I'm not exactly sure how to state my question but I'll try my best. While reading a biography of Dante, I stumbled upon the word "guild." I took a look at www.freedictionary.com to find its meaning, and I found out by looking at the definitions that the word "guild" and the word "gild" can be used interchangeably when they are used as a noun. However, my questions would be, why can't the words be used interchangeably as a verb as well? Is there a rule in English that could explain why some words can be used interchangeably while they are used as nouns but not as verbs?

And lastly, just out of curiosity, are there any other words similar to "guild" and "gild" that can only be used interchangeably when they are nouns but not as verbs, or vice versa, that can be used interchangeably as verbs but not as nouns?

guild also gild (gĭld)
1. a. An association of persons of the same trade or pursuits, formed to protect mutual interests and maintain standards.
b. A similar association, as of merchants or artisans, in medieval times.
2. Ecology A group of species in a community that use similar environmental resources in a similar way, such as a group of songbirds that all glean insects from leaves.


gild (ɡɪld)
vb (tr) , gilds, gilding, gilded or gilt (ɡɪlt)
1. to cover with or as if with gold
2. gild the lily
a. to adorn unnecessarily something already beautiful
b. to praise someone inordinately
3. to give a falsely attractive or valuable appearance to
4. to smear with blood
[Old English gyldan, from goldgold; related to Old Norse gylla, Middle High German vergülden]
ˈgilder n
gild 2 (gĭld) n. Variant of guild.


  • 2
    guild can’t be used interchangeably with gild as a verb, because there is no verb guild.
    – Jim
    Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 4:42
  • Indeed, how do you propose "group of people" be done as an action ?
    – Yeshe
    Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 5:52
  • 1
    @ Jim I'm sorry, I don't think I'm asking the correct question. Let me try again... These words “gild” and “guild”, when they work as nouns, have the same meaning, same pronunciation, but they are spelled different. What are they called? For instance, these same words “gild” and “guild” are homophones because they have different meaning, different spelling but the same pronunciation. Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 5:55
  • 2
    The spelling "gild" for a collection of workers is archaic.
    – docwebhead
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 20:51

1 Answer 1


Guild, an association of craftsmen formed for mutual protection of business, has no action form. There is no verb "guild".

Gild, used as a noun can be the same definition, and can be used interchangeably with guild.

However, it also has a verb form, which refers in general to making something shiny in some form (specific definitions are listed above). This can't be replaced with guild, since that word has no verb definition.

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