Make Your Editor Cry: Hoard vs Horde

Make Your Editor Cry: Hoard vs Horde

To hoard is to squirrel stuff away, like gold coins or canned goods. A horde is usually a crowd of people but it can also be a swarm of mosquitoes, robots, or rabid reporters. The only reason people get these words confused is that they sound alike.

If you gather all the info you can about hoard, and store it away for later, you’ll find it comes from the word for “hidden treasure.” When you hoard something, you are collecting lots of material, usually of value, in secret. You store these things in case you need them later. It’s a noun and a verb. Hoarding canned goods, fresh water, and batteries before a hurricane is smart. Hoarding toilet tissue at the outset of a global pandemic? Maybe a little over the top.

To hoard is to save something (or lots of things) for future use. Squirrels hoard nuts for the winter. Little old ladies who live with too many cats tend to hoard canned food and used plastic bags.

A horde, on the other hand, is a busy mob, like the one that chases Frankenstein’s monster with torches or who cry out to PIlot for Christ’s crucifixion. Hordes are often roving and mad. Horde is usually derogatory and should be used with care. Use the word horde to describe a large crowd in a negative sense: “A horde of screaming fans followed the pop star as she left the arena.”

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