Word Choice: Made vs. Maid

Made vs. Maid

The title of the 2002 Jennifer Lopez romcom Maid in Manhattan is a pun. Not a very funny pun, but then it wasn’t a very funny movie either. So at least it’s consistent on that level. And “made” and “maid” do indeed sound the same while having different meanings, so it is, undeniably, a pun.

JLo is pictured here trying to think of a better title. (Poster/Film: Columbia Pictures)
JLo is pictured here trying to think of a better title.
(Poster/Film: Columbia Pictures)

However, if you’ve not seen the movie and  don’t get the joke – or if you’re simply worried about mixing up the words “made” and “maid” in your writing – check out our guide to how these terms work below.

Made (Past Tense of Make)

The word “made” is the simple past tense and past participle form of the verb “make.” As such, we use it when something has been “produced,” “constructed,” “achieved,” or “carried out.” For example:

The horn made an unpleasant sound when he blew it.

They made the tower from glass and steel.

We have made great progress in the last week.

I made the phone call first thing this morning.

We also see this term used adjectivally sometimes. Usually, this will refer to how something was made, such as in the terms “handmade” (i.e., made by hand) or “self-made” (i.e., made without help). Even in these cases, though, “made” refers to the idea of being produced or constructed.

Maid (A Female Domestic Servant)

The noun “maid” is a name for a female domestic servant, typically in a house or hotel. For instance, you might hear someone say:

The maid comes in once a day to clean the room.

You’ll see it used alone and combined with various other terms, depending on the work done by the woman or girl in question Common examples include “chambermaid,” “milkmaid,” and “handmaid.”

This is because, in the past, people used “maid” as a general term for an unmarried or virginal woman, so it had a wide application. However, this is not true in modern English, so you are unlikely to see it used so widely now.

Summary: Made or Maid?

These words have very different meanings, so you won’t want to mix them up in your writing. Remember the following distinction:

  • Made is the simple past tense and past participle of the verb “make.” Typically, then, it means something like “produced” or “carried out.”
  • Maid is a noun meaning “a woman or girl who works as a domestic servant.”

If you struggle to tell these words apart, keep in mind that “made” is only one letter away from “make.” So if you can remember “make,” you should be able to remember what “made” means, too. And if you need any more help with the spelling in a document, we’re always here to help.

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