Word Choice: Male vs. Mail

Word Choice Male vs. Mail

“Male” and “mail” sound the same, but they mean completely different things and you would not want to confuse them. As such, we’re here to help you understand how to use these terms correctly in your writing.

Male (Men or Related to Men)

The word “male” can be an adjective or a noun and, scientifically, refers to the sex that produces sperm and fertilizes eggs (as compared to “female”). This can be a person, an animal, or even a plant:

We studied 18 male mice.

The study examines 12 males and 14 females.

In everyday terms, though, “male” usually refers to men, boys, or masculinity:

I joined an all-male choir.

Construction is a male-dominated industry.

More rarely, “male” refers to a connector that slots into something. Even this, though, is an allusion to the kind of maleness described above! And since this blog is safe for work, we’ll leave the details to your imagination.

Bolt and nut = male and female connections.

Bolt and nut = male and female connections.
(Photo: Pavel Krok/wikimedia)

Mail (Post and Letters)

“Mail” is typically a noun that refers to items sent through the post or by email. You can use it for either the system used to deliver post or the items that were delivered. For instance:

The surveys were distributed by mail and email.

The mail arrived this afternoon.

This word can also be a verb meaning “send something by post”:

I mailed it to you.

Historically, “mail” was also a type of armour made from interlinked metal rings (i.e., chain mail). However, as it fell out of favour in the fourteenth century, you’re not likely to see this use of “mail” in a modern context!

Unless you spend a lot of time at historical re-enactments, obviously.

Unless you spend a lot of time at historical re-enactments, obviously.
(Photo: LadyEarlene)

Summary: Male or Mail?

When choosing between “male” and “mail,” remember:

  • Male usually refers to boys, men, or masculinity.
  • Mail refers to post, the postal service, or email.

If you struggle with these terms, keep in mind that old-fashioned post is sometimes called “snail mail” because it is much slower than email (i.e., it travels at a snail’s pace). And if you can remember that “snail” and “mail” end in the same letters, it should be easy to avoid spelling errors with this word.

For further help with spelling or any other aspect of your writing, moreover, why not submit a document to one of our proofreading experts?

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