‘Heel’ vs ‘Heal’: What’s the Difference?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on March 7, 2023

Are you wondering whether to use ‘heel’ or ‘heal’? And what is the difference between the two words? We’ll answer that in this article, plus teach you how to use them both in a sentence. You’ll also learn how to pronounce them correctly.

Need a quick answer? Here it is:

  • ‘Heel’ is a noun that refers to the back part of the foot or a scoundrel.
  • ‘Heal’ is a verb that means to restore to health.

As you can see, these words sound the same but mean different things. That means they’re homophones. Therefore, you shouldn’t use them interchangeably.  

‘Heal’ vs. ‘Heel’ – Confusing Words and Homonyms in English

Both these words sound exactly the same, but they mean two completely different things, making them homophones or homonyms.

Some examples of homophones include:

That means you should avoid using them interchangeably. Otherwise, your sentences will be incorrect and ungrammatical.

As you just learned, ‘heel’ is a noun that refers to the bottom of the foot. But it can also refer to a scoundrel.

‘Heal’ is a verb that means to restore to health or to repair.

‘Heel’ vs. ‘Heal’ – What’s the Difference?

As you know, ‘heel’ and ‘heal’ are homophones. While they sound the same, they don’t mean the same thing.

You know, the difference is that the former is a noun and the latter a verb.

You also know that you’d use ‘heel’ when talking about a body part and ‘heal’ when you’re talking about repairing or restoring something.

Definition of ‘Heel’: What Does ‘Heel’ Mean?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘heel’ as:

  • The back of the human foot below the ankle and behind the arch and one of the crusty ends of a loaf of bread.

It also means:

  • the part (as of a shoe) that covers the human heel
  • a solid attachment of a shoe or boot forming the back of the sole under the heel of the foot
  • a rear, low, or bottom part
  • the after the end of a ship’s keel or the lower end of a mast
  • the base of a tuber or cutting of a plant used for propagation of the plant
  • the base of a ladder
  • a contemptible person (someone self-centered or untrustworthy)

Definition of ‘Heal’: What Does ‘Heal’ Mean?

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘heal’ is:

  • To make it free from injury or disease (to make it sound or whole).

It also means:

  • to make well again (to restore health)
  • to cause (an undesirable condition) to be overcome (mend)
  • to patch up or correct (a breach or division)
  • to restore to original purity or integrity
  • to become free from injury or disease: to return to a sound taste

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Heel’ and ‘Heal’

Are you unsure of how to pronounce these words?

Here’s a short guide.

To pronounce these words correctly, here’s the phonetic spelling:


How to Use ‘Heel’ and ‘Heal’ in a Sentence Correctly

Now that we know what these words mean and how to pronounce them, let’s see some examples of how to use them in a sentence correctly.


  • The heel of my foot was aching so badly yesterday that I had to go to Urgent Care.
  • I have to wear a special pair of shoes because of the way my heel formed when I was born. I’m going to have to wear them for the rest of my life.
  • My Achilles heel has been bothering me lately. I should call my doctor.
  • The heel of my shoe is scuffed. My mom is going to kill me because she just bought me these shoes.


  • Miss Summers is out for the semester while her leg heals. She was hit by a bus last month.
  • I cut my finger open last week, and it’s finally starting to heal.
  • I’m so grateful I’m starting to heal. I’ve been stuck in bed with COVID for about two weeks.
  • When I broke my leg skiing last month, it took me a whole two months to heal. I was so miserable lying in bed watching TV all day by myself.

Final Thoughts on ‘Heel’ and ‘Heal’

To recap, we learned the following:

  • ‘Heel’ is a noun, and it refers to the back part of the foot or a scoundrel.
  • ‘Heal’ is a verb, and it means to restore to health or to repair.

Remember, these words sound the same, but they mean different things, making them homophones. That’s why you should never use them interchangeably.

If you ever get stuck on anything, you can always come back and review what you learned. We’ve also got a ton of other content on confusing words and phrases you might come across as you’re learning the language. Feel free to check it out whenever you need to.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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