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Ordnance and ordinance: what’s the difference?

Ordnance and ordinance: what’s the difference?

If you were imprudent enough to discharge government ordnance in the city centre, the chances are that you would fall foul of some government ordinance. That’s hardly surprising. Yet most right-minded people would probably come to the same conclusion without fully understanding or even caring about the difference. So what is the difference?

An ordinance is a government law or decree, usually at municipal level, whereas ordnance refers to military materials, mainly weapons and ammunition.

Both words have the same Latin root (to arrange or set in order) and entered our language via Middle English, after which they split and took on different meanings and spelling.

So one little letter can make a big difference.

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