Spelling lesson

This is a mini-spelling rant about homophones, words that sound the same but are spelled differently and mean separate things. If you want to avoid impending bitchiness, bail out now.

LIGHTNING: the zig-zaggy stuff in the sky that often accompanies thunderstorms, as in "greased lightning." LIGHTENING: when you make something lighter in color or weight, as in "lightening the load."

PEEK: a stolen glance. Yes, it rhymes with "sneak," but there is no "a" in this word. PEAK: the top of a mountain, or the pointy top of something. As in "snow-capped peaks" or "egg whites whipped into soft peaks."

BEAR: to carry something, as in "to bear weight" or "to bear a grudge against someone"; or to give birth to, as in "child-bearing years." And, of course, the animal (grizzly or teddy). BARE: to expose, as in "bare naked" or "bare your soul."

And no, you can't use the first word to mean the second just because you think the rest of the world is wrong and you're right, or because you want other people to work to figure out what you mean. (That means you, Ivan.) Messing with the language that way means you don't want to communicate what's on your mind, and if that's the case, then just don't say anything.

Now go out there and use your vocabulary properly. End of rant.