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difference between chafe and chaff

Two words with similar spelling and similar pronunciation, but when it comes to their meaning, they have a sea of difference.

Chaff is the leftover material obtained when wheat is threshed (beat the seeds out of a grain). The leftover material (that is other than the grain) is referred to as chaff. In common parlance, chaff is used to something is useless or worthless (the meaning is an extension of the physical use of the word).

Chafe, on the other hand, refers to what happens when the skin wears away due to constant rubbing. Generally skin is chafed when it is rubbed repeatedly. What do we feel when we undergo this rubbing? We are obviously irritated, and the word chafe is used to refer to this feeling of irritation.

Tool tip to remember the difference:

Just Remember: The extra f in ‘Chaff’ stands for ‘foil’, the covering of the seed this word refers to.

Examples of incorrect uses of chafe and chaff:

1. Separating wheat from chafe is a daunting task.
2. In India, majority of the activists chaff at the lack of political and basic human rights there.

Examples of correct uses of chafe and chaff:

1. When the young try to learn to carry the weight of their life, their shoulders are chafed for once.
2. The correct method of storing seeds is to first remove the chaff, so that they do not rot when stored in a silo.

A Quick Recap:

Chafe carries the following definitions:
1. Tear or wear off the skin or make sore by abrading/ Cause friction
2. Feel extreme irritation or anger
3. Cause annoyance in; disturb, especially by minor irritations
Chaff means:
1. Worthless matter; refuse.
2. Material consisting of seed coverings and small pieces of stem or leaves that have been separated from the seeds


Explore More Usage Tips:

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