Third Wednesday: Gate vs. Gait

This set of sound-alike words tripped up the author in the book I read this morning.  Here’s a paraphrase of the wrong use:

“The old woman used her cane for emphasis as she proceeded with stately gate across the town square.”


Gate – a movable framework or solid structure controlling access through a wall or fence.  A numbered exit at an airport terminal.  A moveable barrier at a railroad crossing.

Alternate meanings:  1) Total amount of money collected as admission fees for a performance or exhibition.  2) Slang – get the gate = be dismissed from a position.

Tom swung idly on the gate while waiting for the postman to arrive.

The rock band, wildly popular in the eighties, expected their agent to negotiate a larger share of the gate.

Elwood never expected to get the gate when his company’s competitor bought him out.


Gait – a manner of walking or running.  Any trot, pace, canter, or galloping foot movement of a horse.  To train a horse to move in a particular gait.  To lead a dog before judges at a dog show in a way that shows its gait. 

Cowboys seem to have something in common–a telltale gait.

Tennessee Walker horses are valued for their unique, high-stepping gait.


Here’s another look at Gate and Gait.


The injured man tried to disguise his limping gate as he hurried away from his pursuers.

“All we need now is a white picket fence with a fancy gait under a rose-covered archway,” Melody sighed as she rested her head on her new husband’s shoulder.


Walt Disney created a magical entrance to his kingdom when he constructed a fancy gate beneath which every visitor passes.

Housewives tsked with judgement as they watched the bum’s stumbling gait down the street.

It’s hard to maintain a smooth running gait when the gate you must open each morning sticks instead of swinging smoothly.

Need a memory trick to distinguish these words?  If you can swing it open, or buy a steak dinner with it, you’ve got the gate.  If it’s about how you move your feet, or how an animal moves, use your “i’s.”