Third Wednesday: Neigh vs. Nigh

This week let’s talk about another look-alike pair of words, even though these two don’t sound alike.  This is the way our first word was used in a book.

“‘The end of your tyranny is neigh,’ cackled the wizard as he raised his staff.”


Neigh – loud, characteristic cry of a horse; to make a horse-like sound. 

          Pronounced like “nay.”

Raymond heard the horse neigh before he saw it racing across the meadow.

Alice’s laugh attracts attention because it sounds exactly like a horse’s neigh.


Nigh – near in time, place, or relationship.  Slightly short of, or not quite accomplished.  Being on the left side.

          Pronounced – ni (with a long “i”)

Hermoine’s grave lies nigh to Elbert Minchion’s final resting place.

Grandma complained that Miz Galligan could talk nigh onto an hour about nothing in particular.


Here’s another look at Neigh and Nigh.


The only way to steal the blueprints was to get neigh to the plant owner’s daughter by any means necessary.

Wolves circled the corral, and Victoria’s horse began to nigh with fear.


There’s nothing quite like hearing the neigh of happy horses drift across the field in the early morning.

When you are nigh unto nature, it is possible to forget you had to circle the parking lot nigh onto fifteen minutes before stepping foot into the national park.

Just as the bank robbers drew nigh to Sheriff Bart’s hiding place, his horse neighed a greeting to theirs.


Need a memory trick to distinguish these words?  Kids make that “eeehhhhh” sound while riding stick horses.  So if there’s an “e” in the word, it rhymes with hay, which is what horses eat.  Otherwise, it’s all about where something is in relation to time or place.