Stake - steak

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Stake and steak are two homophones. Don't confuse them.

  • The most important general meaning of the noun stake is 'a post', a stout piece of wood driven into the ground. Stakes were used to mark boundaries, and in the US to mark the possession of land, or of resources such as goldmines or timber. So one use of the verb 'to stake' is in the phrase 'to stake a claim'. A fence is held up by stakes, although a gate in the fence is held up by a gatepost, which is similar - though stronger, and usually a finer piece of wood. In older times, a stake was the post to which criminals or witches or heretics were tied to be burnt alive. There is an English idiom ' to go to the stake for someone', which means to swear by one's own life.
    • A second meaning of stake as a noun is 'the sum of money that is risked in a bet'. This may or may not be connected with the former (it is suggested that the object or sum of money which was being bet was placed 'on the stake', or beside a post where all could see it; but there is no proof of this.) The verb 'to stake' in this sense means to put money, or something else, on a bet or other form of risk. "The general staked his whole army on this one daring move" - or "the safety of the army was at stake." As a rich man may stake his guests' bets (that is, give them enough money to lay a bet, so figuratively we may stake a person to a meal, or a train fare and so on.
  • A steak is a thick slice of meat, usually in English-speaking countries a slice of beef. Steak is normally grilled or fried - unless it is stewing steak. Steaks may also be cut from big fish, such as tuna or salmon.
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