Difference between Minuet and Minute

Key Difference: One minute is a unit of time that refers to 60 seconds or, alternately, one sixtieth of an hour. The minuet is a type of slow dance that was quite popular in France during the eighteenth century.

It often happens that two words that often look and sound alike tend to create confusion between the masses. Most people, and especially learners of a new language, tend to mix up similar words leading to difficulties in learning and usage. Minuet and minute are two such words in the English language.

The two words, minuet and minute, look and sound similar, which is why many people tend to think that they have the same meaning. In fact, some people use it interchangeably thinking that they are the same word. This is condoned by the fact that many people tend to misspell minute as minute. Hence, people think that they are the same thing. However, that is not the case.

Other than the misspelling, differentiating between minuet and minute is made difficult by the fact that minute has three distinct definitions, whereas minute has two. Nevertheless their definitions don’t overlap anywhere. However, they do have the same root word. Both the words originate from the Latin minutus, which means ‘small’, which is another reason why they are confused so often.

As stated previously, minute has 3 distinct definitions. The first definition and the most common one is where it signifies time. One minute is a unit of time that refers to 60 seconds or, alternately, one sixtieth of an hour. In this context, the word is often used literally, i.e. to refer to one minute exactly, or figurative, i.e. when we say one minute but actually mean 15 to 20 minutes or even longer.

The second definition of minute requires the word to be pronounced differently. Instead of the regular pronunciation of “min-it”, it is pronounced as “mi-nu-t”. Here the meaning of the word changes to refer to something that is small or insignificant. For example: minute particles or minute details.

The third major definition of minute leads to the business world. Here the term refers to summarized records that are usually taken during a meeting, which can be referred or referenced later. The minutes are an official memorandum recording what was discussed and decided during the meeting.

Now, minuet is completely different; and not a misspell as many believe. The minuet is a type of slow dance that was quite popular in France during the eighteenth century. It is named so because it involves taking small dainty steps. However, the dance had fallen in popularity but is seeing a revival now. The minuet is similar to a waltz.

As is often happens with dances, the music that the dance is danced to often gets known by the name of the dance itself. For example: Waltz, Salsa, and Minuet. Hence both the dance and the music have the same name. That is also the case with the Minuet. The second definition of the term, minuet, refers to the music on which the minuet is danced. This music is often part of a sonata, symphony or suite.

Comparison between Minuet and Minute:

 

Minuet

Minute

Definition (Oxford Dictionaries)

  • A slow, stately ballroom dance for two in triple time, popular especially in the 18th century.
  • A piece of music in triple time in the style of a minuet, typically as a movement in a suite, sonata, or symphony and frequently coupled with a trio.
  • A period of time equal to sixty seconds or a sixtieth of an hour
  • Extremely small:
  • minute particles
  • A summarized record of the proceedings at a meeting

Usage

Dance and music

Time, size, and records

Examples:

  • I hope we dance the minuet next.
  • Did you hear Bach’s minuet?
  • The class was 45 minutes long.
  • I will reach in 10 minutes.
  • She keeps focusing on minute details.
  • Where are the minutes of yesterday’s meeting?
  • Refer to the minutes before making a decision.

Image Courtesy: en.wikipedia.org, adweek.com

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