Consonants /v/ versus /z/, 164 pairs     [vestzest.html]

The /v/ sound is spelled with <v>, <ve> or <vv> in divvy. The /z/ sound is spelled <s>, <z> or <zz>. Notice that since dove and does are homographs (both for American speakers) they should really form two pairs.

The contrast is between a labio-dental fricative and an alveolar fricative, both voiced. Although the sounds are acoustically quite similar, the contrast is not a problem for learners.

One mildly taboo pair is peeve/pees.

A number of the pairs arise from contrasting an adjective ending in -ive with a plural noun or 3rd-person verb, such as successive/successes. Other interesting pairs include:

canvas Kansas
novel nozzle
swivel swizzle

The mean density value is 1.3%. The list makes 121 semantic distinctions, a loading of 74%.

abusive abuses 
aggrieve agrees
alive allies
arrive arise 
  arriving arising 
Ave as
brave braes 
brave braise
  braved braised 
  braving braising 
breve breeze 
calve cars
canvas Kansas 
cave K's 
clove close 
coercive coerces 
conducive conduces 
convulsive convulses 
coven cousin 
  covens cousins 
crave craze
  craved crazed
cursive curses 
curve curs 
Dave days
Davey Daisy 
defensive defences 
delve dells 
depressive depresses 
devolve dissolve
  devolved dissolved
  devolves dissolves
  devolving dissolving
dive dies 
divine design 
  divined designed 
  divines designs 
  divining designing 	
diviner designer 
  diviners designers 
divisive devices
divvy dizzy
  divvies dizzies
dove does 
drive dries 
drivel drizzle
  drivelled drizzled
  drivels drizzles
  drivelling drizzling
Eve E's 
evil easel 
  evils easels 
evilly easily 
excessive excesses 
expansive expanses 
expensive expenses 
expressive expresses 
frivol frizzle
  frivolled frizzled
  frivols frizzles
gave gays
grave grays
grove grows
have has 
haven't hasn't 
heave he's 
helve hells 
hive hies 
Hove hoes
Hove hose
impressive impresses 
I've I's 
I've eyes
knave neighs
lave lays
lave laze
  laved lazed
  laving lazing
leave leas 
leave lees
live lies 
louvre loser 
  louvres losers 
massive masses 
mauve mows
missive misses 
move moos 
naval nasal 
navel nasal
  navels nasals 
novel nozzle
  novels nozzles
obsessive obsesses 
of oz
offensive offences 
oppressive oppresses 
pave pays
peeve P's 
peeve pees
possessive possesses 
prevent present 
  prevented presented 
  preventing presenting 
  prevents presents 
preventable presentable 
progressive progresses 
purposive purposes 
rave raise 
  raved raised 
  raving raising 
rave rays  
raven raisin 
  ravens raisins 
raver raiser 
  ravers raisers 
recessive recesses 
regressive regresses 
repressive represses 
repulsive repulses 
responsive responses 
retrogressive retrogresses 
Rev res
revive revise 
  revived revised 
  reviving revising 
  revolution resolution 
  revolutions resolutions 
revolve resolve 
  revolved resolved 
  revolves resolves 
  revolving resolving 
rive rise 
  riven risen 
  riving rising 
rove rose 
serve sirs
shelve shells 
slave slays
starve stars 
stave stays
stove stows
successive successes 
suppressive suppresses 
swivel swizzle
  swivels swizzles
throve throes 
V zee
vase Tsars 
veal zeal
vest zest
Viv viz
viva visor
  vivas visors 
waive ways		  
waive weighs
wave ways
wave weighs
weave wheeze
  weaving wheezing
weave wees  
we've wees
wive Y's
wove woes 
you've U's 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, October 2010.