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Peer vs Pier

This is another spelling mistake I have seen cropping up on websites and forums of late. Again, as we discussed last week, it is easy to incorrectly use words that sound the same but are spelt differently. Peer and pier, or indeed peers and piers, mean entirely different things.

According to Merriam Webster the word peer is defined as follows:

One that is of equal standing with another. One belonging to the same societal group especially based on age, grade, or status

A slight adaptation, peerage, is also used in British English as follows:

– A member of one of the five ranks (as duke, marquess, earl, viscount, or baron) of the British peerage.

– A person will often refer to his/her friends, work colleagues or club members as “peers”.

According to Merriam Webster the word pier is defined as followed:

– An intermediate support for the adjacent ends of two bridge spans

– A structure (as a breakwater) extending into navigable water for use as a landing place or promenade or to protect or form a harbor

A pier is most commonly used for referring to a structure that lay adjacent or vertically along a seaside resort.

So, the simple way to remember whether to use pier or peer in a sentence is to think double “e” for friend, colleague or nobleman, and think “ie” for the seaside or a bridge-like structure.