“Peal” or “Peel”: What’s The Difference?

dark green text "peel vs peal" on light green background

Peal and peel are pronounced exactly the same and look very similar, but their meanings are quite different.

In this article, join us as we peel back the layers of difference between peal and peel, show how to use the forms pealing and peeling, and provide examples of how these words are used in sentences.

Quick summary

Both peel and peal can be a noun or verb. As a verb, peel relates to the skin or outer layer of something being removed (Please peel these potatoes) or coming off (The paint is peeling). As a noun, peel refers to this skin or outer layer (a banana peel) or to the tool that’s used to remove pizza and other things from an oven. The word peal almost always relates to sound, especially the sound of a bell. As a verb, it most commonly means to sound out loudly (The bells pealed out); as a noun, it commonly refers to ringing or another loud sound (A peal of thunder cracked the silence).

peal vs. peel

Peal and peel are homophones: they sound the same but are spelled differently and have completely different meanings.

As a noun, peal refers to the loud, long ringing of bells, or more generally to any loud, prolonged sound or series of sounds, such as thunder or laughter. As a verb, peal means to sound out loudly or to make a loud, long sound.

For example:

  • The peal of the church bells could be heard throughout the town. 
  • The storm began with a peal of thunder.
  • The monks pealed the bells before beginning their morning meditations.

Learn more about homophones, homographs, and homonyms here.

The word peel is used as a transitive verb meaning “to remove the skin or outer layer of something” and as an intransitive verb meaning “to lose the skin or outer layer or have it be removed.” As a noun, peel refers to the skin or outer layer that has been removed from something, most often the rind of a fruit, vegetable, or similar food.

For example:

  • She showed me how to quickly peel an orange.  
  • The walls of the old house were really dirty and the paint was beginning to peel. 
  • The clumsy clown slipped on a banana peel. 

As a noun, the word peel also refers to the special shovel-like tool (a flat surface attached to a handle) that’s used to remove pizza, bread, or other foods from an oven.

pealing or peeling

Pealing is the present participle and gerund form of the verb peal. It used to form the continuous (or progressive) verb tense, as an adjective, and as a noun.

For example:

  • The bells were pealing all through the night.
  • The pealing bells kept everybody from getting any sleep.
  • After the play finished, the thunderous pealing of applause could be heard for miles around.

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Peeling is the present participle and gerund form of the verb peel. Again, it is used in the continuous (or progressive) verb tense, as an adjective, and as a noun.

  • The kids are helping out by peeling potatoes.
  • Her peeling skin made it obvious that she had a sunburn.
  • Peeling bananas is half the fun of eating them.

Examples of peal, peel, pealing, and peeling used in a sentence

To wrap things up, let’s look at example sentences that show how peal, peel, pealing, and peeling are commonly used.

  • A peal of laughter could be heard coming from the comedy club.
  • The monkeys were surrounded by a pile of banana peels.
  • The bells were pealed in celebration.
  • Do you know anyone who peels grapes before they eat them?
  • As the storm approached, we could hear the pealing of thunder.
  • Peeling the stickers off of fruit is easier when the peels are thicker.
  • Be sure to remove those garlic peels from the peel before you place the pizza in the oven.

Stop right there and review the difference between "break" and "brake."

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