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Horde / Hoard –“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”  Mark Twain

Check this category every week for a new set of ceaselessly confused, misused or misspelled words to master. Break the cycle of language abuse! 

Beware the thundering hordes who hoard like hoarders and have hordes of children who have been horded into summer camps so that hordes of parents are free to manage the hoarding of the family hoards.


Take a minute. See if you can sort out the hordes of hoards in the passage above. Feel free to consult a dictionary.


Welcome back. I hope things are a little clearer to you now. If not, that’s why I’m here.

Let’s proceed.

Hordes are crowds. We use the word connotatively to mean uncontrolled crowds, crowds that make us uncomfortable, crowds that are up to no good, crowds that we don’t feel safe in or around, crowds that we’d like to see dispersed. Or it could just mean a big crowd, currently well-behaved but that carries the potential of getting out of hand. Hordes can be horded, meaning they can be directed into contained areas like bleachers, holding pens, police cars—or school buses.

Hoards are piles of possessions you either don’t need or refuse to share. Hoarders hoard and are obsessed with hoarding.

So between the two of these words, we have enough different parts of speech to go around.

When you say these words, they sound exactly the same, so knowing the difference between their spellings is not an issue for speakers. But still, anyone who uses them in speaking or in writing should at least know that they are dealing with two, unique, individual words.

So, “I horded a horde” means “I managed a crowd.” But “I hoarded a hoard” means “I collected a pile of stuff.” Two very different things.

Your Turn

  • For thirty-six years, I was a public-school teacher. I horded kids all day long. To the auditorium. To the gym. To the cafeteria. Outside to the bleachers. Inside to the library. In and out of classrooms. Onto busses.

If you are or ever were a public-school student, you have been horded. Maybe by me. It was just part of the job.

Write about a time when you were part of a horde or experienced being horded, either in school, at an event, an audition, a concert, a sporting match, on a trip or any other crowded area. Where were you going? How was it done? How did it feel?

OK. That was fun. Now let’s give the other word equal time.

  • I don’t consider myself a hoarder. I’m a collector—of rocks, books, pens and a vast amount of things on paper that I might need someday. OK, so maybe I’m borderline. My office and basement could definitely use a cleaning out.

Everybody hoards something. Seashells, newspapers, dolls, post cards, letters, holiday decorations, souvenirs, tools, money, matchboxes, toys, memories, hopes, dreams.

Write about things that you “collect” that you can’t rid yourself of. What kind of hoarding do you do? What clutters your closets, your basement, your computer or your head?

Surely there’s something. Come on. Time to ‘fess up.

Answers for Passed / Past page

1. past past passed 2. past passed past 3. passed 4. passed passed past 5. passed past