All the common spellings of /ɪ/ are present in the list, namely <i>, <e> in unstressed syllables, and <y> in gym and myths. The /æ/ vowel is <a> in all cases in this list.
These are both short vowels and so might be occasionally confused in rapid speech even though they are well separated in the mouth. The contrast is normally made on the stressed syllable, except in the pairs babysit/babysat, icepick/icepack, ghoulish/goulash and topis/topaz. The contrast is used to signal tense changes in the strong verbs bid/bade, ring/rang, sing/sang, sink/sank and sit/sat.
A few pairs differ in stress and are not truly minimal, such as belay/ballet, Ceylon/salon, excess/access, impair/ampere, etc., but they seem close enough to be a source of confusion or punning, so have been left in the list.
Several pairings with rude words exist, such as crypt/crapped, shit/shat, and wink/wank.
One notoriously confusable pair is perimeter/parameter, which in popular discourse have come close to blending into a synonymous pair, with parameter used as an abstract and formal word for edge or limit rather than its strict meaning of a value to be measured. Other interesting pairs include:
The mean density value is 2.6%. The list makes 326 semantic contrasts, a loading of 51%.
amiss amass babysit babysat begin began belay ballet belays ballets bibs Babs bicker backer bickers backers bid bad bid bade big bag Billy bally bin ban bins bans bins banns bit bat bits bats bitch batch bitches batches bitten batten bitten baton bitter batter bitters batters bittern baton bitterns batons blink blank blinks blanks blithering blathering bricked bract brig brag brigs brags Brit brat Brits brats Ceylon salon chid Chad chimp champ chimps champs chip chap chipped chapped chipping chapping chips chaps chit chat chits chats Chris crass click clack clicked clacked clicking clacking clicks clacks click claque clicks claques cling clang clinging clanging clings clangs clink clank clinked clanked clinking clanking clinks clanks clip clap clipped clapped clipping clapping clips claps clipper clapper clippers clappers countersink countersank crib crab cribbed crabbed cribbing crabbing cribs crabs crick crack cricked cracked cricking cracking cricks cracks crimp cramp crimped cramped crimping cramping crimps cramps crypt crapped dibble dabble dibbled dabbled dibbles dabbles dibbling dabbling dicker Dacca dicker Dakar did dad digger dagger diggers daggers dim dam dimmed dammed dimming damming dims dams dim damn dimmed damned dimming damning dims damns din Dan dingle dangle dingles dangles dipper dapper dish dash dished dashed dishes dashes dishing dashing djinn Jan drink drank ellipse elapse ellipses elapses exceed accede exceeded acceded exceeding acceding exceeds accedes excess access fertility fatality fib fab fissile facile fiction faction fictions factions fictitious factitious fig fag figs fags fin fan fins fans Finn fan Finns fans fissile facile fission fashion fissionable fashionable fit fat fits fats fitted fatted fitting fatting fitness fatness fitter fatter fittest fattest flick flak flicks flax flip flap flipped flapped flipping flapping flips flaps flipper flapper flippers flappers flit flat flits flats forbid forbade friction fraction frictions fractions frizzle frazzle frizzled frazzled frizzles frazzles ghoulish goulash gibber jabber gibbered jabbered gibbering jabbering gibbers jabbers gig gag gigs gags giggle gaggle giggles gaggles gill gal gills gals gillie galley gillies galleys gin Jan glimmer glamour grim gram grimmer grammar grinned grand gym jam gyms jams gym jamb gyms jambs hick hack hicks hacks hid had hill Hal hilly Halle him ham hip hap hips haps hippie happy his has hissed hast hit hat hits hats hitch hatch hitched hatched hitches hatches hitching hatching hymn ham hymned hammed hymns hams hymning hamming icepick icepack icepicks icepacks id ad id add ill Al imp amp imps amps impair ampere impairs amperes imputation amputation imputations amputations in an in Ann infield Anfield inhibit inhabit inhibited inhabited inhibiting inhabiting inhibits inhabits inn an inn Ann inner anna interior anterior is as it at jib jab jibbed jabbed jibbing jabbing jibs jabs jig jag jigged jagged jigging jagging jigs jags Jim jam Jim jamb jingle jangle jingled jangled jingles jangles jingling jangling kid cad kids cads kiddy caddie kiddies caddies killer Calor kin can kin Cannes kindle candle kindles candles kip cap kipped capped kipping capping kips caps kit cat kits cats kith Cath kitsch catch Kitty catty knickers knackers knit gnat knits gnats knitter natter knitters natters lib lab lick lack licked lacked licking lacking licks lacks licks lax lid lad lids lads limb lam limbed lammed limbs lams limb lamb limbed lambed limbs lambs limn lam limned lammed limning lamming limns lams limn lamb limned lambed limning lambing limns lambs limp lamp limps lamps