In doing research for the question Is it “close-minded” or “closed-minded”?, which was in turn prompted by the discussion under this answer to another question, I realized that some of the confusion around the word close had to do with its versatility (it can be an adverb, adjective, noun or verb).
We have two primary pronunciations of close (klōz and klōs) that help us distinguish how the word is being used. I thought at first that this was fairly straightforward. When the 'z' sound is used, it is usually a verb:
I close the door.
The 'z' ending is also used in the following noun form:
I'll bring my argument to a close.
When the 's' ending is used, it is usually either an adjective in these ways,
The hotel is close to the sea.
My brother and I are very close.
or an adverb in these ways:
Please sit close to me.
I'll keep your secret close.
But as I read through the lengthy entries on close in my New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, things started to get confusing. I found close (klōs) listed as a noun meaning a closed place and close (klōs) also listed as an adjective meaning closed, shut as well as secretive, stingy, and hidden.
- How and when did the different uses of close take on different pronunciations?
- Are close (klōs) as a noun and close (klōs) = closed familiar to others?
- If these rarer uses of close (klōs) were once common, when and why did they fall out of favor?
- Etymologically, what overlap exists between close (klōs) = near and close (klōz) = shut?