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The Difference Between Cite, Sight and Site

If you are like most people, you have likely confused the words site, cite and sight at one time or another. These homophones sound exactly the same when pronounced yet each has its own unique meaning and spelling. Let’s take a look at the meaning of each of these words to ensure readers use each in the proper context when e-mailing, texting and writing.

Cite

To cite something is to refer to it. As an example, one can cite a passage in the bible, a scholarly work or an author. Academic papers commonly cite numerous books, websites, speakers and other sources of information. Cite can also mean to mention something in support of one’s opinion or idea outside of an academic context. Furthermore, this word can be used to refer to the issuance of a notice of violation. As an example, a police officer can cite a driver for driving at a rate of speed above the posted speed limit. Another example is a summons that cites a defendant in lawsuit. Once cited, the individual in question is summoned for appearance in front of an authority such as a judge in court.

Site

When the word “site” is used as a noun, it refers to a place where something exists or has occurred. As an example, historic battle sites are common locations for tourists to visit. A site can also be an area where something will be, has been or is located. For example, history buffs enjoy visiting sites like the Washington Monument. “Site” is also a commonly used term for internet websites. Most people refer to websites in this shortened form (“sites”) as it requires less effort to speak, type and write. There are numerous variations of this word that typically involve the addition of a prefix to words. An example is the word “campsite”. Finally, site can be used as a verb. As an example, supplies can be sited near the water. Another example of site’s use as a verb is a local government siting a space as a commercial zone.

Sight

Sight means the ability to see. It is one of the five senses. Here is an example of a sentence in which the word “sight” is properly used: The old man gradually lost his sight as he got older. This word can also mean something or someone that is seen by another. As an example, one can describe a rainbow as a gorgeous sight. The word “sight” can also be used in the context of an interesting or famous place. People commonly reference the “sights” in big cities like Washington DC, New York City, Los Angeles etc. These “sights” are not to be confused with “sites”. Sites are a reference to places where important happenings occurred.

Additional meanings of sight include perception with one’s eyes and a device that aids eyes. For example, guns are commonly built with sights to assist the shooter’s vision when attempting to pinpoint his target. An array of popular idioms and phrases using the word “sight” are used with regularity. Examples include “out of sight, out of mind”, “set your sights” and “a sight for sore eyes”.

How to Remember the Differences Between Cite, Site and Sight

Let’s take a look at a few tips and tricks to help you distinguish these homophones from one another. Try to think of “cite” as short form for “citation”. Associate the word “site” to “website”. Though the word’s meaning extends beyond websites, websites are places people can go and visit just like every other type of “site”. Finally, think of the word “light” when trying to remember the meaning of the word “sight”. Light is necessary for sight.

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