The problem with homonyms is they sound alike, when we read and write most of us say the words aloud in our mind; we have been taught to sound them out from the earliest age. That skill while always helpful, can create problems if we are not diligent in catching the incorrect word for the context. This problem is widespread in the English language and common usage. Two examples: to, too, and two; there, their, and they’re. The English language is full of these tripping hazards.
These three words are related in Latin, an ancient Romance language; all of them have traveled extensively through Old French, Middle English and into our current era.
Council usually refers to an official body directed to consider one or more matters necessary to the operation of a governmental, business, ecclesiastical, or private organization. A Council can be temporary or permanent, elected or appointed.
Counsel can be a noun. It can be the proffered results of the previous word, Council, the advice or decision made after deliberations have ended. It can also be a lawyer or lawyers, as in Counsel for the Defense. As a verb, it means to give advice, by an authority or trusted friend.
There are many synonyms for both of these words, differing shades of meaning are one of the things that make the English language such a rich medium of expression.
Consul is a person appointed by a governmental body to represent it in a different organization or foreign country. An ambassador or diplomat would live in the foreign country and represent the interests of the sending body.
There we have our three words, similar in sound and closely related in definition. Using the wrong word in your context will not trigger your spell-checker and a pothole has been created for your reader. We all want a smooth ride for the consumers of our writing.
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