Only one letter separates ‘wreath’ and ‘wreathe’, and these words are related. As such, they’re easy to mix up! But these terms also have distinct uses. Make sure you can use them correctly with our guide below.
‘Wreath’, spelled without an ‘e’ at the end, is a noun that refers to a circular arrangement of flowers and leaves. Nowadays, wreaths are mostly associated with Christmas and memorials:
We put a wreath on our front door for the holidays every year.
The mourners laid a wreath at the foot of the grave.
However, you’ve probably also seen images of people wearing laurel wreaths as headgear (an item known as a chaplet and associated with ancient Rome).
‘Wreathe’ is a verb with two key meanings. One is ‘cover or surround something’. This could be with a literal wreath or merely figuratively:
We will wreathe the tree with flowers and baubles.
Wreathed in smoke, the villain stepped into the room.
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The other main use is to simply mean ‘shape into a wreath’:
We’ve been wreathing flowers for the tree all morning.
The verb ‘wreathe’ is rarer than the noun form above, though.
Summary: Wreath or Wreathe?
Although similarly spelled, these words have very different uses:
Wreath is a noun and refers to a circle made of flowers and leaves.
Wreathe is a verb that usually means ‘cover or surround something’.
The spelling difference here is similar to the one we see in ‘breath’ and ‘breathe’ or ‘sheath’ and ‘sheathe’, where the words ending in ‘e’ are verbs. Thus, if you struggle to tell these words apart, just remember that you need an ‘e’ at the end if you’re describing an action.
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