swoops tacked tacks talked talks tamped tamps tanked tanks taped tapes tapped taps tarmacked tarmacs tasked tasks telegraphed telegraphs telescoped telescopes thanked thanks thumped thumps thwacked thwacks ticked ticks tipped tips tomahawked tomahawks toped topes topped tops touch-typed touch-types tracked tracks trafficked traffics tramped tramps transshipped transships trapped traps trekked treks tricked tricks tripped trips triumphed triumphs trooped troops trumped trumps tucked tucks turfed turfs tweaked tweaks typed types unblocked unblocks uncorked uncorks understocked understocks undocked undocks unearthed unearths unfrocked unfrocks unhooked unhooks unlocked unlocks unmasked unmasks unpacked unpacks unpicked unpicks unwrapped unwraps unzipped unzips upped ups usurped usurps vamped vamps videotaped videotapes vouchsafed vouchsafes waked wakes walked walks walloped wallops wanked wanks warped warps waterproofed waterproofs whacked whacks whelped whelps whipped whips whisked whisks whopped whops winked winks wiped wipes wisecracked wisecracks wolfed wolfs worked works worshipped worships wreaked wreaks wrecked wrecks wricked wricks yanked yanks yapped yaps yelped yelps yoked yokes zapped zaps zipped zips
Pairs contrasting -ant and -ent adjectives with matching -ance and -ence nouns (200).
abhorrent abhorrence absent absence abundant abundance accident accidence acquiescent acquiescence adherent adherence adolescent adolescence affluent affluence ambient ambience ambivalent ambivalence arrogant arrogance assistant assistance attendant attendance brilliant brilliance beneficent beneficence benevolent benevolence clairvoyant clairvoyance cognizant cognizance coincident coincidence competent competence complacent complacence complaisant complaisance compliant compliance concordant concordance concurrent concurrence confident confidence confluent confluence consequent consequence consistent consistence consonant consonance constant Constance continent continence convalescent convalescence convenient convenience convergent convergence corpulent corpulence correspondent correspondence decadent decadence defiant defiance dependant dependence different difference diffident diffidence diligent diligence discordant discordance disobedient disobedience dissident dissidence dissonant dissonance distant distance divergent divergence dominant dominance ebullient ebullience effervescent effervescence efflorescent efflorescence effulgent effulgence elegant elegance eloquent eloquence emergent emergence eminent eminence entrant entrance equivalent equivalence evanescent evanescence evident evidence excellent excellence existent existence exorbitant exorbitance expedient expedience extravagant extravagance exuberant exuberance flamboyant flamboyance fluorescent fluorescence fragrant fragrance grandiloquent grandiloquence hesitant hesitance ignorant ignorance immanent immanence imminent imminence impatient impatience impenitent impenitence impermanent impermanence impertinent impertinence important importance impotent impotence improvident improvidence imprudent imprudence impudent impudence inadvertent inadvertence incandescent incandescence incident incidence incoherent incoherence incompetent incompetence incontinent incontinence inconvenient inconvenience independent independence indifferent indifference indigent indigence indolent indolence indulgent indulgence inelegant inelegance innocent innocence insignificant insignificance insistent insistence insolent insolence insouciant insouciance instant instance instants instanced intelligent intelligence interdependent interdependence intolerant intolerance intransigent intransigence iridescent iridescence irrelevant irrelevance irreverent irreverence lenient lenience luxuriant luxuriance magnificent magnificence magniloquent magniloquence malevolent malevolence munificent munificence negligent negligence nescient nescience nonchalant nonchalance obedient obedience observant observance obsolescent obsolescence omnipotent omnipotence omniscient omniscience opulent opulence overconfident overconfidence patient patience penitent penitence permanent permanence persistent persistence pertinent pertinence pestilent pestilence petulant petulance phosphorescent phosphorescence pleasant pleasance precedent precedence predominant predominance pre-existent pre-existence preponderant preponderance prescient prescience present presence prevalent prevalence prominent prominence protuberant protuberance provident providence prudent prudence prurient prurience pursuant pursuance purulent purulence putrescent putrescence quiescent quiescence radiant radiance recalcitrant recalcitrance recurrent recurrence redolent redolence redundant redundance refulgent refulgence relevant relevance reliant reliance reluctant reluctance reminiscent reminiscence remittent remittance renascent renascence repentant repentance repugnant repugnance resident residence resilient resilience resistant resistance resonant resonance resplendent resplendence resurgent resurgence reticent reticence reverent reverence salient salience sapient sapience self-confident self-confidence self-important self-importance senescent senescence sequent sequence significant significance silent silence somnolent somnolence subservient subservience succulent succulence superabundant superabundance tolerant tolerance transcendent transcendence transient transience translucent translucence transparent transparence truculent truculence tumescent tumescence turbulent turbulence variant variance vehement vehemence vigilant vigilance violent violence virulent virulence
John Higgins, Shaftesbury, February 2010.