I was listening to a lecture about Mercantilism where I heard a word that sounded like Welf. I tried to find if this word exists but I didn't find. In the lecture I heard this:

The amassing of gold in payment for exports in excess of imports would allow a nation to build the welf.

By the context I suppose that welf is an abbreviation of "welfare", but I'm not sure. Can you tell me what is the word heard? Or, if welf sure is an abbreviation of "welfare"?

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    I've never heard welf before, and I'm not really sure that welfare would make a ton of sense there. Are you sure it wasn't wealth? – Dusty Apr 25 '11 at 13:04
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    I think this is too localised. It's akin to the auditory equivalent of a typo, except the mistake is by the hearer, not the speaker. – FumbleFingers Mar 27 '12 at 16:09
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    @FumbleFingers, if a speaker says welf instead of wealth, that is a mistake by the speaker, not the listener. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Mar 27 '12 at 19:05
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    @jwpat7: If you want to be pedantic, I suppose. But in fact many people articulate "th" as "f" in at least some contexts. Particularly, for example, if the following consonant is sibilant. So I would classify it as more the hearer's than the speaker's mistake if "A toast to your good helf, Sir" were misunderstood as introducing some strange new word into the utterance. It's harder to spot what's going on because of the transcription difference, but at the phonetic level that really is a trivial "deviation from standard pronunciation". – FumbleFingers Mar 27 '12 at 19:27
  • That could've gone either way: a hearer could hear "welf" when "wealth" was said, or a speaker could say "welf" when "wealth" was meant. (Lots of people misspeak or mishear from time to time.) The net result would be the same: "Huh?" – J.R. Dec 13 '12 at 10:47

I think you heard wealth:

  • an abundance of valuable possessions or money
  • the state of being rich
  • material prosperity

(And no, I don't know of any common abbreviation for “welfare”.)

  • I just thought in abbreviation because the only word that came to my mind was "welfare". – Ed. Brazil Apr 25 '11 at 13:37
  • @Ed: Don't forget to mark a question as answered once your question was answered! :) – MrHen Apr 25 '11 at 16:58
  • @MrHen I don't know how to do that! Could you help? I marked one of the answers as an accepted answer. – Ed. Brazil Apr 25 '11 at 19:58
  • @Ed: Looks good! Once you see the little green checkmark than the answer has been accepted. You can see which questions of yours still need an accepted answer on your profile. Click your name and look for a green box around the number of answers. If the box is missing, go into the question and look for an answer to accept. – MrHen Apr 25 '11 at 20:29

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