'Peel' vs 'Peal': What's the Difference?

By Katie Moore, updated on July 21, 2023

‘Peel’ vs’ ‘Peal’: What’s the Difference? Sometimes we discover new words by misspelling others — did you know that ‘Peel’ vs ‘Peal’ are not typos but different words? When one letter changes everything, we have to be sure we’ve learned the ins and outs of our vocabulary. 

In a rush? Here’s an overview of what’s to come: 

  • ‘Peel’ is a word that means to remove the outer layer or skin from something
  • ‘Peal’ is a term that refers to the ringing of bells

What’s the Difference Between ‘Peel’ vs ‘Peal’?

Aside from the obvious difference in spelling, a major difference between these two words is the parts of speech they belong to. 

  • ‘Peel’ is a verb, meaning it describes an action. Meanwhile, ‘Peal’ is a noun, meaning it describes a thing, in this case, a sound. 

Because of this, the two words naturally don’t have the same meaning, but determining which one to use can be complicated. Why? Because these words are what are called homophones. 

Homophones are words that sound the same, are spelled differently, and have different meanings. If we look at the etymology of the word, we see the Latin roots ‘homo’ meaning “same” and ‘phone’ meaning “sound,” which serve as a memory clue. 

‘Peel’ vs ‘Peal’ are a great example of homophones — here are a few more: 

Homophones can be tricky to learn, but we’re here to give you all the tools to unlock two words practically for the price of one. Let’s dive into our new words and take a closer look at ‘Peel’ vs ‘Peal.’

Definition of ‘Peel’: What Does it Mean?

According to Oxford Languages, ‘Peel’ is a verb that means:

  • Remove the outer covering or skin from (a fruit or vegetable)
    • “She watched him peel an apple with deliberate care.”
  • (of a fruit or a vegetable) have a skin that can be removed
    • “Oranges that peel easily.”
  • (of a surface or object) lose parts of its outer layer or covering in small strips or pieces
    • “The wallpaper is peeling.”
  • (of an outer layer or covering) come off, especially in strips or small pieces
    • “Paint was peeling from the storefront.”

As a noun, ‘Peel’ can also mean: 

  • The outer covering or rind of a fruit or vegetable

Synonyms of ‘Peel’

  • Decorticate
  • Flake
  • Flay
  • Shave
  • Strip
  • Skin
  • Covering
  • Rind
  • Bark
  • Husk
  • Exocarp

Antonyms of ‘Peel’

  • Cover
  • Wrap
  • Innards
  • Insides

Phrases with ‘Peel’

  • Peel off
  • Peel out
  • To peel
  • The peel
  • Peel a fruit

Definition of ‘Peal’: What Does it Mean?

According to Oxford Languages, ‘Peal’ is a noun that means: 

  • A loud ringing of a bell or bells
    • “The bell rang again, a long, loud peal
  • (of bell-ringing) a series of unique changes (strictly at least five thousand) rung on a set of bells 
  • A set of bells (i.e. not only the sound but the name of a set itself)
  • A loud, repeated, or reverberating sound of thunder or laughter
    • “They burst into peals of laughter.”

As a verb, ‘Peal’ can also mean: 

  • (of a bell or bells) ring loudly or in a peal
    • “All the bells of the city began to peal.”
  • (of laughter or thunder) to sound in a peal
    • “Aunt Edie’s laughter pealed around the parlor.”
  • Convey or give out by the ringing of bells
    • “The carillon pealed out the news to the waiting city.”

Synonyms of ‘Peal’

  • Chime
  • Clang
  • Blast
  • Clamor
  • Ring
  • Resounding
  • Rumble
  • Bell
  • Knell

Antonyms of ‘Peal’

  • Quiet 
  • Silence
  • Recede
  • Descend
  • Linger

Phrases with ‘Peal’

  • A peal of bells
  • A trumpet’s peal
  • Peal of thunder

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Peel’ vs ‘Peal’

One of the nice things about homophones is that when you learn to pronounce one, you’ve learned to pronounce all its homophone counterparts. While this can lead to confusion when the words are not written in front of you, like when you’re in a conversation, it also eliminates the stress of learning to carefully annunciate to differentiate between words. 

Since pronunciation is so key to both conversations and important academic or career presentations, we want to make sure you’re saying these new words correctly. 

Use this phonetic spelling of both ‘Peel’ and ‘Peal’ as a guide: 

  • ‘P-eel’ (notice that the pronunciation follows the long “ee” sound)

How to Use ‘Peel’ vs ‘Peal’ in a Sentence

There is one last tool to arm you within the world of homophones: context. Whenever you encounter homophones, particularly when speaking, paying attention to the context will guarantee you use the right spelling of a word and help you identify which definition to rely on. 

Fortunately, ‘Peel’ vs ‘Peal’ are wildly different when it comes to their definitions, so it’s highly unlikely they’ll appear side by side. But, looking at example sentences like the ones below will help you nail down not only some ways you can use these words in your work but how you can recognize them in the real world. 

‘Peel’ Example Sentences

  • Some people prefer to mash their potatoes with the potato skins still on, while others prefer to peel them first. 
  • The thief peeled out of the parking lot at lightning speed, hoping to evade the cops. 
  • Recipes sometimes call for the addition of orange peels to add flavor to the food or drink.
  • He forgot to put sunscreen on, and his brutal sunburn had finally reached a stage where his skin started to peel

‘Peal’ Example Sentences

  • The peals of hundreds of bells rang from the church bell tower at the end of the wedding. 
  • The crowd let out a peal of laughter after the comedian told a particularly funny joke. 
  • The rolling sound of thunder pealed across the sky like a stampede. 
  • The peal of the school bell on the last day before break was like music to my ears. 

Final Advice on ‘Peel’ vs ‘Peal’

When one letter can make all the difference in the meaning of a word, it can occasionally make learning new vocabulary frustrating. But, when you acquire tools like the ones above to tackle homophones, you’ll be able to expand your language knowledge exponentially. 

Want a recap? Here’s a quick review of what we covered:

  • ‘Peel’ is a verb that means to remove the skin or covering of something, typically a fruit.
  • Meanwhile, ‘Peal’ is a noun that refers to the loud ringing sound of bells. 

Want to learn more about homophones and other similar word pairs? Check out some of our other confusing word articles to broaden your understanding of this type of word.

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Written By:
Katie Moore
Katie is a recent graduate of Occidental College where she worked as a writer and editor for the school paper while studying linguistics and journalism. She loves helping others find their voice in writing and making their work the strongest it can be. Katie also loves learning and speaking other languages and wants to help make writing accessible for everyone.

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