Homophones: Band, Banned

You Could Be Band If You Play in That Band – Huh?

by Owen Fourie

Two words that should not really be confused are band and banned.

With the popularity of rock bands, it is unlikely that this kind of band will ever be spelled banned as the subtitle affirms.

What is disturbing is the growing use of band in contexts in which banned should be used.

Confusing words

Again, the Internet is a remarkable place to find such errors, and I have seen band being used instead of banned more than once.

In one instance, concerning the use of irrelevant keywords, we are told that this practice “could get your site band from many search engines.”

Such usage could indicate that the writer is unaware of the existence of the word banned.

How not to confuse words

Whenever and wherever you are writing, you have a responsibility to be aware of the words that you are choosing. This awareness, an alert and questioning mind, and the use of a dictionary are basic requirements.

Part of your awareness is a knowledge of homophones, homonyms, and homographs. Let’s deal with these terms before we resolve the band-banned confusion at the end of this article.

Here is a tabulation to help you to understand these terms:


(can be a homonym and a homograph)


(can be a homophone and a homograph)


(can be a homophone and a homonym)

Pronunciation Same Same Same



(a heteronym or heterophone)

Spelling Different

(a heterograph)



Same Same
Meaning Different Different Different


Homophones are words that have the same pronunciation, but they differ in spelling and in meaning.

When they differ in spelling, they are also heterographs (peak, as in mountain peak; peek, as in looking through a keyhole; pique, as in arousing a person’s curiosity).

They can have the same spelling, so they are also homonyms and homographs (rose, as in flower; rose, as in the past tense of rise).

When they have the same spelling, it is perhaps better to think of them as homonyms.


Homonyms are words that have the same pronunciation and the same spelling, but they differ in meaning (bank, as in money; bank, as in a river’s left or right bank; bank, as in a piled-up mass of snow or clouds). They can also be homophones and homographs.


Homographs are words that can have the same pronunciation and the same spelling while they differ in meaning (bear, as in carrying a load; bear, as in the animal). They can also be homophones and homonyms.

They can differ in pronunciation too (sow, as in planting seed; sow, as in the female pig). In this case, they are heterophones or heteronyms.

When something is banned, don’t turn it into a band

It’s time to “disband” the use of band for banned, so let’s simply get the meanings of these words right.


Here are only a few of the uses of the word band:

  • The farmer secured the bale of cotton with a metal band. – Not heavy metal 🙂
  • Putting a wedding band on the ring finger of the bride’s left hand is an important part of the marriage ceremony.
  • Band Aid is a trade name for an adhesive bandage used to cover small cuts.
  • During times of high sunspot activity, some radio amateurs have been able to contact many countries by using the six-meter band.
  • The band of gypsies camped near the stream.
  • The ornithologists marked each of the migrating birds with a band.
  • The people are feeling uneasy because they know that the vigilantes will band together to take the law into their own hands.


Banned is the past tense of the word ban. It describes some form of censure or condemnation.

  • The City Council of Geneva resisted Calvin and Farel’s ideas and banned the two reformers from their city in 1538.
  • After Calvin’s return to Geneva in 1541, activities such as dancing and gambling were banned.
  • The City Council has banned the use of hoses and sprinklers for watering gardens on four days of the week during the drought.
  • Smoking has been banned on all the airlines’ flights.
  • Using irrelevant keywords could get your website banned by many search engines.

Strike up the band! Now we know how to use band and banned.


Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome. Are you struggling with homophones or any other aspect of grammar and correct usage? Ask here for clarification.

Here are more articles to help you with English words, grammar, and essay writing.

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