Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Sole and Soul

The words ‘sole’ and ‘soul’ are pronounced the same. Other than that, they do not appear to have much in common, despite the fact that ‘sole’ has had many different meanings over the years.

Of the meanings for the word ‘sole’, two are commonly used. First, as a noun, it means the bottom of the foot, or the bottom part of the shoe.

“I like these boots, but the sole has a hole in it.” 

“He stepped on a rock that was so sharp that his sole started bleeding.” 

There are a few related meanings, as a sole can be the bottom of a number of things, like a plow or a furrow. Similarly, it can be used as a verb: ‘to sole’ is to put a sole on a shoe.

A sole can also be one of a few different families of flatfish. The original, solea solea, was named because it looked like a sandal.

The other major meaning is a synonym for the word ‘only’.

“She was the sole survivor of the massacre that destroyed her hometown.”

Other meanings, which are not often found due to being uncommon slang, include a pool or pond, especially one that is dirty; a yoke that is specifically put around the neck of a cow or ox as opposed to ones used for other animals; and the act of pulling someone by the ear. These meanings all come from different etymologies which happen to have produced similar sounds.

‘Soul’, by contrast, is a much more specialized word, despite the fact that ‘sole’ has picked up many meanings. This is most likely because a soul is an important concept in religion, so it was most likely deemed better to attach meanings to the other spelling in order to ensure nobody mistook a soul for anything else. A soul is a person’s spirit, containing their thoughts, memories, essence, personality, and so on. It can be considered to be everything found in a person beyond the body. In many religions, the soul is thought to continue existing after death and it is what passes on to the afterlife.

In more general terms, it can be the spirit, essence, or vigor of anything else. This can be a life, energy, or a sense that it is fulfilling a purpose.

“The house was well-decorated and immaculate, but there was no sense that anyone cared for it or called it a home. It had no soul.”

It can also be used as metonymy for a person, especially when the person is one among many and something bad is happening to them.

“Ten brave souls volunteered to fight off the enemy while the rest of the people fled.” 

This is not as common as just saying ‘people’ and is getting to the point where it could be considered old-fashioned, but it does still pop up from time to time.

Finally, there is the odd meaning out, which is soul music. This is a genre of music mainly found in the United States. It was originally created as a blend of African American gospel music with blues and jazz. While it came from a religious background, the lyrics are secular. Instead, it conveys the soul itself through deep emotion. It is common to see ‘soul’ used as a noun to refer to this genre, especially when combined with an adjective, such as ‘deep soul’, ‘Detroit soul’, or ‘psychedelic soul’.

To summarize, ‘sole’ has a number of meanings, but it most often refers to the bottom of the foot or the bottom part of a shoe, and it can be a synonym for ‘only’. A soul is an intangible part of the human body which contains the essence of a person. It can also be used to mean a person, vital energy, or the soul genre of music.


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