The /n/ sound is spelled with <n>, <kn> or <gn> in gnaw. The /w/ sound is spelled with <w> or <wh>, and occurs in the letter name Y.
This is a contrast between an alveolar nasal continuant and a bilabial semivowel, both voiced. It can only occur initially or medially. It is not a problem.
The rhyming pair "wavy navy" is a nickname for the British Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, since the rings on the officers' uniforms are wavy rather than straight to distinguish them from the career service. Other interesting pairs are :
The mean density value is 1.3%. The lists make 105 semantic distinctions, a loading of 53%.
gnaw war gnaws wars gnawed warred gnawed ward gnu woo gnus woos knack whack knacker whacker knackers whackers knacks whacks knacks wax knave waive knaves waives knave wave knaves waves knead weed kneaded weeded kneading weeding kneads weeds knee we knee wee knees wees kneeing weeing kneel wheel kneeling wheeling kneels wheels kneeled wheeled kneeled weald kneeled wield knell well knells wells knelt welt knife wife knives wives knight Wight knight white knights whites knighting whiting knit whit knit wit knits wits knobble wobble knobbles wobbles knobbly wobbly knobblier wobblier knobbliest wobbliest knot watt knots watts knot what know whoa know woe knows woes nag wag nagged wagged nagging wagging nags wags nail wail nailed wailed nailing wailing nails wails nail whale nails whales nails Wales navy wavy nay way nay weigh near Wear near weir nears weirs neared weird Ned wed n�e way n�e weigh need weed needed weeded needing weeding needs weeds needle wheedle needled wheedled needles wheedles needling wheedling needy weedy needier weedier neediest weediest ne'er Ware ne'er wear ne'er where neigh way neigh ways neigh weigh neighs weighs neighing weighing neighed weighed neighed wade Nell well nest west Neston western net wet nets wets netted wetted netting wetting nether weather niche witch niches witches Nick Wick niff whiff niffs whiffs niggle wiggle niggled wiggled niggles wiggles niggling wiggling nigh Y nigher wire nightcap whitecap nightcaps whitecaps nil will nine whine nines whines nine wine nines wines ninny whinny ninnies whinnies ninny Winnie nip whip nipped whipped nips whips nipping whipping nippy whippy nippier whippier nippiest whippiest nit whit nit wit nits wits nitre whiter no whoa no woe nobble wobble nobbled wobbled nobbling wobbling nobbles wobbles nod wad nodded wadded nodding wadding nods wads noddle waddle noddles waddles node woad none one none won nor war norm warm norms warms nose woes nosh wash noshed washed noshes washes noshing washing not watt not what notch watch notched watched notches watches notching watching nought wart noughts warts now wow nun one nuns ones nun won nurse worse nursed worst reddening redwing snag swag snare swear snares swears snaring swearing sniffed swift snifter swifter snipe swipe sniped swiped snipes swipes sniping swiping snitch switch snitched switched snitches switches snitching switching snivel swivel snivelled swivelled snivelling swivelling snivels swivels snob swab snobs swabs snoop swoop snooped swooped snooping swooping snoops swoops snore swore snored sward snot swat
Credit: John Higgins