I once hoped that the A&E series Hoarders would help people use hoard and horde correctly.
That was a fantasy, perhaps, but I thought that seeing the name of the show repeatedly would cause someone to think twice the next time a homophone popped up.
If at this point, you’re wondering what kind of dweeb fantasizes about proper word usage, you’ve probably landed on the wrong website. So scram already. Go look at pictures of fudge pie or some other food porn (or whatever you fantasize about).
Where was I? Oh yes, the fantasy that people might actually learn to use hoard and horde correctly. I suppose I should have just given up when I saw that 638 people had “liked” a Facebook group called “Horders on A&E.” But I live in hope.
Why, I’m not sure. Just this weekend, I ran across the sentence at the top of this post, with its reference to “hoards of visitors” at a local museum. Once I saw that, I decided it was time for a refresher lesson in hoard and horde. So here goes:
As a noun, hoard means a large accumulation that is often cherished or carefully guarded. As a verb, it means to create that vast accumulation.
Or, “I’ve hoarded dictionaries for so long that I finally had to add a room to the house.”
Horde can also be a noun or a verb. The noun is more common, though. It means a throng or a large group connected in some way.
For instance, “A horde of eager students signed up to take the grammar class.”
Horde can also be a verb meaning to become a horde, though personally I’d avoid using it that way.
The New Oxford American Dictionary suggests trying to keep hoard and horde straight by thinking about “stashing your hoard behind the loose board.” The thought of visitors being stuffed into the floorboards of a museum would give most people pause, as long as they weren’t distracted by fudge pie.
Frankly, though, I’d suggest looking up hoard and horde when you use them. That will cut down on the chances of the right word falling between the cracks.