linger languor link lank lip lap lipped lapped lipping lapping lips laps lips lapse liquor lacquer liquors lacquers lit lat literal lateral litter latter littoral lateral live lav lives lavs Mick mac mid mad midden madden middens maddens midge Madge millet mallet mince manse minces manses mingle mangle mingled mangled mingles mangles mingling mangling minks Manx minx Manx miss mass missed massed misses masses missing massing missive massive missy massy mist massed mitt mat mitts mats mitt matt mix macs mix max myths maths nib nab nibs nabs nick knack nicks knacks niffy NAAFI nigger nagger niggers naggers ninny nanny ninnies nannies nip knap nipped knapped nipping knapping nips knaps nip nap nipped napped nipping napping nips naps nippy nappy nit gnat nits gnats nit Nat nix knacks perimeter parameter perimeters parameters pick pack picked packed picking packing picks packs picked pact picker packer pickers packers picket packet pickets packets picks pax piddle paddle piddled paddled piddles paddles piddling paddling pill pal pills pals pillar pallor pin pan ping pang pings pangs pinned panned pins pans pip pap pistil pastel pistils pastels pistol pastel pistols pastels piston pastern pistons pasterns pit pat pits pats pitted patted pitting patting pitch patch pitched patched pitches patches pitching patching pitied patted pity patty pities patties pixies paxes prim pram prims prams prink prank prinks pranks pyx packs pyx pax quick quack repine rapine rich ratch riches ratches rick rack ricked racked ricking racking ricks racks rick wrack rickets rackets riddled raddled riffle raffle riffled raffled riffles raffles riffling raffling rig rag rigged ragged rigging ragging rigs rags rim ram rimmed rammed rimming ramming rims rams ring rang rink rank rinks ranks rip rap ripped rapped ripping rapping rips raps rip wrap ripped wrapped ripping wrapping rips wraps ripped rapt scribble scrabble scribbled scrabbled scribbles scrabbles scribbling scrabbling scrip scrap scrips scraps script scrapped shindy shandy shindies shandies shit shat shrink shrank sic sac sic sack sick sac sicks sacs sick sack sicked sacked sicks sacks sicks sax Sid sad silly sally sillies sallies silver salver silvers salvers Silvia salvia sing sang sink sank sinned sand sins sans sip sap sipped sapped sipping sapping sips saps sit sat sitter satyr sitters satyrs six sacks six sacs six sax sixes saxes skimp scamp skimped scamped skimping scamping skimps scamps skimpy scampi skin scan skinned scanned skinning scanning skins scans skint scant skit scat skitter scatter skittered scattered skittering scattering skitters scatters slick slack slicks slacks slicker slacker slickers slackers slickest slackest slim slam slimmed slammed slimming slamming slims slams sling slang slinging slanging slings slangs slip slap slipped slapped slipping slapping slips slaps slip-up slap-up slit slat slits slats sliver slaver slivered slavered slivering slavering slivers slavers snick snack snicks snacks sniffle snaffle sniffled snaffled sniffles snaffles sniffling snaffling snip snap snipped snapped snipping snapping snips snaps snitch snatch snitched snatched snitches snatches snitching snatching spin span spinning spanning spins spans spit spat spits spats spitting spatting spring sprang sprit sprat sprits sprats stick stack sticking stacking sticks stacks stink stank strip strap stripped strapped stripping strapping strips straps Styx stacks swig swag swim swam think thank thinking thanking thinks thanks tic tack tics tacks tick tack ticked tacked ticks tacks ticked tact tickle tackle tickled tackled tickles tackles tickling tackling ticks tax tics tax tiddley Tadley Timmy tammy tin tan tinned tanned tinning tanning tins tans ting tang tings tangs tingle tangle tingled tangled tingles tangles tingling tangling tinker tanker tinkers tankers tinkered tankard tip tap tipped tapped tipping tapping tips taps tipster tapster tipsters tapsters tit tat tits tats titter tatter tittered tattered titters tatters tittle tattle topis topaz trick track tricked tracked tricking tracking tricks tracks tricked tract trim tram trims trams trip trap tripped trapped tripping trapping trips traps tripper trapper trippers trappers uninhibited uninhabited unpick unpack unpicked unpacked unpicks unpacks Vic vac villa valour Whig wag Whigs wags wick whack wicks whacks wicker whacker wicks wax wig wag wigged wagged wigging wagging wigs wags wiggle waggle wiggled waggled wiggles waggles wiggling waggling wing whang winged whanged winging whanging wings whangs wink wank winked wanked winking wanking winks wanks wrick rack wricked racked wricking racking wricks racks wrick wrack wring rang wrinkle rankle wrinkled rankled wrinkles rankles wrinkling rankling wrinkly rankly writ rat writs rats Writtle rattle zip zap zipped zapped zipping zapping zips zaps
John Higgins, Shaftesbury, January 2011.