I was recently corrected after using the wrong word (homophone) in a public posting. Oops! But I’ll forgive myself, because there’s a fairly subtle difference between the meanings of the two words in question, and they’re relatively obscure in their usage. Well, that’s my excuse, anyway…
I wrote “before the hoards arrive”. A quick Google search of that expression turns up about four and a half million results. So I’m in good company. Of course what I should have written was ‘before the hordes arrive’.
Used as a noun, hoard means a hidden fund or supply stored for future use; a cache. As an intransitive verb it means to gather or accumulate a hoard; transitively, the verb hoard means to accumulate a hoard of, or to keep hidden or private.
The noun horde refers to a large group, multitude, number, etc.; a mass or crowd. It also describes a tribe or troop of nomads (often of Asiatic origin, but applicable to any nomadic group), or a teeming pack or swarm of animals or insects. Used less commonly as a verb (intransitive), it means to gather in a horde.