The words ‘gate’ and ‘gait’ sound the same, but they have different meanings. Since they have similar spellings too, it can be easy to confuse them. In this post, we’ll look at how to make sure you use the correct word in your writing.
Gate (Moveable Barrier)
The word ‘gate’ is a noun that generally refers to part of a fence that opens and closes like a door. For example:
The gates to the park will be locked at 10pm.
My garden gate has rusty hinges.
Other barriers may also be called a ‘gate’, too. For instance, the part of an airport where you get on or off an aircraft is usually called a ‘gate’:
Gate 14 is now ready for boarding.
Another meaning for ‘gate’ is the number of people that attend a large event, such as a sports game, or the amount of money taken from attendees:
We saw a gate of 14,000 people last weekend.
The gate for the match was lower than last season.
We can also use ‘-gate’ as a suffix after a noun to create a name for a scandal:
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The politician’s Italian holiday scandal is being referred to as ‘pastagate’.
‘Gait’ is a noun that refers to the way a person or animal walks or runs:
Mark’s gait has been unsteady since the car accident.
She won a prize for her horse’s excellent gait.
Very rarely, ‘gait’ can also be a verb that means ‘train an animal to walk a certain way’, usually a horse or a dog. In most cases, though, ‘gait’ will be a noun.
Summary: Gate or Gait?
While these words look and sound similar, they have very different meanings:
Gate usually refers to part of a fence that opens and closes like a door.
Gait typically refers to how a person or animal walks.
‘Gate’ is the more common of these words, so it is the one you are likely to need most often. The only time you will need ‘gait’ is when describing how someone or something is walking, so in all other cases the correct spelling will be ‘gate’.