Cite vs. Site: What’s The Difference?

Have you ever wondered what the difference between the words cite and site are? Let’s dive in and discuss the similarities and differences found in the two often confused words. Many words in the English language can be pronounced in the same manner but have different meanings. This is called a homophone or a homonym. The words cite and site are pronounced the same but have a different meaning. 

Knowing how to use cite vs. site can seem challenging. There are key differences in how to use each of these words properly. Once we point out some of the key differences in the words, you will discover it is easier than you may think to identify where to properly place them in a sentence. 

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Meaning of the Word Cite

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word cite is a transitive verb that means:

  1. Authoritatively or officially be called upon to appear (as in before court).
  2. Usage of a quote by way of a proof, example, or authority. 
  3. To name in a citation or refer to. 
  4. To call to another’s attention or bring forward as proof, precedent, or example. 

Examples of using the word cite in a sentence:

  • One plaintiff was cited in this particular case.
  • The police officer decided to cite me for running a red light. 
  • Several experts were cited in the publication.
  • You must cite an example in your report. 
  • Once you learn how to cite sources, your research paper will not seem so daunting. 
  • It is acceptable to only cite a sentence for this assignment. 
  • There is a proper method to use in order to accurately cite your source used. 
  • The judge decided to dismiss the citation the officer gave me. 

Synonyms for the word cite:

  • Indicate
  • Mention
  • Name
  • Point out 
  • Recount

The Origin of the Word Cite

According to the Etymology Dictionary the origin of the word cite is as follows:

“Cite (v.)

mid-15c., “to summon, call upon officially,” from Old French citer “to summon” (14c.), from Latin citare “to summon, urge, call; put in a sudden motion, call forward; rouse, excite,” frequentative of ciere “to move, set in motion, stir, rouse, call, invite” from PIE root *keie- “to set in motion, to move to and fro.”

Sense of “call forth a passage of writing, quote the words of another” is first attested 1530s. Related: Cited; citing.” 

Meaning of the Word Site

In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word site is listed as a noun that means:

  1. The spatial location of an actual or planned structure or set of structures. (Such as a monument, building or town). Space of ground occupied or to be occupied by a building.
  2. The scene, place, or point of an event or occurrence.
  3. One or more internet addresses at which an individual or organization provides information to others.

How to use site in a sentence:

  • All of the baseball games were played at a site out of state.
  • The site for our new home is just five miles from my son’s school. 
  • Construction sites require protective safety equipment. 
  • I posted an example on the site for your consideration.
  • The site we went to was closed for the day.
  • The city just announced the new site for the professional baseball park. 
  • The site of the ice cream shop was moved one block down. 
  • The site was down all day and I could not do the research I needed to complete my homework. 

Synonyms for the word site:

  • Spot
  • Ground
  • Home
  • Scene
  • Location

The Origin of the Word Site

According to the Etymology Dictionary the origin of the word site is as follows:

site (n.) “place or position occupied by something,” especially with reference to the environment, late 14c., from the Anglo-French site, Old French site “place, site; position,” and directly from Latin situs “a place, position, situation, location, station; idleness, sloth, inactivity; forgetfulness; the effects of neglect,” from past participle of sinere “let, leave alone, permit,” from PIE *si-tu-, from root *tkei- “to settle, dwell, be home.”

Helpful Reminders for Cite vs. Site

If you feel unsure of how to tell the difference between the two, here are some key takeaways to help you in how to choose the appropriate spelling of cite vs. site since they really sound alike. 

Reminders for the word site:

  • When thinking of the word site it is helpful to think of it as a location, like a building site in New York City.
  • You can think of a physical example such as your favorite store, mall, restaurant, piece of land. 
  • You can also remember your favorite web page or web site with recent posts. The helpful part of this tip is it actually has the word including in the spelling. 
  • In a sentence, site would look like this: “The site for the future court of law is currently under construction. Please wear your hardhat upon entering.”

Reminders for the word cite:

  • Cite would be a formal summons. 
  • A mention that is official. 
  • It can also mean giving someone credit due, for instance in citing someone’s work. 
  • It can mean the origin of information, such as after you conduct research. 
  • In a sentence the word cite would look like this: “Students, please make sure you cite all sources in your book report.”


In addition to cite and site, there’s also sight! Site vs. sight refers to something that you see with your own eyes. Here’s a quick example of how to use sight in a sentence: He was a sight for sore eyes. 

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